The Incredible Hulk (film)

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The Incredible Hulk is a 2008 film based on the character of the same name; following the trend of rebooting a franchise rather than creating a sequel to an unpopular first effort, this film takes place in a different continuity from the 2003 version and is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The story takes place at least five years after the tragic accident which created The Hulk, glimpses of which are seen in the opening credits. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) has taken refuge in South America as a worker at a bottling plant, where he keeps a low profile and works on controlling his anger in his spare time. When Bruce accidentally spills blood into one of the bottles, a man falls ill from Gamma poisoning, which is the clue General Ross uses to track Banner down. Along for the ride is Emil Blonsky, who is destined to become one of the Hulk's deadliest foes: the Abomination.

While the film received a fair amount of critical success, it wasn't so lucky financially, and the director says a sequel isn't likely. The Hulk appears in The Avengers alongside Iron Man, Thor and Captain America the First Avenger—although Bruce is portrayed by Mark Ruffalo instead of Edward Norton.

Tropes used in The Incredible Hulk (film) include:
  • Actor Allusion: Granted Tim Roth wasn't in the scene, but why else would Betty mention ordering a "Mr Pink"?
  • Adaptation Distillation: The film takes bits and pieces from Hulk's 45 year history and compresses them into a single movie. Everything is covered, from Bruce trying (and failing) to find a cure to Bruce being unable to have sex with Betty to Hulk being incredibly protective of Betty. The only thing not brought up is Bruce's daddy issues, and given the huge amount of focus that got in the Ang Lee movie omitting it entirely may very well be justified.
  • All There in the Manual: Characters not seen in the film, such as Nick Fury and Rick Jones, are at least mentioned in print in the opening sequence.
    • So, what was Tony Stark after when he went to speak to General Ross? The WSC wanted the Abomination on the Avengers. Stark was sent in the hopes he'd piss Ross off & cause him to refuse to release Blonsky to the team, as revealed in a short film included on the Thor DVD.
  • Appropriated Appellation: "Hulk" (coined during a news broadcast of the rampage at the college) and "Abomination" (never actually used to refer to the mutated Blonsky outside of a warning Sterns gives him before the actual mutation and a line from the SHIELD agents in "The Consultant").
  • Armies Are Evil: Ross tries to imply that he's a Well-Intentioned Extremist, but in private he admits proudly that he admires the Hulk's power, and wishes to "cut it out" of Banner and turn it loose on America's enemies, despite all the collateral damage Hulk inflicts.
  • Asshole Victim: The reckless, rude cabbie's vehicle ends up being a weapon of choice for Abomination.
    • The three bullies at the factory also count.
  • Badass Normal: Blonsky is one the finest soldiers in the British Military long before the transformation. Though the years have taken their toll and he admits he is not even close to his peak level ability before getting the first dose.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Blonsky transforms into the Abomination. Unlike the Hulk, none of his clothes stay on, but he doesn't need them anyway. The commentary, by the director and Blonsky's actor, have them pointing out that since the Hulk has pants, he's got to have something under them, but the Abomination does not.
    • Whilst we’re on the subject of Tim Roth's audio commentary, the absence of visible external genitalia only gets a passing mention. When compared to Roth's complaints towards Abomination's anatomy and the lack thereof, with regard to the ears. Whether this is a true subversion or Roth had his tongue firmly in his cheek — answers on a postcard, please...
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: If you ignore the green skin and the increased size, the Hulk is a pretty hot (and ripped) Walking Shirtless Scene. If you ignore the yellow skin and the increased size, Abomination... is a Buffy the Vampire Slayer Monster of the Week.
  • Blood Knight: After surviving the Mook Horror Show below, Blonsky is downright eager for a rematch.
  • Body Horror: Emil Blonsky's slow transformation, which is reminiscent of The Fly. One scene especially, where you can see his spines protruding out of his back.
    • Also Bruce's transformation to the Hulk is incredibly painful and at times asymmetrical. The top half of him will sometimes transform before the lower half catches up.
  • Book Ends: We see green beverages at the beginning and end - the guarana sodas and that stuff General Ross keeps knocking back—which are, in fact, a real-life drink named "The Incredible Hulk."
    • Considering the MCU's penchant for lots and lots of whiskey, it could just be a whiskey sour.
  • Broad Strokes: The movie is technically a Continuity Reboot, doing a quick revisit of the origin story and having General Ross further explain their version of the backstory details. Still, it uses elements of the '03 movie in that it starts 5 years after Banner's Freak Lab Accident, as even with major details changed it would retread the same basic story (Banner is irradiated, learns what he has become and fights against the military). The '03 movie also ends with Banner hiding from the government in South America, which is where this movie picks up his story. The major details that were changed include that the Hulk doesn't get larger the angrier he gets, General Ross was not a sympathetic figure and Bruce's project was tied directly to the military instead of just attracting their attention when things went crazy.
  • Bullying a Dragon: "Is that it? Is that all you've got?" *kick* *splat*
    • The guys at the factory also count though they didn't know that Bruce was really an unstoppable monster. Probably wouldn't have stopped them anyway.
  • California Doubling: Toronto standing in for Harlem.
  • The Cameo: Lou Ferrigno plays a security guard at Culver University (his second such appearance in a Hulk movie to date). He also voices the CGI Hulk. Stan Lee continues his pattern of appearing in every Marvel movie, playing as the old man who gets gamma poisoning from the soda laced with Bruce's blood. Finally, Robert Downey, Jr. appears towards the end as Tony Stark, making this the only Marvel-produced movie to date with no Samuel L. Jackson.
  • Can't Have Sex Ever: The movie sort of makes a point that, rather than simply getting angry, it's an elevated heart rate that triggers his transformation—making sex off limits.
  • Catch Phrase: "HULK SMASH!" is inserted at the climax of the fight between Hulk and Abomination; it doubles as a Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Several are briefly glimpsed in the opening sequence (e.g. the name of Doc Samson and other characters who would appear later). For a more literal case, the plans for the sonic Humvees used at the university appear, and are seen to be provided by Stark Industries.
  • Comic Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: Played with. The Hulk is called so very sparingly, with only Blonsky and the Hulk himself ever using it in an non-ironic fashion. Also, the Abomination is never directly called that, except for one off-handed remark by Samuel Sterns. General Ross is not referred to as "Thunderbolt" Ross.
    • A deleted scene has Ross referred to as "T" over the phone.
  • Confused Bystander Interview: There's an interview that doubles as a Mythology Gag: the two college students interviewed about the Hulk's appearance at Culver University are Jack McGee (Banner's Inspector Javert from the TV series) and Jim Wilson (one of Hulk's Kid Sidekicks from the comics). McGee even mentions hoping to become a reporter some day.
  • Cursed with Awesome: While not given much attention, Blonsky is even more powerful than the Hulk. And he retains his intellect. The catch? He is permanently transformed and cannot change back. And his strength cannot increase with anger.
    • On the other hand, he's also completely out of his mind.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: When Banner cuts himself in the factory and his blood contaminates some of the bottles, the way he freaks out was probably written with HIV in mind. If this was a deliberate metaphor on the writer's end, his refusal to have sex might be related.
  • Doing In the Wizard: Rather than being tied solely to his anger, Bruce's transformation happens any time his heart rate goes above a certain point—which means it can be triggered by anger, fear, strenuous exercise, or even sex.
  • Driven to Suicide/Ate His Gun: A Deleted Scene for the alternate opening had Bruce Banner putting his gun into his mouth, feeling that this was the only way to get rid of the Hulk for good. He then shot himself, only for him to transform and spit the bullet back out. It was deleted for its dark tone, although it was later referred to in The Avengers
  • Drives Like Crazy: When going to New York to track down Blue, when given the choice between the subway and the taxi, Bruce Banner and Dr. Betty Ross decided on the taxi. To put it simply, cramped or not, they really should have chosen the subway instead.
    • Hilariously Bruce manages to keep calm for the most part, Betty is the one who freaks out.[1]
  • Drowning My Sorrows: What General Ross ended up doing in the ending before Tony Stark meets up with him with the proposal of forming a team.

"Reload." *shoots* "Reload."

Blonsky: I want more.

  • Enemy Mine: Ross's forces end up backing up the Hulk after the Abomination starts ripping apart New York. Notably, the general looks just as surprised as everyone else when a military helicopter starts chasing Banner after Blonsky's defeat, ending their brief alliance.
  • Evil Brit: Blonsky is changed to one, although unlike other examples, he is not cultured or refined (speaking with a very heavy Cockney accent).
  • Evil Counterpart: While the Hulk is a destructive monster that Bruce can't quite seem to control, the Abomination is far more of a menace. He's also bigger, stronger and faster than the Hulk thanks to the combination of the Super Soldier Serum and the gamma radiation which created the Hulk in the first place. Hulk has two advantages though: first, Abomination's strength is more or less static, while Hulk's increases the angrier he gets, and second, Hulk is significantly better at using his strength in new ways, while the Abomination is much more focused on direct applications of power.
  • Finger-Twitching Revival: Emil Blonsky indicates his impending revival by his fingers coming to staccato life as Gen. Ross is walking away from his hospital bed. Even though his fingers are almost fully wrapped up in bandages and his whole arm and hand are in a suspension cast. Now that is a commitment to that trope.
  • Flashback Echo: Banner gets PTSD-esque ones from his time as the Hulk.
  • Foreshadowing: Betty's new boyfriend is pretty obviously Doc Samson, while the doctor working with Bruce is Samuel Sterns, destined to be The Leader.
  • Fragile Speedster: See Weak but Skilled below.
  • Freak Lab Accident: The Hulk's origin was changed to this from his comic version's exposure to a gamma bomb. Apparently he was taking some sort of genetic cocktail (designed by Betty) which allowed him to survive the exposure. These same elements were present in the 2003 version, but didn't strain suspension of disbelief as much here.
  • General Ripper: Ross. Shows no compunction or contemplation about weaponizing something as unruly and savage as the Hulk in order to maintain America's military might.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: Literally, since, as noted above, the Hulk's very origin was changed to reflect genetic mutation rather than pure gamma exposure. Also applies to the genetic experiments that Blonsky undergoes in his quest to become strong enough to face the Hulk.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong/Gone Horribly Right: General Ross can't decide which applies to the accident that created the Hulk. Same with Blonsky. Oh sure, now he's strong enough to take down the Hulk. He's also so insane by this point that no one wants him to win.
  • Gilligan Cut: The Taxi scene.
  • Healing Factor: Blonsky after taking the Super Soldier Serum. It's enough to let him completely recover from having the Hulk reduce every bone in his body to 'gravel'.
  • Hellish Copter: Military helicopters get taken down via unconventional means twice in this film.
  • Homeless Hero: Bruce is forced to stay on the run because of the government forces chasing him. Following his transformations, Bruce is often left with nothing but the pants he is wearing. At one point, he is forced to beg in order to survive.
  • Hulk Speak: But of course.
  • Hulking Out: Hulk... smash.
  • I Am Very British: Averted. Blonsky retains Tim Roth's Cockney accent.
  • If You Kill Him You Will Be Just Like Him: Betty stops Hulk from strangling The Abomination to death with a chain, most likely for this reason.
  • Immune to Bullets: They literally bounce off the Hulk.
  • In Medias Res: The Hulk's origin is conveyed in a three minute flashback sequence during the opening credits. When the film starts properly, it's several years later.
  • Interrupted Cooldown Hug: Happens at least once.
  • Ironic Echo: The earlier mentioned phrase "Is that all you've got?" is repeated by Blonsky in the final confrontation, complete with kicking and subsequent splatting. This time, the Hulk is on the receiving end.
  • Jerkass: General Ross.
  • Kick the Dog: Almost literally. During the raid on the favela, Blonsky shoots Banner's dog because its barking annoyed him. Thankfully, it was a tranquilizer bullet, but still.
  • Living Lie Detector: As mentioned above, Doc Samson claims that he can tell when people are lying to him since he's a psychologist, stating that General Ross is lying when he says he cares about Betty.
  • Magic Pants: Subverted, Bruce specifically looks for pants that can stretch just in case. The Hulk's well-known purple shorts are given a nod when Betty brings Bruce a pair of purple sweats, saying they're the stretchiest she could find.
  • Master of Your Domain: Banner learns meditative breathing techniques from a martial arts master played by Rickson Gracie in order to suppress his transformations.
  • Mook Horror Show: General Ross sends a special ops team to capture Bruce Banner, and a trio of bullies catch up to same at the same time and decide to teach him a lesson. They both fail. This occurs in a creepy, darkened bottling plant and includes such moments as two men being dragged into the shadows while screaming, the view through a soldier's night vision goggles an instant before they short out, tranquilliser darts bouncing off and then being crushed beneath the footfalls of a certain somebody, and everyone involved freaking right the hell out.
  • Mugging the Monster: The douchebag factory workers who try to rough up Bruce at the beginning.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The scene in which the Hulk tears a car in half and uses the pieces as impromptu boxing gloves is a direct nod to the "Steel Fists" move in the video game The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. He also uses the Sonic Clap, and the Earthquake Smash, both from the same game.
    • Betty buying Bruce stretchy purple shorts, only for Bruce to refuse to wear them.
      • Earlier in the film he's seen trying to buy a new pair of pants and specifically asks for stretchy ones
    • During the montage of Bruce's travels after his first "Hulk Out" the ending theme of The Incredible Hulk TV series can be heard.
      • Actually about 90% of the movie is one great big Mythology Gag to the TV series; more inspiration was drawn from that than the actual comic books. Bill Bixby (that version's Bruce David Banner) even makes a "cameo," via a clip from his earlier series The Courtship Of Eddies Father playing on a television near the beginning. Also, when said Hulk Outs occur, his eyes turn green, just like in the series.
      • During the last scene we see Bruce in, he opens mail addressed to David B.
      • Lou Ferrigno, the Hulk to Bixby's Banner, makes a genuine cameo as a security guard.
    • When Ross' team is tracking Bruce's correspondence to Mr. Green, his email runs through a database that briefly flashes the S.H.I.E.L.D logo.
      • The Mr. Green/ Mr. Blue email correspondence itself is a reference to the comics written by Bruce Jones in 2004/2005.
    • The strike team isn't sure if the Hulk is green or grey in the dark, a reference to the coloring issue in the original comic that led to the Hulk's current color.
      • Also, there is a scene where Hulk is shouting in the rain, and each time the lightning flashes, his skin looks gray in the light.
    • One of the students who witnesses the fight at the university is named Jack McGee, a reference to the investigative reporter from the TV series.
      • Similarly, the novelization identifies the student in the computer lab as Amadeus Cho, now better known as Hercules' buddy.
    • Blonsky's slide into madness after taking the serum mirrors that of the 1950s Captain America.
      • In fact, since the Captain America movie is in the same continuity as this one, it's entirely possible that the serum that is given to Blonsky is precisely the same one. It's stated in Captain America the First Avenger that the super serum strengthens the users main personality traits. For Cap, it was his heroism, for Red Skull, it was his evilness, and for Blonsky, it was his love of fighting.
    • The Super Soldier Serum used in the movie is shown to have been developed by an organization known as Weapon Plus. Weapon Plus had several programs working on supersoldiers, the most famous being Weapon X.
    • Earlier Banner mistranslates one of the Hulk's catchphrases, "You won't like me when I'm... hungry?"
    • The device Banner exposes himself to in the flashback of his origin is identical to the one used in the Incredible Hulk TV show.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: A detailed timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe shown on Film Buff Online reveals that the events of this film take place in 2010, as the film was released in 2008.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Justified. Emil Blonsky was born in Russia, but spent most of his life in England, so Tim Roth can use his normal voice.
  • Not Using the Z Word: Even after his transformation, Blonsky is still referred to by name. Samuel Sterns warns him that exposing him to gamma radiation after taking the Super Soldier Serum could result in "...an abomination."
  • Oh Crap: After Bruce jumps out of the heli and realizes he can't Hulk Out. "SH-"
  • One-Dimensional Thinking: Subverted. A soldier running from a huge water tank Hulk threw at him tries to jump out of his path but it's moving so fast it catches on his legs and drags him.
  • Pietà Plagiarism: The battle on the college campus. The Hulk saves Betty, then he carries her away.
  • Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: "HULK... SMASH!" He proceeds to do so to the Abomination in about twelve different ways.
  • Psycho Serum: Sorta. The injections Blonsky takes throughout the movie are Super Serum that turn him into a better soldier. However, these simply make him more able and driven rather than powerful AND crazy. His Psycho Serum turns out to be Bruce Banner's own gamma-enhanced blood samples, which finally cross him over into The Abomination and cause him to lose direction and morality (he's willing to kill General Ross for no viable reason other than enslavement to madness).
  • Punch-Punch-Punch Uh-Oh: "Is that all you've got?"
  • The Reveal: The very ending shows Banner consciously inducing a Hulk episode, but cuts off immediately, leaving the circumstances and Banner's new direction ambiguous. In the Avengers movie, Banner reveals that anger management isn't much of an issue anymore, and he is in a constant state of Tranquil Fury. He can control the Hulk transformation to some extent, and the Hulk himself is slightly tamer, less mindless, and more amenable to cooperation with others.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: Doc Samson. An all-around nice guy who just had the bad luck of dating Betty Ross when the love of her life walked back into town. He doesn't begrudge Banner for it either, mostly because the Hulk saved Betty's life from General Ross's goons.
    • In one of the deleted scenes, he does admit he kind of wished Banner was dead, not out of hate of him, but for love of Betty, since she so clearly still held a torch for him. He's still quite civil and polite, though he's also pretty drunk.
  • Rule of Three: Emil Blonsky fights the Hulk three times. ...And loses three times.
  • Sequel Hook: The same genetic cocktail that created the Abomination seeps into a wound on Dr. Samuel Sterns forehead, causing his transformation into the Leader. Where exactly this will end up now is unknown, since the sequel seems to have been abandoned, though the fate of Samuel Sterns was sort of given in the lead-in comic for The Avengers, "Fury's Big Week."
    • Also, in The Stinger, Tony Stark mentions that he is "putting a team together", which meant that it was probably a sequel hook to the Avengers movie (which was an idea when it was first made.)
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Blonsky starts out as a mild example. Then things get worse.
  • The Stinger: Tony Stark appears shortly before the credits and converses with General Ross (who is drowning his sorrows at a bar). Stark reprimands him on the consequences of the supersoldier project that resulted in its prior cancellation, and tells him that they are putting together a team. A short clip released separately reveals that SHIELD sent Stark specifically so he'd piss Ross off and cause him to refuse to let the Abomination be on the team, something the WSC were pushing for.
  • Stealth Pun: Sikorsky MH-53 helicopter used by Ross has a nickname; the "Jolly Green Giant".
    • Also, in the final scene:

General Ross: Stark, you always wear such nice suits.

  • Too Dumb to Live: After receiving a strength boosting serum, Blonsky watches Hulk completely destroy a military division, throwing cars around, and shrugging off bullets like they were gnats. Blonsky drops his weapon, and advances on the Hulk, saying "Is that all you got?" The Hulk boots him in the chest so hard he flies backwards about 50 feet, smashing into a tree, and breaking every single bone in his body.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: There was a TV spot that basically spoiled Robert Downey Jr.'s cameo as Tony Stark towards the end of the film.
  • Troubled Fetal Position: Banner enters this after a particularly nasty Flashback Echo hits him in the bath.
  • Unstoppable Rage: This is Hulk's entire superpower, though it seems more centered on general heart rate (the "Hulk rate" being 200 BPM) than rage this time around, and can be released initially by extreme stress.
  • Weak but Skilled: Blonsky's second encounter with the Hulk (after he's been enhanced but before he becomes the Abomination)
    • Only by comparison. He's outrunning soldiers YEARS younger than he is, is dodging blows from the Hulk and taking him on with a pistol. It's only when he stops and tries to stare the Hulk down he gets splatted.
    • Even before the treatment, Blonsky notes that "if I could take everything I know now and put it in the body I had ten years ago, that would be something I wouldn't want to face."
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Doc Samson chews out General Ross after Betty got caught in the crossfire at the College.

Doc Samson: He protected her. You almost got her killed!

  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Blonksy seems like an overly gung-ho soldier but a relatively decent guy who's loyal to his work and his men in the beginning, but after doses of failed super-soldier serum and exposure to gamma radiation he slowly goes more and more power mad, until he goes completely destructively insane in the end.
    • A deleted scene emphasizes the potential for mental instability as a byproduct of the serum. Prior to the injection, Ross outright threatens to remove Blonsky from active duty if he starts to act strange.
  • Worthy Opponent: Subverted. Emil Blonsky views the Hulk this way, going out of his way to become strong enough to face him in combat. But in the end, he decides that Bruce doesn't deserve his power.
  • You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry: Given that this is an adaptation of the Trope Namer, of course this makes an appearance. Rather cleverly inserted too, as Bruce messes up the line while speaking Portuguese.

You wouldn't like me when I'm... hungry... Wait that doesn't sound right.

"HULK HUNGRIEST THERE IS!"

    • May also be a shout out to Dexters Laboratory, which used the line in an episode parodying the Hulk.
  1. This makes sense, considering that Bruce has been practicing staying calm with breathing exercises and whatnot, and Betty is freaking out because she knows just how close they came to a disaster.