In 1962 Marvel’s creative giants Stan Lee and Jack Kirby brought the world The Incredible Hulk a story owing much to Lee’s love of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and as Ben Grimm’s orange monstrous form in Lee and Kirby’s Fantastic Four comic was so very popular why not make a comic starring a monster? Thus we get the story of scientist Bruce Banner caught in the blast of a gamma bomb of his own invention and now tormented by the raging beast within.
In the Hulk’s first appearance he was a gray skinned behemoth but due to quality of the paper at the time as well as the inks used the Hulk’s pigment varied too much from panel to panel, so after seeing the first issue Lee decided to make Hulk’s skin green. Years later the gray skin would return when in a run of comics by Peter David were the Hulk took on the name Joe Fixit. As Las Vegas enforcer he was a more intelligent version of the Hulk but definitely more morally ambiguous and more in keeping with the Mr. Hyde personality type than his earlier savage Frankenstein persona.
1966 Cartoon Series
Limited by what a live action television budget could allow we never got to see this Hulk (Lou Ferrigno) tossing tanks around or leaping hundreds of miles in a single bound but what we did get was an hour long drama much in the vein of The Fugitive with David Banner (Bill Bixby) on the run from a hounding reporter and a death he was not responsible for. Seeing green painted Ferrigno take on protection racketeers and abusive husbands may have been a bit of a letdown for the fans of the comic but the pathos and warmth of the late great Bill Bixby is what made this show such a hit. Note: Producers nixed the name Bruce Banner in favor of David Banner because Bruce seemed too gay at the time.
Definitely a step up in animation quality.
From the 80s to 2010 the Hulk appeared in various animated forms; The Incredible Hulk (1982) only ran 13 episodes and was aired as part of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, in 1996 The Incredible Hulk was voiced by Lou Ferrigno with Neal McDonough voicing Doctor Banner. Then in 1997 they changed the shows name to The Incredible Hulk and She-Hulk which added Hulk’s cousin and also had the Hulk appear in his gray incarnation and was voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson. Then in 2010 The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes aired which gave us one of the better versions of the Hulk (Fred Tatasciore) but that show was too good so it was cancelled after just two seasons.
“Hulk smash puny ratings!”
Eric Bana proves it’s not easy being green.
The problem in this film was that Ang Lee thought we needed an hour origin story before seeing any cool Hulk action, he was wrong. Now he isn’t the only director guilty of wasting screen time on hero origins stories when most of the world knows them by heart, but in his case it was just so ponderously slow going that at times I started to lose interest, and I personally just didn’t care much for Eric Bana’s David Banner (Note: Apparently still hiding from the name Bruce) and as lovely as Jennifer Connelly is her Betty Ross was your standard damsel in distress but compounded with the fact that she kept ratting her boyfriend out to the military thus making her poor girlfriend material. Speaking of the military we at least have one good thing to say about this movie and that is Sam Elliot, his Thunderbolt Ross pretty much nailed the character from the comic while also giving a bit more humanity to him.
Sam Elliot is Thunderbolt Ross.
Enter Louis Leterrier’s The Incredible Hulk (2008) which starred an angst ridden Edward Nortonas Bruce Banner who must do battle with Tim Roth who will turn into The Abomination and help tear up Harlem/Toronto. This film was kind of a reboot I like as it didn’t waste time giving as another long origin story we just find out how he became the Hulk in a quick flashback, sadly that is the only real positive thing I can say about this version of the Hulk. I think Edward Norton is a fine actor but he was terrible miscast as Banner here and the CGI for his green alter ego wasn’t anything to write home about. We did get a better smack down action finale this time out but the whole thing seemed kind of on the cheap. Worst offence was in the casting of William Hurt as Thunderbolt Ross as he was just terrrribbbble! The producers should have taken a page from the Bond movies which kept the same actor for M over multiple movies even if the actor playing Bond kept changing and brought back Sam Elliot as General Ross. As this films Betty Ross we get Liv Tyler who’s portrayal of the torn girlfriend is forgettable verging on coma inducing. It’s a shame that this film has the Robert Downey Jr.. cameo thus making it part of the current Marvel Cinematic Universe.
There are apparently no plans to give this incarnation of The Incredible Hulk his own standalone movie which is a shame because any film that could give us more screen time with Ruffalo’s Banner is something I’d be all for, but until then I’ll be happy with him taking on Hulkbuster armor and cosmic threats with his pals.