The Incredible Hulk
Admittedly there are days when driving through rush hour traffic has me feeling a little hot under the collar. Fortunately, it's never resulted in any kind of alteration to my body structure or skin tone.
But for Bruce Banner (Edward Norton), getting upset is a big deal a really big deal.
While working on gamma ray research with his coworker Dr. Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), Banner experiences an accidental overdose of a radioactive isotope that causes a molecular change to his cell structure. The result is an uncontrollable biological reaction (read: big, green and mean) caused by emotional stress.
Fighting his way out of the laboratory, Banner flees from the institution and goes into hiding. While trying to find a cure for his condition, or at least a way to control it, he begins correspondence with a scientist (Tim Blake Nelson) who agrees to help him develop an antidote for the gamma poisoning.
Meanwhile, the cigar-chomping General Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) is expending a surfeit of military manpower to hunt down Banner, who is now considered to be a fugitive from the law. Secretly intending to use Banner as a prototype for making an army of ultimate fighting personnel, he engages Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) to help him corner and capture the mutant. A Russian mercenary-style soldier, Blonsky leads Ross's men in the attack on Banner who they've tracked down in the slums of Brazil. However when Blonsky glimpses the awesome strength of the enraged Hulk, he gains a new interest in the biological tampering that has been happening in the secret weapon's development lab overseen by Ross.
Compared to the 2003 release of The Hulk, this story is better paced, more engaging and less brooding. Yet with a major retailer, convenience store and fast food provider all hawking Hulk products to young consumers, many parents may feel muscled into buying tickets to see a Marvel Comic character that isn't always child friendly.
Banner's struggle to control his tantrums is one issue. Enraged by approaching army officers, he tosses armored tanks, crushes truck-mounted cannons and kicks one man across a field and into a tree. But when the Hulk is forced to face another mutant known as The Abominator, the bloodletting, body count and destruction escalates. Soldiers and civilians alike are targeted by the dueling twosome and collateral damage includes smashed vehicles, destroyed buildings and torn-up city streets. The film also includes some precursory sexual activities between Banner and Betty, as well as the depiction of a naked man in a shower.
Dealing with internal demons, or at least character flaws, is something with which most people can relate. That may account for the Hulk's popularity as a comic book figure and his return in The Incredible Hulk even after a disappointing outing in 2003. However, despite this script's improvements, this big green mutant may still not be an incredible choice for all members of the family.