So, this is post #401... wow. I didn't know I would go that far with this. Maybe I can make it to 500. Anyway, here is Part 2 of "The Battle of the Hulk Movies." So, I might as well start off with a man who tends to have a good mustache... no, I'm not talking about Thomas Magnum.
General Thunderbolt Ross
Next up is the battle of the ‘staches as Sam Elliot faces William Hurt. Ross’s role in the films is similar but different. While he wants to keep his daughter away from Bruce, Ross’s motivations are a little different. In Hulk, he knew that Dr. David Banner killed his wife and performed some unsanctioned experiments. That experience plus Bruce’s occupation gives Ross a reason to not like the guy. As for Ross in The Incredible Hulk, he is actually after the Hulk to see if the military could use the Hulk to create super-soldiers. In the MCU, Ross reactivated the Super-Solder program and had Bruce unknowingly doing experiments when the accident happened.
While I consider Ross to be more antagonistic (he’s actually trying to stop the Hulk’s rampages) than villainous, that doesn’t mean he’s a nice guy. I think Marty McFly would have three words to describe him. I will say his douchiness is increased in the 2008 movie. I do think both men were good in the role but one was just better. Ultimately, I have to give this point to Sam Elliott. He just ruled the role in my opinion. It also helped that he actually has an authentic mustache. I liked the fractured relationship between he and Betty and I just liked his no-nonsense attitude.
Hulk (2003) – 2
The Incredible Hulk (2008) – 1
Now, we get to the other villains of the story. While Ross is after the Hulk, these guys are more likely to be a threat to everyone. We have David Banner (neither this one nor this one) as a weird version of the Absorbing Man up against Emil Blonsky as The Abomination. Their roles are pretty similar. They both get some genetic work done to them voluntarily and they both want the power of the Hulk. For David, he’ll get it by absorbing Bruce's power into himself. For Blonsky, he forces Samuel Sterns to transform him into what we call the Abomination.
Unfortunately, they aren’t the best villains in the world. David’s pretty much the wild card of the movie and it’s not because he’s being played by a bewildered Nick Nolte. He’s got mutated dogs (seriously, what the crap) and tries to kill his young son for Pete’s sake! He kind of seems all over the place. At least Nick Nolte gives a somewhat entertaining performance. I did like his interactions with Bruce. His powers did look interesting but when the final fight happens, all of that intrigue goes out the window. That last fight is weird but I’ll touch on that later.
Man, the dude is so ugly the ugliest man ever would say "Wow, I thought I looked ugly, but this guy takes the cake!"
Blonsky is better handled but not by much. He’s a little generic which is something you can unfortunately say about most of the MCU’s villains. While I feel like they could have done a little more with him, I still like him. He’s a much truer version of the comic book character. It also helps that Tim Roth did play the role pretty well. His look may not fit the source material, but it is truly an abomination. I mean, the man look toe up from the flow up! Overall, I have to give the point to the 2008 version on this. He may not be the best villain, but he was much better than what we got in 2003.
Hulk (2003) – 2
The Incredible Hulk (2008) – 2
Next up, I’ll be looking at the action of both movies. How can you call yourself a Hulk movie if you don’t have ‘Ole Mr. Green smashing up stuff? It’s not right nor is it representing, my brothers! So, which movie handled the action the best? You might think I’ll immediately say that the 2008 version did. Well… you’d be right.
Don’t get me wrong because the 2003 version does have good action in it. Hulk’s fight from the desert to San Francisco is easily the highlight of the film. His first transformation and the complete thrashing of the lab were also pretty cool. Heck, Hulk punting Glenn Talbot is hilariously awesome. Unfortunately, that’s where the good action ends. The fight with the mutant dogs is a bit lame mostly because you could barely see any of it. There’s also the fact that those dog effects didn’t look good then and now. At least it was creative in that it actually used mutant dogs. Then we get to the final fight which was a bit of a disappointment. After seeing it again, it’s not that it’s a bad fight. It’s just a bit confusing and the end where David “takes it all” is pretty weird.
The action in the 2008 version gets your attention easily. It’s fast-paced and edited well. The fights are comprehensible and make sense. Hulk’s first fight with the military was pretty awesome. Hulk’s fight with the Abomination is also awesome and is one of the highlights. Heck, even Bruce gets to engage in some nice chase scenes when he’s being chased down by the military. The movie definitely rules in the action department.
Hulk (2003) – 2
The Incredible Hulk (2008) – 3
Finally, it’s time to see how all of the different elements looked together in the story. As I said before, these aren’t my favorite comic book movies but they both have more pros than cons. Unfortunately, the cons are major. They both have good actors at the in the lead role. The effects are more than decent in both films. They also do their best to in doing their own thing while staying true to the comics. Their soundtracks are also pretty good and have their memorable points. I‘d say that I enjoyed TIH’s score more, but that may be because I heard it a lot on a podcast I used to listen to.
Ang Lee’s Hulk had a lot of interesting things going for it. It tried to focus a lot on the characters as well as the action. It also doesn’t play like a standard superhero movie and that’s cool because Hulk isn’t the standard superhero. I also liked how the movie was edited. It was basically a comic book brought to life. It can be off-putting at times, but it works more than it should. I liked the story but the thing that pretty much hurts the film is the pacing. It takes a long time for us to get the Hulk. Add David Banner, who was not a great villain, into the mix. Also, the movie feels too long clocking in at about 132 minutes (excluding the end credits). Finally, the climax and final fight were pretty lackluster.
More like "Bow-wow-wow, yipee-hell-to-the-naw" with these mutts.
As for The Incredible Hulk, it also had some good things going for it. It had fist-pumping action and showed us the standard Hulk story. Bruce is out to cure himself while being chased by the military. While I like that it’s not a retelling of the origin, there’s a part of me that wishes we got that with Marvel’s Cinematic Hulk. While Norton and Roth were good in their roles, I thought that Tyler and Hurt weren’t as good as their counterparts in the 2003 version. I also wish there was more introspection in the movie. It’s like the creators didn’t want to stay in one spot and let us get to know these characters better. I remembered that a lot of scenes (about 43 minutes) got cut out of the film. While some of those scenes needed to be trimmed, most of those scenes needed to be in the final cut. Without them, the final cut feels disappointing.
So, why was Doc Samson mostly cut from the film? Those scenes were good!
In the end, I don’t know what to say. It’d be easy if one was really good and the other not as good, but I don’t get that here. They both have noticeable flaws. So, what entertained me more? I actually have to say that the 2008 version gets this vote but not by much. It’s a straight-up action movie and has a nice story to it. While it does speed along to its detriment, it does have some heartfelt moments.
Hulk (2003) – 2
The Incredible Hulk (2008) – 4
Well, with TIH having 4 points and Hulk having 2 points, it’ll be TIH that gets the win here. Now, this isn’t me dissing the 2003 version. As I said before, it also had a lot of good points to it. It’s just that it isn’t as entertaining as it could have been. I do recommend you see both movies and make up your own mind. I don’t know if the perfect Hulk movie has been made yet. If they can infuse the introspection the 2003 version with the fist-pumping action of the 2008 version, we may get an awesome movie. We did get a little bit of that with The Avengers, so I hope we can get more from Marvel in the future. Well, I’m outta here. It’s time to move on to another hero. Peace, God Bless, and “Hulk Smash!”