The new Hulk movie is a disappointment. Really, it is. I went in expecting brainless fun in the Ghost Rider vein, and was rewarded with boring boring rubbish. I’ve had more exciting commutes to work on the days I forgot to bring a book and my MP3 player’s battery wore out. There were real actors in there, but they weren’t doing much acting, and the screenwriter seemed to have dozed off. However, there’s no point criticising if you can’t be constructive about it, so here’s my list of ways to improve The Incredible Hulk:
10. Get an actual body builder in to play the Hulk The CGI in this film isn’t bad, exactly. It’s just that it’s impossible to forget that what you’re looking at was created on a computer. When Hulk and Abomination fight, it’s all very impressive, but it just feels like watching a computer game. And you’re really not holding the controller. However, before the film there was a trailer for the new Hellboy film, and that? That looks real. Granted, it’s a huge red guy with sawn-off horns, but it’s Ron Perlman in there, and it works because he can really engage with his environment. So why couldn’t they have done the same in The Incredible Hulk? Surely it would be cheaper and easier to get in someone – hell, even Lou Ferrigno! – and use prosthetics and makeup to make them look Hulk-like? Sod it, even The Thing in Fantastic Four looked better than the Hulk in this movie. He’d be a bit small, maybe, but I’d rather have a slightly scaled down Hulk that looked real and dangerous than a CGI Hulk that doesn’t even look like he’s in the same room as everyone else.
9. Give the villain a real motive What, exactly, is Emil Blonsky’s motive in the film? It boils down to, roughly, “I’ve been fighting people all my life, I like fighting, that guy’s massive, I’d like to fight him, raaaawwwwrrr!” Yeah, okay. Deep. I can really empathise with that. Or not. It’s completely pointless crap, and, okay, I accept that a lot of the Spider-man villains ended up having really rubbish motives too, but “I want to fight because I like fighting” has to be the absolute flimsiest of excuses for a dust-up.
8. Get a real writer in Anyone know who Zak Penn is? No? Well, I’ll tell you. He’s the guy who wrote X-Men: The Last Stand and Elektra, without a doubt two of the worst movies Marvel has released to date. Okay, he didn’t write Fantastic Four, but he did write Fantastic Four the video game, which is probably even worse. Seriously, are those the credentials of the man you want to hand a major franchise like Hulk? David S. Goyer would be better. (No, I’m serious: David S. Goyer would be better. I liked the Blade trilogy, and come on, he wrote Batman Begins!)
7. Rip more stuff off from Crank If using a real writer to write a decent screenplay sounds too much like hard work, why not just plagiarise a bit more? The scene where Banner falls from the plane and smashes into the concrete below is exactly like the bit at the end of Crank, and Crank, while flawed, was kind of awesome. So why not use Google Maps to demonstrate how Bruce Banner is moving around? There’s a lot of travelling around in the movie, it could use some contextualising. The running around screaming bit is already covered, and I don’t really want the Hulk hurtling around with an epinephrine-induced erection, but The Incredible Hulk could certainly do with borrowing some of Crank‘s momentum.
6. Change the title to something more honest If you’re going to make a half-assed movie, don’t put the word “Incredible” in the title. That’s just asking for it.
5. Give Betty Ross an actual character The basic building blocks of a character make it into The Incredible Hulk. We know Betty doesn’t get on with her father, and why; we know about her past with Banner; we know she’s a doctor; we know she’s dating some random guy who looks sort of like Mel Gibson crossed with Ben Stiller. But as soon as Banner re-enters her life, all of that stuff goes out of the window. She’s reduced to the role of the love interest, forever standing on the sidelines and crying prettily; the most Liv Tyler has to do for most of the movie is pout a bit and occasionally scream “Noooooo!”
It’s a shame, because much of the film relies on the audience buying into the relationship between Betty and Bruce, and it’s just impossible to do; they’re just two good-looking people who pair off with one another because no-one else in the film is as pretty as they are, and there’s nothing interesting about that. We need to feel her pain when she watches the man she loves transform into a beast; we need to feel some sense of urgency when she’s trying to reach Bruce through the Hulk’s eyes; we need to care, even just a little tiny bit, when she’s helpless to stop her father leading troops into battle against the Hulk. And we’ve never given a reason to care.
4. Throw in a Ghost Rider crossover This one thing would make me award this movie extra stars – anywhere from one extra star all the way up to giving it a full five star rating. Just give me a Ghost Rider cameo. A flaming motorcycle could zoom past in the background while something else is going on; that’d be worth an extra star. If Johnny Blaze turned up to talk to Bruce Banner, that would be amazing. C’mon, they’re both antiheroes, men who transform into virtually uncontrollable monsters due to powers beyond their comprehension; they could bond. Hey, maybe even Roxanne and Betty could make friends and ring one another up to share the pain of being in love with a man whose presence wipes out their entire personality because screenwriters don’t know how to make realistic relationships work onscreen. Marvel is all about the overlapping universe its superheroes inhabit, and while it was undeniably cool to see Tony Stark show up at the end of The Incredible Hulk, it would have been much, much cooler to see the Rider.
3. Stop trying so bloody hard to be funny There is something desperately wrong with The Incredible Hulk‘s sense of humour. Quite simply, it’s not funny. There’s the self-conscious bit where Bruce rejects the bright purple stretchy trunks Betty found for him, winking maniacally at fans who recognise the Hulk’s traditional costume; there’s the bit where Bruce gets his Portugese pronunciation wrong and tells people that they wouldn’t like him when he’s hungry; and, worst of all, there’s the bit where Bruce and Betty are about to have sex and his heart monitor beeps to tell him to calm down in case he turns into the Hulk. Oh, ha ha ha, the Hulk is a metaphor for erectile dysfunction! It’s painful to watch joke after limp, feeble joke fall as flat as, um, something, but in a paragraph that talks about erectile dysfunction I don’t think I want to be making any similes about limpness. Ahem.
2. Listen to Edward Norton about changes that should be made Much has been made of the creative differences that occurred during the production of The Incredible Hulk – probably too much, really, because it doesn’t seem to have been as much of an issue as the media would have liked it to be. However, apparently there was a disagreement between Edward Norton and Louis Leterrier and Marvel Studios about the cut of this movie that was to be released, and Marvel won out. I’m thinking Norton’s cut can’t have been any worse, so why not give him a go?
1. Cast Nic Cage as Bruce Banner. Nic Cage instantly makes everything better. Fact.
Read Sarah’s review of The Incredible Hulk here.