When you think of heroes that people can come up with there’s a handful of names that they can come up with. All your usual top tier heroes like Batman, Superman and Captain America. Most people will then come up with The Hulk. Hulk’s one of the longer running comic series, basically running from 1964 until today. He’s also one of the few heroes to get his own television series and this was before superheroes were the most popular thing out there.
So why can’t they make a good movie about him?
Hulk makes a good secondary character. Never the main player but if Iron Man and Cap are 1A and 1B, Hulk is 2B usually. His alternative identity of Bruce Banner is useful in his own way and then of course the big guy does what he does but when he’s the primary focus.
The best of the two Hulk movies according to IMDB ratings is the Edward Norton version which got a 6.8 rating. The Eric Bana version doesn’t even break a 6, coming in with 5.8 score. The lack of talent isn’t the problem. Norton has been nominated for three Academy Awards and if you don’t think Bana can act you should go watch Munich. Also, the Bana version was directed by Academy Award winner Ang Lee. Now you’ve got Mark Ruffalo taking the role and he’s arguably the best actor of the three of them.
Think back to all the Iron Man, Batman, and Spider-man movies and really all the other super hero/comic book movies there are. Each one of these heroes has their secret identity to help move the plot along and then when they become their hero personas… they can still move the plot along. In every single one of those movies the protagonist and antagonist are talking with their team or bantering with each other. They can express fear, anguish and confusion by using their words.
It’s hard to express emotion when you’re a giant green rage monster.
So if the plot needs to be moved along and yes, sadly it does, you need to have Bruce Banner on screen but he’s only interesting for so long. We don’t go to the theaters to see Banner wax poetic about his shitty lifestyle. We want to see the Hulk wreck some shit.
That’s why the Hulk works so well in the Avengers and in the comics. With the Avengers movies you have the five other main characters to do the talking. In the comics there can be narration or a splicing of scenes with Banner giving an explanation. When you don’t have either of those things it doesn’t work quite right.
At some point the Bruce Banner persona tends to become aware in the Hulk’s body and takes control to an extent. If the movies could extend him to that point it might actually make for a great movie as the two minds fight to exert themselves over one another. However you can’t jump right into that because anyone who isn’t a learned comics fan would be confused beyond all belief.
It’s bound to happen some day though. We have to get a good Hulk movie at some point. There’s already rumors that he’s going to show up in the next Thor movie which will lead to a stand-alone Hulk movie. Who knows? Maybe the third time will be the charm.