This film stands as somewhat of a unicorn within the MCU’s slate – as it doesn’t technically fit in correctly with continuity due to the actor swap-out from Edward Norton to Mark Ruffalo at a later date. In a sense, this film can be discarded and ignored as one even within the MCU. Following the journey of Bruce Banner, The Incredible Hulk shows Bruce struggle with controlling the monster within him as he comes face to face with a new and horrifying threat.
The Incredible Hulk feels so distant to the continuity of the MCU that it’s difficult to know whether this film was always intended to fit in that universe. This film stands as one of the weaker Marvel movies due to its lack of focus towards characters and the absence of compelling themes in the film. Dealing with material like this, you see a surge of potential to delve into the psyche of Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) but little of that is touched upon. Instead, it displays a huge amount of focus upon the relationship between Bruce Banner and Betty Ross (Liv Tyler). The love interest aspect quickly became uninteresting and tedious, an immediate and obvious lack of chemistry was groundless in the context of the narrative.
Due to the complexity of the character of Bruce Banner in the comic-books, it had a good opportunity to utilise a good range that Norton is capable of doing. Instead, this film provides little to nothing from his performance as there is barely any range of emotion. One of the biggest issues of this is the villain, which perhaps started a common flaw within the MCU. Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) is given zero purpose except to have power like the hulk; want a villain with random motivations? You got it. In fact, there is absolutely no complexity in ANY of the characters. It’s layered with generic action movie cliches such as the military are the bad guys and the love interest being nothing more than a damsel in distress. The one word to describe this movie is: dull. This is mainly due to the poorly formed narrative structure and the jumping between locations.
When it comes to the visual effects, the film is a monstrosity. The Incredible Hulk had a hefty budget ($150m) and still had gross distracting visuals that took away from any immersion you may have. Considering this was released a month after Iron Man (2008), the difference is significant. Some of the films stronger elements is an authentic sense of environment it achieves through production design and its thoughtful costuming. With an established theme and sequence elevating musical pieces, the score (composed by Craig Armstrong) does a good job at flowing with the film appropriately.
The Incredible Hulk while not an abomination, serves as nothing more than a mindless blockbuster with little substance to cling to. On the technical side, it’s nothing incredible but provides some justice for the film and gives a slight sense of enjoyment. Arguably, one of the more puny entries into the MCU and a film that would be almost forgotten about when thinking about the MCU. In what feels like a last minute decision to give this film inclusion into the MCU, The Incredible Hulk suffers from poor character writing and a script so dull that you’ll forget it an hour after your viewing.