Incredible Hulk Movie Novelization: Ain’t it UNGLAMORAYS?

May 29th, 2008 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The Incredible Hulk, part two of the “Avengers Saga” of Marvel films (there go my nipples again), is on its way in a few weeks. Naturally, Peter David wrote a novelization based on the upcoming movie. Since I did the same for Spider-Man 3 and Iron Man, I went up for round three by picking it up and seeing what it had to offer.

Incredible Hulk is like Ang Lee’s Hulk mixed with Superman Returns, only better than each of them. Granted, I did enjoy the older Hulk movie for the most part. I thought most of the stuff involving David Banner was fantastic and found him so sympathetic that I can’t even bring myself to call him a villain. But let’s be honest, the pacing had problems and there was a huge unbalance in the story where they try to tell the tale of a man’s tragic relationship with his father one minute and HOLY SHIT DID YOU SEE WHAT HE DID TO THAT TANK the next.

This new movie is most definitely not a sequel to the Ang Lee production, but like with Batman Begins and the Tim Burton Batman, stupid people will believe they’re connected no matter how many changes in continuity they spy. Still, the movie knows what we saw in Hulk and doesn’t give us a story based purely on origin. Though the Hulk’s origin is different this time around, it’s only delved into through explanations and brief flashbacks.

David’s book is based on the screenplay treatments of Edward Norton and Zak Penn. That means that it’ll be harder to tell how accurate it is to the final product than usual, based on the stories I’ve heard about the movie’s production. For one, Norton had been rewriting scenes on the set just about every day. For two, they decided to make some edits that have pissed him off. Even the little footage I’ve seen of the movie is different from what the book goes with. Such as that scene where Hulk tears a cop car in half and uses it as boxing gloves. Not only is that not mentioned at all here, but that scene involves Abomination talking. Abomination has no dialogue in the book after his transformation.

This could be a good thing or a bad thing. Truth is, there are a couple minor bits I wouldn’t mind changed.

Anyway, let’s go through the characters.

For the first half of the story, Bruce Banner is a hard guy to like. He’s like the opposite of Tony Stark. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Bruce is a nice guy and means well, but he spends all his energy preventing himself from Hulking out. We, the reader/viewer, want him to Hulk out. Tony Stark was a jerk, but we liked him because he couldn’t wait to become Iron Man. After a failed suicide attempt in Alaska, Bruce wanders the world for a while until spending some time in Brazil. Working in a bottling factory, Bruce spends his spare time practicing yoga and martial arts in order to keep his rage under control while investigating a plant that may cure him.

The difference between the old movie Bruce and the new movie Bruce is that this one actually has a goal. The Eric Bana Banner just became the Hulk and went through the motions as the other characters moved the story for him. At least Norton Banner is proactive, trying desperately to find a cure for his problem.

As the Hulk, the descriptions make him more or less the same as the last movie. Banner transforms into the Hulk six times throughout the story, but only three of them really count. In the novelization, Hulk only says one word and it’s a pretty unimpressive way to break the silence. I’m hoping they changed it for the movie so he yells about smashing or being the strongest one there is. At the very least he needs to scream his “you’re making me angry” catchphrase. There’s a running gag with that line that never gets any closure. Having him say that to the Abomination during the final battle would be perfect.

Thankfully, once Banner meets up with some supporting characters to play off of, he becomes far more bearable. In fact, if Ed Norton’s acting chops somehow fail to keep Bruce interesting, at least we have the rest of the cast to fall back on.

Yes, this even includes Betty. She shows up later in the story than she really should, but once she’s fully in the picture, she adds some hope and charm to Banner’s restless existence. Much like in the other movie, Betty plays the one thing that can calm the Hulk down or at least bring him back to Earth. She probably won’t be as likable as Pepper Potts, but she’s no Mary Jane. Though there is a dumb Aerosmith reference in there. Come on…

Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross gets slightly more space in this story than the last and plays the same character. While he comes across as cold and lacking any compassion for most of this, at least they well explain his reasons for why he doesn’t want the Hulk to be cured even if he is nigh impossible to control.

Emil Blonsky, the eventual Abomination, has little to do with his comic self. He isn’t a Russian KGB agent, but he is possibly the best commando the US government has on the payroll. While he differs from his comic self, he is still an entertaining figure with a nice evolution into his power-mad final state.

I should note that after a run-in with the Hulk early on in the story, Blonsky takes part in a secret revival of the Super Soldier experiments that created Captain America. Ross explains that years earlier, they were mostly experimenting on terrorist prisoners and it got exposed, which caused them to shut it down. There are also cryptic allusions to a failed experiment post-World War II that sounds very similar to the Grand Director/Commie Smasher Captain America.

Another military character Katherine Sparr, an assistant to Ross, gets a fairly big role. From Google, it seems she’s from the comics, but I really have no information on her.

Speaking of Google, there’s a part where she does some detective work that I really hope they alter or remove completely because I swear it will be the laughing stock of this movie, much like Peter Parker’s dance sequence was in Spider-Man 3.

It’s said that Norton’s rewrite of the script introduced Doctor Leonard Samson to the party and if that’s true, then God bless the man. As Banner has been on the run for three years, Samson, a psychiatrist at the same university where Betty teaches at, horns in on her and hits the gamma rebound. He’s charismatic and hard to hate, even if he is Banner’s obstacle to getting Betty back. There is a scene involving him and Ross that I seriously hope remains in the movie to give him some dimension.

Then there’s “Mr. Blue”. While Bruce is in Brazil, he corresponds with “Mr. Blue” online under the name “Mr. Green”. While he doesn’t know about the Hulk situation, he knows about the gamma flowing in Banner’s blood and has taken the interest in treating it. Banner’s main mission in the movie is to get to America and find “Mr. Blue” so he can cure him, since he’s come across a breakthrough that just may do it. I probably shouldn’t spoil who he turns out to be, but it shouldn’t be too hard to figure it out. You could always check IMDB if you’re that curious.

On the subject of strange cameos, Amadeus Cho gets a brief role as a college student that befriends Banner. I have a feeling this one won’t make the final cut. There’s Bruce’s loyal dog Rick, who exists for no reason other than get us to groan and roll our eyes. Rick isn’t much of a problem, considering he seems to get about a minute of screentime. Also be on the lookout for Captain Stan Lee of the S.S. Excelsior.

There’s also a weird reference to Hulk: The End out of the blue, where Banner discusses a nightmare he had to Betty.

The action is spread out well enough. Word is that the final Hulk vs. Abomination battle will be 26 minutes long. That’s far longer than it seems in the book, but like I said, the police car segment wasn’t mentioned. It’s all for the better since really, once Blonsky goes into full Abomination mode, he loses all sense of character. He doesn’t talk or anything. He just acts like a mindless monster and fights the Hulk. The fact that he’s able to talk in the movie can only improve it. Give that monster a monologue, I say.

The hyped Tony Stark appearance is mentioned, but the dialogue isn’t used. Just the gist of what he and Thaddeus Ross talk about. This scene is later in the movie.

As for humor, it won’t match up with Iron Man, but it should get a few snickers. There’s one scene involving Banner laying low as a pizza delivery guy, dealing with a bitchy sorority girl that I hope makes it into the movie.

All in all, it’s a pretty solid story. It’s meant to be lead-up to a huge monster fight with enough excitement and morality to keep us interested in the meantime and it succeeds there. I only hope that the final battle isn’t as muddy and dark as it was in the last movie. At least Blonsky becoming Abomination isn’t nearly as contrived as David Banner becoming Absorbing Man.

Not to mention the very end of Hulk vs. Abomination sounds like it’ll make for one kickass visual. I hope.

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3 comments to “Incredible Hulk Movie Novelization: Ain’t it UNGLAMORAYS?”

  1. Why do I get the feeling this movie’s based loosely off a very good Hulk video game?

  2. YAY! I was so hoping PAD did a novelization of this! The one he did for the ang lee Hulk had me convinced that movie was fantastic up until a few years ago. Now, i can’t read your review until Thursday night, but I’ll be back. I just wanted to say Thanks for making me hit up my local bookshop for the novelization. =)

  3. […] weeks back I read the Peter David novelization, as I’m wont to do, so I already had been spoiled in terms of the plot. While there are few […]