There was tremendous excitement over Lost’s Damon Lindelof making his Marvel debut with the Ultimate Wolverine vs. Ultimate Hulk miniseries. The writer, at the height of his popularity, was paired with Leinil Francis Yu so anticipation was running rampant. The first issue arrived and there, the behemoth literally tore the Canadian mutant in half – something we’d never seen before. The second issue ratcheted things up and then….nothing. At least not for threel years and by the time we got the final issues in 2009, few cared. The momentum and excitement was long gone and could not be recaptured.
Marvel Knights’ Motion Comics saw the potential here, and adapted the story into a multi-part serial totaling about 1:10 and for a change, did a good job casting well-matched vocal performers for the two lead roles.
The entire story is now collected on Shout! Factory’s release, Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk, this Tuesday. Picking up on previous threads, Bruce Banner and alter-ego was hiding out in Tibet letting the world think him dead. Instead, uber-suspicious Nick Fury knows better and hires Wolverine to go finish him off.
They talk, they fight, they dream and we get various cameos from the rest of the Ultimates universe. Perhaps the most significant event to come out of this fairly thin story was the introduction of Jennifer Walters, a scientist work on the Super-Soldier research and becoming that world’s She-Hulk.
Yu’s artwork is never short of gorgeous and he fits in nicely with the more realistic-looking Ultimates world, coupled with Dave McCaig’s excellent color art. Unfortunately, the Motion Comics approach does their work a disservice. If anything, the movements are jerkier than previous productions and the actions are stiff or off-kilter. The concept does a good job with special effects and transitions but when you’re asking two-dimension artwork to try and gain motion, things are limited. The entire concept of Motion Comics appears to have come and gone, especially with digital productions, such as Madefire’s offerings, introducing a new generation of animated fare.
The sole bonus feature is a 7:26 look back from Supervising Producer Kalia Cheng and Yu, which is interesting but far from informative.
DC and Marvel revamp their characters a lot. A lot. They’ll give suits and names to new people, give them back to the originals again, come up with interpretations so far afield of the original that there’s nothing left but the name. And they all fail or succeed at varying degrees. While it may not actually be the case, Aquaman is generally considered to be the most-rebooted character in DC Comics. There were so many versions of him that he was declared “radioactive”, and left to lay fallow for many years until Geoff Johns had the time to come back to him and start him anew, largely by going back to basics. Not exactly ignoring everything that’s come before, but by creating a good enough current version that people were willing to forgive and forget the past.
After a bit of thought, I came to the conclusion that the most rebooted character in Marvel Comics is The Hulk. Not in the sense of a new origin or person in the suit, so to speak, but in the vibe between the character and his alter-ego. The battle for control between Bruce Banner and The Hulk has been there since day one. But the winner in the game, and the playing field on which the battle has taken place, has changed more often than Katy Perry after her third encore. The Hulk has been made intelligent, made less intelligent, been shot off into space, made MORE intelligent, been separated from Bruce Banner, been re-integrated, and any number of permutations of those scenarios in between. Some have lasted years, like Peter David’s awesome run, and some, like John Byrne’s, barely got out of the gate. Most recently, we’re gained three more Hulks of varying genders, hues and textures, the original Green guy has been separated from Banner (again, see above list), and Banner was some sort of Dr. Moreauesque madman that The Hulk was out to kill. In honesty, it’s gotten so incomprehensible that I had to walk away from it all and just wait for the inevitable turn of the wheel.
And turn it has.
DC took the plunge a year ago and rebooted everything, giving them a chance to wipe the slate clean for any character that wasn’t working at what they thought at their full ability, and subtly leave alone the stuff that was (i.e., Batman and Green Lantern). And largely, it’s been a success. Marvel, all the while swearing it isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to DC’s relative win, has chosen to drink from the same hole. They’re restarting their books, with new titles, numbering and creative teams (save for Dan Slott remaining on Spider-Man, for which we are all rightly thankful). The new books do not reboot the characters in the brute-force way that DC has, but with each new creative team comes the opportunity to take the characters in A Bold New Direction.
Mark Waid, who has recently shown great style and grace on Daredevil, has been handed the reins to The Hulk in his new title, The Indestructible Hulk. Like all the new titles, it features a new hook to hang the character on. Banner and Hulk are one again, And Banner has taken a new tack in the battle – management, as opposed to containment or cure. So he resolves to do as much as he can to make amends for The Hulk’s actions while he’s in charge, and when he’s not, places himself in trust of people who can point The Hulk in the right direction so he can at least smash things that need smashing. Both of these strategies are achieved by both turning himself in to, and applying for a job with, SHIELD. He makes the case for both by presenting an invention that can purify the atmosphere and eliminate airborne diseases, and by taking out The Mad Thinker virtually single-handed – I’ll leave it to you to determine which alter-ego does which.
It’s a neat idea that goes in new directions. Like Hank Pym and Peter Parker, most writers forget that Bruce Banner is a top-level scientist, one of the greatest minds in the world. But, as he says in the book, he’s largely courted not for his brains but his body. In the past, Banner’s role has largely been that of plot-device. When he’s not his own hapless sidekick that gets in trouble at the worst moments, he’s the guy who creates a device at the last moment to control The Hulk, or at least try to. Both Pym and Parker have gotten more of a chance to let their genius shine brighter, and so far it’s stuck. Giving Banner a chance to do the same is a good idea.
I have worries, or more correctly, facets of the same worry. Namely, the book is eternally named after the muscular side of the pairing, and I’ll be curious to see how long readers will read about a scientist before they demand they Get To The Fucking Monkey. Waid has done an astounding job at character work in his career, and it’s that talent that will be needed to make the readers care as much about the brains as they do about the brawn. The first issue goes a long way towards that goal – Hulk appears less than Banner does, and Banner’s scenes in a small town diner do more to drive the plot than the Hulk pager do. Banner talks a good game, but his words could just as easily be interpreted as those of an addict trying to explain how he’s got it all figured out, this time it’ll work, he can cope with his issues.
And that sort of leads into the other facet of my worry. Like Aquaman, Hulk has been re-imagined SO many times, it’s hard for me to imagine a take that will last. It seems almost as if Waid has taken that into consideration here. Anything, ANYTHING that Banner tries to do with The Hulk is one tantrum away from falling apart. This seems like a very good idea, and Waid’s writing makes me want it to last. But too often in comics is the desire, both by the readers and the company, for a character to return to first position. So as much as I like the new improved Hank Pym, I fear that another writer is going to revert him to the bitch-slapping paranoid. So too here – I dread the day that Banner’s best-laid plans go astray once again. This is a good enough take that I WANT it to succeed, though I know that it will be decided by a power over which Banner has no control: the readership.
OK, no it hasn’t. But I bet I sure got your attention. Let’s have a quiet chat here, nerds, shall we?
Joss Whedon, Emperor of the Nerds, has ascended to the top of the mountain in Hollywood. Who knew all it took was a couple billion bucks behind the largest franchise film in history to get there? With that being said, Disney / ABC / Marvel has officially dropped the proverbial “dump-truck of money” at Joss’ gilded doorstep. And with it comes his triumphant return to television. And every geek in America (and parts of Europe and Asia, I suppose) holds its breath in anticipation.
The S.H.I.E.L.D show, as we’ve gleaned from what few words have graced us from St. Serenity, will take place in the Marvel Movieverse, but will not be sequel to The Avengers. Aside from that? Well, there’s not much else being said. So what are we to do? Speculate of course! Consider this my open air wish list for the show itself. What it could be, and what it shouldn’t.
First and foremost? I want continuity. I want the show to play in not just New York. I want weekends in Wakanda, layovers in Latveria, as well as trysts in the Triskelion. Marvel has a rich tapestry to explore, and a series that gets too many kicks in a single environment ends up becoming predictable. I’d like to think of the helicarrier as our Serenity, and the 616 provides us a new and cool place to explore every week.
And while we’re on that topic, who, prey-tell, should be doing the exploring? If I had my way, I’d free Colbie Smulders from How I Met Your Mother (which I truly love) in lieu of a permanent station as the show anchor. Whedon is known for his strong portrayal of female characters. Sadly, the movie was too pumped full of testosterone to really have much for Maria Hill or Black Widow to do beyond get a little scuffed, and pouty. I say play to your strengths, Master Joss. Maria Hill would not only be recognizable to the masses, but she (Ms. Smulders) has the depth and chops to carry a show on her shoulders with ease. And beside her? Well, I want all the S.H.I.E.L.D. stalwarts. Dust off Falcon, Quartermaine, and the offspring of Dum Dum Dugan (since I believe he was in the Cap movie and is quite not-amongst-the-living).
And what good guy is good without a bad guy to combat? Marvel’s bench is deep with cool villains perfect for the silver screen. Obviously no spy-based show in the 616 would be worth its’ salt without the perfunctory associations of ne’er-do-wells: Hydra, AIM, the Hand, etc. Heck, bonus points if they incorporate “The Ten Rings” from the Iron Man franchise. But aside from the machinations of large criminal organizations comes a bevvy of singular baddies that S.H.I.E.L.D. could be responsible for removing from the picture. Who here wouldn’t giggle a little if they saw the Purple Man, Baron Zemo, or dare I suggest the Hood making their way onto the teevees? No one, that’s who.
And would it be too much to ask for an occasional cameo? Yes, we know that all the Avengers are going to have full dance cards for a while. But nothing, and I mean nothing keeps fans (casual and crazy) coming back for more than the off chance the real Dr. Banner, Dr. Stark, or Captain America shows up to shoot the breeze. And if not for our “actual” movie stars, maybe a secondary cameo from Dr. Selvig, General Ross, or Agent Coul – err… never mind. The point remains the same. After five-plus feeder movies? There’s a metric ton of characters in the toybox that will help keep the show fresh.
And if I have only one wish fulfilled for this show-to-be… it’s all in the presentation. Smallville started strong, but quickly degraded into predictable schlock. The tendency for all TV (dramas and sci-fi shows alike) is to become machines of procedure. S.H.I.E.L.D. can’t bode well if it quickly becomes “case of the week.” Same could be said if it goes the direction of Lost or Heroes… and becomes obsessed with serialization. The key is, was, and will always be balance. Have an overarching storyline peppered with great single episodes to chew on. With an ensemble cast in place, this will all fall in line.
Ultimately, Whedon’s return to the medium that has raised him up as much as it’s let him down stands to be a great reckoning for our king-nerd. Where Firefly and Dollhouse were quickly dispatched due to poor schedule placements and too-small-of-a-fanbase-to-keep-it-on-the-air, S.H.I.E.L.D. stands the most promise to succeed if only for it’s parent franchise feeding the masses now hungry for more Marvel. You know, all those people who loved the movie(s) but were way too afraid of going to a comic shop to read about their new favorite characters. So long as the show can walk the line between “cool spy adventures” and “snarky fan-service”, and Marvel backs the show up with continually successful movies… the sky is the limit. And in that sky? A gleaming CGI set for the Triskelion.
Marc Alan Fishman and fellow ComicMixers Emily S. Whitten, Mike Gold, Glenn Hauman and Adriane Nash will be at the Baltimore Comic-Con today and tomorrow, mostly hanging around his Unshaven Comics booths, selling his wares to the unwary, and screaming obscenities at nearby Yankees fans. Drop by and say hello.
SUNDAY: John Ostrander and George Bernard Shaw, Shakespeare, Del Close, and Stan Lee.
This past weekend I decided to place my vote (that’s “Dollar Bills” to DC’s Bob Wayne) for The Avengers for a second time. I did it first and foremost to teach Liam Neeson a lesson: If you don’t know the movie adaptation of a board game is a bad idea, maybe you need a new agent. Second to that, I personally wanted to see the film again to revel in Mark Ruffalo’s performance as the Hulk. If there were to be a single break-out star (pun intended) of the film, Bruce Banner certainly was it. For many who saw The Avengers, this is a shared sentiment. So, this begs us to ask the dudes at the House of Mouse… What’s next for the spinach-hued smasher?
If we are to believe the internet (and when has that ever led us down the wrong path?), The Hulk will next appear on the small screen via ABC. The network is pursuing a reboot of the once powerful series starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferigno. If this is to be true… I throw myself on the mercy of Mickey. Don’t do it.
Simply put? The Hulk begs for bigger and better treatment. The old series did last five seasons, and featured a few TV movies (co-starring Daredevil and Thor no less!), but this was long before the days of CGI. Long before the Hulk decimated Harlem. Or flew into the upper atmosphere on the nose of a fighter jet. Not that the recent movie Hulks have been perfect mind you, but they put poor old Lou out to pasture pretty quickly when it comes to conveying the size and power of the Incredible Hulk.
If Marvel/ABC ponies up enough dough to downsize the Hulk to the boob tube, it would certainly provide the interest of advertisers and the public at large to watch. But even with an HBO budget for a series, could today’s special effect houses handle the behemoth? In a word… no.
The fluidity of the Hulk within the Avengers was, as many fans agree, the first time the character didn’t feel entirely too fake to enjoy. Ang Lee’s monstrosity lumbered around the fabricated sets like a big baby throwing a tantrum. Louis Leterrier’s Hulk (who obviously did way more cardio than Ruffalo’s) fared better, but was more Max Headroom than Golum by comparison to the most recent iteration. While CGI and effect houses have certainly improved their efforts on TV, do yourself a favor: Watch the best episode of Heroes, Smallville, or Sharktopus Vs. Crocasaurus. Then go back and watch the Avengers. I’ll wait for you. Go on. Done? Now tell me that the scene-eating Hulk would be done any justice on a fraction of the budget that went into creating him on the big screen.
Don’t get me wrong, kiddos. For the chance to see Mark Ruffalo take the character on in a weekly serial, I’d be DVR’ing that series faster than Jeph Loeb could crap out a comic book. And while a TV show would obviously focus on Banner more than the titular titan, when it would come time to Hulk out, we’d get only a poor representation of what we know the character could be. And if they were to regress back to hiring a bodybuilder to smash cardboard walls? Well, who amongst us would not scoff as we wrote anonymous hatespew across the message boards?
If we can agree that Ruffalo’s Banner is following the Incredible Hulk movie of 2008, then we must know that there was an amazing set-up left for the sequel. Samuel Sterns was shown at the end of the film getting dosed by Banner’s blood/chemical sludge. His head began to throb and pulsate, and a creepy smile crawls across his face. Obviously meant as a wink and a nudge to the Leader, one of the Hulk’s better villains. With Ruffalo’s Banner perfectly balancing the line of intelligence and pent-up rage, only the movie screen can truly do the character justice in a battle with another gamma irradiated foe. Relegated to a lesser medium (in terms of only the effect work mind you), the Incredible Hulk might only come across the Credible Hulk.
I say make S.H.I.E.L.D. the TV show, and let Hulk continue to smash the box office.
What goes into making a memorable character for a story?
According to Lawrence Block, author of over one hundred novels and recipient of the Grand Master award from the Mystery Writers of America, they must be three things: plausible, sympathetic, and original.
I think that’s a damn good definition of what makes a character real. Except that I think Mr. Block used the wrong word. It’s not “sympathetic,” it’s “empathetic.” Now, sympathy and empathy are kissing cousins, but sympathy, I think, allows the individual to separate from the character just a bit, to feel for the character while still allowing for some separation – six degrees of separation, if you will. Empathy, on the other hand causes the individual to feel with the character– it’s the recognition of self in someone else.
Without that recognition, without that empathy, the character is in danger of falling flat, of eliciting a “who cares?” response. The great characters are empathetic – Scarlett O’Hara of Gone With The Wind, the Joad family (especially Tom and “Ma”) of The Grapes Of Wrath, Vito and Michael Coreleone of The Godfather, Caleb Trask of East Of Eden, Joe and Kirsten Clay of Days Of Wine And Roses, Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, King George VI in The King’s Speech.
In comics there is Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and his sister, Death, the X-Men’s Max Eisenhardt/Erik Lensherr/Magneto and Jean Grey/Phoenix (Dark and “Light”), Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson, Selina Kyle/Catwoman, and Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman. Of course there are more; I just chose those characters that appeared at the top of my head as I write this. You will have your own characters that engender empathy.
Originality is hard. The history of storytelling begins when our ancestors first sat down around the fire and told tales to ward off the dark night. The history of storytelling is ripe with heroes and villains, love and betrayal, valor and cowardice. Originality, I think, comprises the total picture. As Block says in his book Telling Lies For Fun And Profit, “it’s not the quirks that make an enduring character, but the essential personality which the quirks highlight.” In other words, and like I said, it’s the whole picture, the complete character or individual that makes him or her an original.
Norma Desmond’s quirk is her inability to adjust to age and talkies, to realize and accept that time, and Hollywood, has marched on. Tom Joad’s quirk is his inability to accept injustice, even if it causes him to murder, which he sees as no injustice. Vito Coreleone’s quirk is to see the world as an “us against them” scenario, to nurture the family while attacking the world. Michael Coreleone’s quirk is to talk of love and loyalty to the family while he destroys it. Swamp Thing’s quirk is that he is a plant trying to be a man. And Death loves life, even as she takes it away.
Plausibility allows the reader to suspend his or her disbelief, to accept that the actions of the character are true and real and acceptable. Now in comics, of course, plausibility is a two-edged sword. Of course we know that nobody can fly; nobody is invulnerable or runs at supersonic speed; no one can turn invisible or survive the explosion of a gamma bomb (except Bruce Banner, of course!) But as readers of superhero comics, we willingly suspend our disbelief, the implausibility of the character, before we even open the book. Why? Well, I think it has something to do with the capturing of our imagination, the “what if?” factor that I wrote about several months ago. But I also think that the other factors mentioned above play a role in our acceptance of Superman or Rogue. Empathy: “I get it. I know what it’s like to be Rogue, to be unable to really touch someone, to really get close to someone.” Or “Yeah, sometimes I feel like Kal-El, a stranger in a strange land.”
I watched Game Change on HBO. The movie is based on Game Change:Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime, by John Heilemann of New York magazine and Mark Halperin of Time. Both men are seasoned politically analysts, and their book, which was released on January 11, 2010, is an inside look at the Presidential campaign of 2008. The HBO movie focuses on Palin, played by Julianne Moore, from the moment the McCain campaign decides to ask her to be his running mate to Obama’s running mate.
The movie is riveting. Moore buries herself completely into the role, and I’m guaranteeing right now that she wins an Emmy for her performance. Sarah Palin is, without a doubt, love her or hate her, an original. She is empathetic – and sympathetic – as she works to maintain her sense of self and, love them or hate them, her own beliefs against the McCain and Republican political machinery.
But is she plausible? The movie shows that, as far as being capable of being “one heartbeat away from the Presidency,” Palin was an implausible candidate. But don’t tell that to the huge – and I mean huge – groundswell of love and support she engendered.
Yesterday afternoon I went to my local comic book store, Vector Comics, to pick up my haul. Joe and Tina, the terrific and wonderful owners of the shop, were busy with other customers, so I browsed through the stacks to see if anything not on my list that caught my interest. (Actually, almost everything piques my appetite, and if I allowed myself to buy everything I want, I couldn’t pay the rent!)
Know what I found? The Sarah Palin comic from Bluewater Comics.
If you’re a regular reader of this column, you know that my daughter, Alixandra Gould – yes, she’s keeping her name – married the love of her life, Jeffrey Christopher Gonzalez, last week. (A big thank you! to Mike Gold for posting a beautiful column last week that I posted on Facebook, then e-mailed to every single person I’ve ever met just to make sure they read it, and which Alix and Jeff thought was terrifically cool.) So of course I decided to write about superhero marriages this week. Not a big leap, is it?
I just finished googling “superhero marriages.” There were “about” 7,750,000 hits in 0.23 seconds, the most recent being a slide show in the Huffington Post posted only four days ago – well, five days ago since this appears on Monday – on November 9, 2011 titled “Comic Book Weddings: 8 Of Our Favorite Superhero Weddings.” In order, they are (1) Spider-Man, a.k.a. Peter Parker, and Mary Jane Watson in 1987’s The Amazing Spider-Man Giant Annual; (2) 1962’s The Incredible Hulk #319 in which Bruce Banner and Betty Ross’ nuptials are interrupted by a “special guest”; (3) The X-Men’s Scott Summers (Cyclops) and Jean Grey (Phoenix) in 1994; (4) Wonder Woman in her eponymous title married Mr. Monster in 1965 – ‘nuff said!; (5) Aquaman and Mera in Aquaman #18, 1964; (6) “Death Waits to Kiss the Bride” screamed the cover of Lois Lane #128 in 1972 – featuring the now iconic picture of Superman holding somebody’s dead body; (7) The Flash races down the altar to stop Iris West from marrying the wrong Barry Allen in The Flash #165, 1966; and (8) Wonder Girl, a.k.a. Donna Troy, marries Terry Long in Tales Of The Teen Titans #50, 1985.)
How did they miss Reed Richards and Sue Storm Richards, a.k.a. Mr. Fantastic and The Invisible Woman? Im-not-so-ho, Reed and Sue are the most realistically portrayed marriage “pros” in the comics universe.
The couple married in 1965, making this year the 46th anniversary of their being a Mr. and Mrs. (They look pretty damn remarkable, don’t they? Must be all those visits to the Negative Zone.) Down through the years, Reed and Sue “have and held, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health,” and have loved and cherished each other through everything the Marvel Universe could and continues to throw at them, including “real life” curves like a miscarriage, potential affairs, political differences, and a brother’s death.
Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson came pretty close in matching the Richards’ record – not in years married, but in a realistic view of marriage – but then Marvel decided to “disappear” their relationship. Clark Kent and Lois Lane had a wonderful thing going, too, but DC recently terminated without prejudice that couple, too.
And what the hell happened to Scott and Jean?
Jean Loring, the wife of Ray Palmer (The Atom) has a “mental breakdown” and goes on a rampage, killing Sue Dibny, the wife of the Elongated Man (Ralph Dibny), in one of the most gruesome scenes I’ve ever seen in any comic.
Betty Banner, wife of Bruce Banner (The Hulk) was abused, suffered miscarriages, was turned into a harpy, and died. She got better and turned red.
Ang Lee’s [[[Hulk]]] film failed because he spent too much time on the Jekyll/Hyde aspects, the very ones that inspired Stan Lee. After all these years, people wanted to see the Hulk leap and smash things. When he leapt, we cheered, but there just wasn’t enough of it.
Director Louis Leterrier achieved a far better balance in this year’s [[[Incredible Hulk]]] which builds on the mythos while firmly settling into the new Marvel Cinema Universe. He wisely covers the obligatory origin materials during the title sequence and then gives us a story.
Unfortunately, the story just wasn’t as gripping as we had hoped. The film, arriving Tuesday on DVD, is largely the Army hunting the Hulk as Bruce Banner searches for a cure. While that worked fine in the 12-page [[[Tales to Astonish]]] stories, it’s not nearly enough for a feature film. The biggest problem with Zak Snyder’s story is that the Super Soldier formula that is now linked to the Hulk and the Abomination is clearly able to turn people into weapons of mass destruction and all the military sees is a weapon. Not a single person in uniform saw it as anything else and frankly, we’ve seen this theme before and done better elsewhere.
The notion that Emil Blonsky is a soldier towards the end of his career, with nothing to lose, and therefore more than willing to become the Abomination is a nice way to integrate the character from the comics to the film. But, he’s as single-minded as everyone else in the story, which is a shame.
Penn’s script lifts the Mr. Blue character from Bruce Jones’ celebrated run on the title but reveals him to be Dr. Samuel Sterns, and frankly, I just didn’t buy their connection or the way Sterns suddenly switches from dedicated scientist to Colin Clive in [[[Frankenstein]]]. The fact that in the comics Stearns evolves into the Leader complete with big green head means he’s around should the movie franchise continue so hopefully he’ll be rounded out.
As presented, Leterrier’s film is pretty much A to B to C with pauses for Hulking out and destroying things until the climactic fight in Harlem. I’ve certainly seen worse, but had hoped for something better considering [[[Iron Man]]], released just weeks prior, showed that serious issues could be addressed through fantastic means.
I just found a website that I’m having a lot of fun with. HulkOutWithVault.com is promotional tie-in between The Incredible Hulk movie and green energy drink soda Vault. It’s the digital equivalent of boardwalk cutouts. Upload a photo with a face into one of four Hulk movie backgrounds, then send them to your friends for all to enjoy.
Since ComicMix Managing Editor Rick Marshall tirelessly works to make sure my posts are decipherable, and graciously contributed his image to one of the Wizard World Chicago 2008 photo galleries, I decided to use him as my demo.
The image posted here is Rick partying with the ol’ Jade Giant himself. More pictures are posted after the jump.
As a footnote of sorts to his recent review of The Incredible Hulk, Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter made an interesting observation about a potential subtext in the Paramount/Marvel Studios blockbuster.
According to Spurgeon, one particular element in the relationship between the characters of Dr. Bruce Banner and Gen. "Thunderbolt" Ross might be worth a little more exploration — but don’t expect the House of Ideas to lead the discussion:
* in case you were wondering, Incredible Hulk continues Marvel’s weird Summer 2008 conversational subtext on creators’ rights issues, as General Thunderbolt Ross demands ownership of Bruce Banner’s body of work and licensing rights, and turns the Super-Soldier formula over to another work-for-hire creator. I can hardly wait for Thor’s exegesis on trademarks and public domain.
Going into this film, you will need to play a bit of a trick on your brain. You need to completely forget everything you experienced in Ang Lee’s 2003 version of the film, while still comparing this film to its predecessor.
You’re going to want to compare this film to Marvel’s previous blockbuster, Iron Man, but you shouldn’t do that — this is a whole new beast (pun intended) and needs to be treated as such.
That said, this film certainly delivers for the franchise, with the only major problem being the anticlimactic fight scene at the end, but we’ll get to that.
Starting off, the abbreviated back-story of this film is given to us in the form of the opening titles. Changing from the books: there is no Rick Jones and no Gamma Bomb, but instead a quiet gamma test on our Dr. Bruce Banner that goes horribly wrong, causing him to “hulk-out” and destroy the facility while also injuring his assistant/girlfriend Betty Ross. He goes on the run from the government, and we come into the story a few years later in Brazil, where Banner has now gone five months without “incident.” The first 15 minutes of the film keep the audience well entertained without the need of the Jade Giant, with some great character development and a fair amount of humor.
On the critical side of things, the biggest change from the first film was easily the look of the hulk and computer-generated imaging throughout the film. This was a drastic change from 2003’s “Shrek on Steroids” look. We’re given plenty of shots of the hulk in plain daylight and in action, and the look is next to flawless. If you are not a fan of CGI to begin with, you have to understand that you are going to see a movie about a gigantic green monster here, and no one is throwing Lou Ferrigno in green makeup this time around.