By Derek Scarzella
Recently prompted by the article Keith Phipps wrote over at Dissolve about the 2003 movie Hulk, I’ve done some rethinking of this big budget misfire myself.
Feel free to read his article, as I’m not going to argue for or against him point by point, but rather share my experience with a movie that was at once a great moment in comic book movie history and a tremendous failure.
Basically, the movie dove too deep into the whole “mythos” aspect of the character and lost itself in the process. It went out of it’s way to overcomplicate what is ultimately a simple story and tried too many visual tricks that were confusing and, at worst, gimmicky and annoying. There are also strange choices in terms of plot, like the literal dog fight Hulk has in the movie.
But hidden in the chaos is an incredibly well shot film that has magnificent details and at times manages to get at the nadir of the character itself. Two scenes typify this, with the first being the bathroom scene that perfectly encapsulates what the Hulk is in Banner’s life. Here it is:
The second is the tank fight. Anyone who grew up reading the comics knows that at the end of the day it’s all about the Hulk smashing stuff. In this scene where he finally goes up against the might of the U.S military you couldn’t ask for anything better. At times majestic, at others absolutely brutal, the whole scene is epic and truly Hulk-worthy. Check it out.
While the film as a whole was ultimately a misfire that didn’t get a direct sequel despite grossing well, I can say that it represents a time when comic book movies were still finding their legs. Experimentation was happening at a deeper level and risks were being taken. While I do enjoy the relative divine simplicity of MARVEL films right now, I can say that I do appreciate this film and its attempts to exploit something that may be missing from modern super hero films: quiet moments of majesty.
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Derek Scarzella is a lone wolf running through the night with a heart full of dynamite and a limitless passion for Action movies and all things awesome. ‘Nuff said.