The darkest times are upon us in an otherwise fun, event-filled, and growing Marvel Cinematic Universe. To celebrate the coming release of Marvel's "Captain America: Civil War," where two ideals will come to a head, let's reflect on the "marvellous" films that this studio has put together. I will be going in order from 2008 - 2015, ending with thoughts and predictions for "Captain America: Civil War." These will be minor reviews and more of a re-evaluation of my thoughts on these films, how they hold up now, and how well they connect/impact the films that came after. Here we go.
WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS THROUGHOUT!!
Part 2: The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Coming only a mere two months after the release of "Iron Man," "The Incredible Hulk" may not have been the huge spark needed to keep the universe going, but it certainly saved the character from what became of him in Ang Lee's 2003 version. To most people, that was the main concern going in and whether or not a feature film could ever work for this character, and while I was skeptical and still remain that way, I have no problem admitting that 2008's "The Incredible Hulk" is a blast to watch. Played by Oscar-winner Edward Norton, this version of Bruce Banner follows the character as he tries to contain his rage in many clever ways, until inevitably, he is needed to take down another hulk. Yes, the storyline in this film, although different from "Iron Man," follows a very similar villain story and sadly, this became the trend in many of the Marvel films to follow.
There is nothing entirely original about this film, because the backstory has already been told in the past, through cheesy television shows and a poor theatrically released feature film. Starring Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt, and Tim Blake Nelson, this film is filled with star studded performers that elevate every scene they are in. I personally think the film is as well-made as it is to some people, because these actors disguise themselves so well. Marvel has always been known for making great casting choices, even if people were skeptical at first. Edward Norton plays a terrific hulk, in that he devotes himself the whole way through, although being a pain on set would not help him in the future.
Marvel replacing the character for the first "Avengers" film in 2012 would be the best choice they could have ever made, but more of that in my review of that film. Once Norton departed this character, a large worry began to grow over the studio for it's continuity issues it may face. Rest assured, they had it under control so that this film could stand on it's own and still be a watchable film when looking back on this universe down the line. Each character needs their set up to build this world, and just as "Iron Man" did, there are some easter eggs here that tease the future.
In the films final moment, after the big showdown in the streets, who else than Tony Stark himself (Robert Downey Jr.) walks into the room. Now, at this point, fans knew that there was clearly something being put together, especially when Tony delivers the line, "What if I told you we were putting a team together?" This got myself and fans all jazzed up about the fact that there would be a possible Avengers-like film coming in the near future. When "Iron Man" concludes, they blatantly say something is coming by having Nick Fury show up, but this reassured it, which made it that much more impactful. What I think was the biggest failure about this picture was it's fan base upon initial release. Still to this day, it remains the lowest box office draw of any of the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Sure, hardcore Marvel fans or fans of the character in general, flocked out to see this big green beast on the big screen once again, but pulling in a mere 263 million dollars on a 150 million dollar budget is nothing to write home about, especially when your studio is relying on each film to grow a bigger and bigger fan base. Granted, this film is nowhere near the achievement that "Iron Man" was, but if a hulk film was made nowadays, those number would at least double themselves. With a solid film and a final scene that helped set up the "Avengers, which many would eventually claim to be one of the greatest superhero films of all time, both critically and box office wise, you would think that upon looking back at the numbers, they would be greater than this.
Numbers are not all that matters and if any of the films are going to have a low box office return, this was definitely the best one to do so. It is one of the weaker films in the universe, with average storytelling, average dialogue, and a predictable conclusion. This is not a must-see film in that the actor is eventually replaced and the films to follow will help get you back into the mindset of the "Avengers" anyways. On it's own, "The Incredible Hulk" is a solid watch that viewers can enjoy without having to worry about too many interruptions with universe building or whether or not this character will be used in the future. "The Avengers" re-establishes his character with ease in order to acknowledge the making of this film, while saying it is not necessary to view. Would I recommend this film to new viewers of the universe? I would say that it is definitely not necessary to watch, but it is a solid addition to the universe that will help to show the progression in getting to the bigger and better things. So yes, I would. Very solid, yet predictable little film. If this remains to be one of Marvel's weakest films in years to come, then they better be pretty happy with what they are doing here.
Review By: KJ Proulx