Hulk VS Hulk

Posted on 17th June 2008 by Ryan Somma in Mediaphilism

MTV’s Kurt Loder refers to the Ang Lee’s film as “too thoughtful,” which is a bad thing for reasons I and Roger Ebert can’t understand. There are two kinds of Hulk fans. There are those who enjoy the dramatic conflict between an alienated egghead scientist and his raging psychopathic alter ego, and then there are those who just like to see a big green monster smash things.

Hulk The End

Hulk The End

I’m of the former club of fanboys (a miniscule club, I know). My favorite Hulk comics are those with Hard SF themes and speculative storytelling. One of my favorite Hulk comics was a What if..? issue involving the Hulk stranded on a distant planet, leaving Dr. Bruce Banner as his only remaining nemesis. They take turns writing taunts in the dirt to frustrate one another while sabotaging each other’s efforts to live comfortably. Another favorite, titled The End, follows the Hulk as the last human on Earth after a nuclear war, with Dr. Banner begging the monster to let them die.

Leterrier’s 2008 Hulk movie is for the fanboys who need another “explosion of violence” fix. I think there was a plot in there somewhere. It probably had something to do with Dr. Bruce Banner not being happy about turning into the Hulk, and trying to find a cure, but the explosions are what’s important.

There is no CGI powerful enough to make the big green hairless giant look even remotely real, and Leterrier seem oblivious to this fact, opting to place the Hulk in a gritty, real-world setting. Ang Lee recognized the toy-like appearance of his Hulk and crafted a movie style to match its main character. Ang Lee’s Hulk is filled with pastels, scenes cut into comic book panels, and comic book storytelling.

Hulk VS Hulk

Leterrier’s Hulk (top)
Ang Lee’s Hulk (bottom)

Ang Lee’s Hulk doesn’t kill anyone. In fact, Ang Lee’s Hulk goes to great pains not to kill anyone. Even when they are blasting bullets, explosive shells, and missiles at him, Lee’s Hulk retains just enough of the human being inside to restrain himself from annihilating his persecutors, as easy as that would be for him.

Lots and lots of people die because of Louis Leterrier’s Hulk, which raises a serious ethical issue for Edward Norton’s version of Bruce Banner. Doesn’t he have a moral obligation to euthanize himself? Instead of selfishly trying to find a cure, a bullet to the head would solve everyone’s problems (Although this would not work in the comic).

Leterrier’s ending is the more epic on an action-packed special-effects scale, while Ang Lee’s ending is more epic on a mythological scale. The battle between Lee’s Hulk and the elemental force his father has become rages across the sky, earth, and into the dark depths. The battle between Leterrier’s Hulk and Abomination is just a street fight.

Leterrier’s Hulk wins a few brownie points for putting the Environmental Media Association’s Green Seal in its credits, but the fans of his Hulk won’t care. Only Ang Lee’s fans would appreciate such a “thoughtful” gesture.


  1. Hmm… Do you know which “What If?” it was? I have.. uh… scanned most of my comic books in for backup purposes so it would be very easy to check those out.

    Comment by ClintJCL — June 17, 2008 @ 5:52 pm

  2. wait.. there are TWO hulk movies? IMDB links might clarify that.

    Comment by ClintJCL — June 17, 2008 @ 5:54 pm

  3. Err, possible spoilers.

    Pfft. I honestly fell asleep during the first movie. The ending was out of place, with some villain that never existed as far as I can in the Hulk Comics. (M)

    Not to mention the final fight at the ending was pretty impossible to figure out.

    As for the new and improved Hulk, I must say it is new and improved. Unfortunately due to disputes over contracts and stuff, with writing and ed norton, a lot of stuff had to get cut. IE, the scene where Hulk goes to the Arctic to try and kill himself. The character in this film obviously knows that he is a threat, so he distances himself from all of those whom he loves and tries his best to calm his anger/pulse etc. No one wants to kill themselves, if you were in that situation, im sure you would rather try finding a cure too.

    As for the hulk looking real. Erm, as far as I can tell. He isn’t suppose to. He is a super strong radiation and gamma infused man with exploding biceps and muscles that should make him out of place. Im sure if I saw that in person, it probably would look something similar to either of the Hulks presented.

    The Incredible Hulk >> Hulk.

    Comment by DJ Nicko — June 17, 2008 @ 7:30 pm

  4. so it’s a bitwise shift to the right?

    Comment by ClintJCL — June 17, 2008 @ 8:33 pm

  5. Um.

    Comment by DJ Nicko — June 17, 2008 @ 9:06 pm

  6. The What if..? was actually the most recent. It was a “What if the Hulk had gone to the planet the illumnati intended for him?” instead of crash landing on the world where Planet Hulk takes place. Being me, I ended up giving my Planet Hulk graphic novel away, but have kept and reread the What if…?

    DJ Nicko,

    Like I said, I know I’m in the minority on this one, but I had to vent. I was wondering about the missing Arctic scene, because it was in the trailer. The ending of the new Hulk irritated me because it should have ended with Norton, and the Downey Jr cameo should have come after the credits. I bet Norton’s contributions would have made me appreciate it more. Hopefully there’ll be a “Edward Norton Cut” of the film on DVD. : )

    Comment by ideonexus — June 17, 2008 @ 10:14 pm

  7. I think based off the fan response, there definitely will be!

    I cant remember how much was actually taken out, whether it was 26 minutes, or 70some.

    Comment by DJ Nicko — June 17, 2008 @ 10:29 pm

  8. I agree with you, Ryan; I much preferred the Ang Lee version despite its cheesy ending and some other strangeness. It has a lot more character development. Intense action is great, but without some kind of emotional connection, it rings hollow (unless intense action is enough of an emotion by itself to sustain you).

    Liv Tyler’s performance in the new Hulk movie really got on my nerves. I got tired of her unconvincingly spitting out her lines in that throaty voice of hers.

    It started out well but descended rapidly into generic action drivel. “Oh great; ANOTHER scene where Hulk tries to evade the military.” *Yawn*. It could have been so much better. Oh well, it was kind of fun watching HULK SMASH!! And Tim Roth was a cool villain.

    Comment by Dave — June 18, 2008 @ 4:19 pm

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