We Don't Think There Should Be a New 'Hulk' Movie and Here's WhyDon Kaye |
We are still three days away from the opening of 'The Avengers' on thousands of movie screens around the country (it's already opened in Europe to record-breaking box office), but some of the biggest buzz surrounding the movie comes from its portrayal of the Green Goliath himself, the Incredible Hulk.
So that leads to this question: should the Hulk get a third shot at his own solo movie?
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige recently said he didn't think that was going to happen, but the tremendous word of mouth on the character in 'The Avengers' -- it wouldn't be a stretch to say he steals the movie -- has prompted some other Marvel execs to perhaps rethink that. In an interview,, the head of Marvel's Consumer Products division (in other words, the all-important toys and merchandise) says that if the Hulk's popularity continues to soar as people see 'The Avengers,' a Hulk TV series will move forward along with a new movie in 2015.
Can the character carry his own big-screen blockbuster again?
We think the answer is no.
Two previous screen incarnations starring two different actors -- director Ang Lee's 2003 film 'Hulk' and Louis Leterrier's 2008 entry 'The Incredible Hulk' -- failed to capture the imaginations of fans or audiences. Both did decent box office business, but neither Eric Bana's take on Dr. Bruce Banner in the former or Edward Norton's vision of the role in the latter was memorable or compelling enough to inspire talk of more cinematic adventures.
But now, the combination of Mark Ruffalo's excellent performance in 'The Avengers,' writer/director Joss Whedon's smoothly confident handling of the character, and solid motion capture work from Industrial Light and Magic has created a Hulk that is dynamic, engaging, even funny. Plus you get to see him participate in some truly smashing action against opponents worthy of the challenge.
The Hulk seems to work better in the team environment of 'The Avengers' because his involvement is a double-edged sword: can we control this thing once we let it out? Sure, he can pummel our enemies, but is he going to also cream us along the way? On his own, the Hulk is just a mindless force of destruction, and in the two earlier movies, it was simply about how to contain and/or eradicate that force. In the new film, he is a sort of ultimate weapon that the Avengers can deploy, but that deployment comes with terrible risks.
As played by Ruffalo and written by Whedon, Bruce Banner knows those risks and is reluctant to go into battle because of them. But as part of a team, he is eventually required to make a stand and comes to terms with it. Ruffalo's Banner is much closer to the Bixby version than either Bana's or Norton's brooding, self-obsessed scientists. He's made his peace (more or less) with what he is and is now just interested in finding the best way to live with that, and even make it useful.
Speaking of Bixby ,we've known about the TV show for a while (it's one of the 4,367 projects that Guillermo Del Toro is developing) and there is certainly precedent there in the successful 1978 - 1982 CBS series. But a big-screen Hulk can really only be useful in the most outsized situations, such as an invasion from space or something equally cosmic. The problems that Bixby fixed on the TV show would look ridiculously inconsequential in a $150 or $170 million movie. (And who would play him on TV? Ruffalo is a movie actor so wouldn't two different ongoing Hulks be confusing?)
And those are just the beginning of the questions.
Is a big-screen Hulk going to face more enemies from the Nine Realms, separate from whatever, say, Thor is doing? The villains in the two previous films -- Banner's father as a loose adaptation of the Absorbing Man in the first one, and the Abomination in the second -- were among their weakest aspects.
That's because the Hulk, in many ways, is a hero and villain all in one package. But he needs good guys -- in other words, more superheroes, and not just anonymous military men -- to bounce his potential villainy against, while facing some truly evil bad guys on the flip side to bring out his heroic qualities.
So while we like the Hulk as part of the team, and love the way Ruffalo and Whedon really nail the character in 'The Avengers,' we think that his appearances should be special and not expected every two years. Save him for 'The Avengers 2' or, what the hell, maybe even have him pop up to help Cap out of a jam in 'Captain America 2.' The Hulk is an ultimate weapon -- and like all such devices, should be used judiciously.