“The Avengers” is already set to be one of the summer’s biggest blockbusters and it’s easy to understand why. Superhero films already do well at the box office and this one has an outstanding cast with more Academy Award winners than any other film of its genre. It’s also helmed by a worshiped (though polarizing for some) director. Most importantly, this is a film that we’ve basically been watching two hour-long trailers for since 2008. Yet as excited as many are, “The Avengers” is a bit of an overwhelming prospect for some average moviegoers. So you haven’t seen all the other Marvel movies leading up to this film and you haven’t read the comics. Will you still enjoy this film? The answer is yes, but it might help to do a little brushing up on these heroes before hitting the theater. That’s why we’ve put together this handy article to help you learn about the characters and movies leading up to this film and their end scene teasers. Here’s a guide to how The Incredible Hulk fits in.
The Incredible Hulk
Ok, yes there are two recent Hulk movies, but we’re going to pretend that 2003 Ang Lee “Hulk” doesn’t exist (Sorry, Eric Bana, but that movie sucked). Marvel reacquired the rights shortly after that “Hulk” movie received mixed reviews and in 2008, they released a rebooted version, “The Incredible Hulk,” with an updated back story that better set up this character to tie-in to “The Avengers.” This time, Ed Norton would take on the role (Norton is the only one not to reprise his character for “The Avengers” film – Mark Ruffalo takes over for the upcoming film). This movie skips past the genesis story a bit more than the other superhero films do, but for the unfamiliar, Bruce Banner (Norton) is a scientist who was researching gamma radiation. In an experiment that went terribly awry, Banner Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde-d himself. The timid Dr. Banner (Jekyll) suffers from poor anger management, and post-experiment, his anger turns him into a massive green punching machine: The Hulk (Mr. Hyde). While Banner is a smart, but timid man, his alter ego is a being based solely on emotion – the brains just aren’t there, which is why you have the 2-year-old speak dialogue “Hulk smash.” So though he’s a strong hero, he’s also a very loose cannon and not dependable – he’s just as likely to take out the good guys as he is the bad guys. The one thing that keeps the Hulk in check is Banner/The Hulk’s love for Betty (Liv Tyler). Nonetheless, Banner finds his alter ego too unsafe for his regular life, so when this movie first hones on him, we learn that he has isolated himself South America and is working on meditation and flying under the radar. Unfortunately for our reluctant hero, the government (and specifically his love interest’s father, General Ross) still have a great interest in finding and controlling his alter ego. So when his contaminated blood falls into a bottle that gets an American sick, the government discovers his location and begins to hunt him down. Meanwhile, another scientist has been working on a cure for Banner to get rid of the Hulk. But one of the government guys, Blonsky, discovers this and since he covets the Hulk’s power he forces the scientist to use the cure in reverse on him – he turns into a villainous super beast that only the Hulk can take out. In a twist of fate, General Ross finds himself in a reverse position – he no longer is hunting the Hulk, but trying to help him save the day. At the end of the film, we still have our Banner/Hulk, but he disappears back into hiding at remote location, doing his best not to Hulk out and smash up anything else.
Uniform: Pants? Being green? There isn’t exactly a uniform for this guy. When this character is regular ole Bruce Banner, he tends to wear a loose white shirt and khakis. When he hulks out, he turns all muscular and green. For our modest viewing audience, he does keep tattered pants on covering his naughty hulk bits, but everything else – shoes, shirt, etc gets ripped off.
Key Powers: Ridiculous strong in Hulk form. As a human, he’s pretty weak, but he’s a super genius.
Weaknesses: Banner’s emotions -whether anger or his weak spot for his lady scientist friend, his emotions are the easiest way to push his buttons and manipulate him. Also, his human form is generally pretty weak. As Hulk, though virtually unstoppable, he’s not the brightest of superheroes. You’re lucky if he smashes the enemy and not you, so he’s not very dependable.
The Avengers Tie-ins (this is not definitive, but shares some key notes): “The Incredible Hulk” has quite a bit of tie-in to the “Iron Man” films. While many of these cross film references are a bit more subtle or hidden away in credits, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) makes a small appearance toward the end of this film to discuss “The Avengers” project with Bruce Banner – these references also indicate that the Hulk film is sometime between the two Iron Man movies. In “Iron Man 2,” we see some footage in a background news story that shows the aftermath of a Hulk rampage. “The Incredible Hulk” also has quite a bit of crossover with the “Captain America” film. We learn that the whole reason that the government and banner were researching the formula that created the Hulk was because they were trying to recreate the original super soldier serum – the very serum that made Captain America. In a deleted scene, Captain America’s frozen body can be glimpsed (this also indicates that this film is set shortly before the epilogue of the “Captain America” movie when that character joins the modern day.
Stan Lee Appearance: This is a little Easter Egg in many of the Marvel movies. Stan Lee, a primary creator of many of these characters in the Marvel-verse, likes to make little cameos in the films. In “The Incredible Hulk,” Banner cuts his finger at the bottling factory he is working at during the start of the film. His contaminated blood is consumed by a U.S. citizen, played by Stan Lee. This person falls ill, giving away to the military where Banner’s position is in South America.
Sequel Alert: Not currently anticipated (but hey, they already had 2 tries to make this movie in the last decade).
Watch the Trailer:
Watch the Hidden Credits Scene/Avengers Teaser: (We couldn’t find the Incredible Hulk’s scene by itself, so this sequence includes the other movies as well. To watch just the scene from the Hulk film, jump ahead 38 seconds.)
*Black Widow and Hawkeye, while a part of the Avengers team, do not currently have their own movies.