Marvel Blog-a-thon Week 1: ‘Iron Man’ and ‘The Incredible Hulk’

the-avengers-hulk-and-ironman_156211First up on my Marvel Blog-a-thon project are “Iron Man” and “The Incredible Hulk,” the first two films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Interestingly, these are the only two MCU movies I didn’t watch in theaters (I guess I was late arriving to the party) 😉 and also the films at the top and bottom of my original ranking of favorite Marvel films. Did my thoughts on these films change after watching them again?

Iron Man (2008)

“Iron Man” has long been not just my favorite MCU film, but my favorite superhero film in general. It’s a perfect example of the winning Marvel formula: humor, heart and plenty of action. It’s just a fun, quality summer blockbuster. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but at the same time it isn’t too silly.

Although originally Robert Downey Jr. may have seemed like an unusual choice to head this franchise, he turned out to be the perfect fit as Iron Man/Tony Stark. He’s smart and snarky, and he cares more than he pretends to. Deep down, he recognizes some of the emptiness in his hard-partying, irresponsible lifestyle, but he still ignores the potential he’s wasting. His kidnapping by terrorists and narrow escape, thanks to the selfless sacrifice of a fellow prisoner, serves as a wake-up call, and he builds the Iron Man suit to right some of the wrongs he’s created.

Some films aren’t as good the second time you watch them, but “Iron Man” still seems fun every time I watch it. It’s got a great beginning, kicking off with Humvees driving through the desert to “Back in Black” from what’s become Iron Man’s signature band AC/DC, to my all-time favorite superhero ending, where Tony Stark ignores his assigned, already-prepared statement at a press conference and announces that “I am Iron Man.” I also like Robert Downey Jr.’s chemistry with Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts.

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

“The Incredible Hulk” doesn’t get quite as much praise as some of the other Marvel films. While I have enjoyed all the Marvel films and think there are some good features about each movie, this isn’t the strongest in the MCU franchise. As I watched it again, I tried to pinpoint exactly why I didn’t like it as much as the other MCU movies.

I think Edward Norton does a good job as Bruce Banner/the Hulk in this film. It’s a haunted performance, and also a somewhat tragic one, because unlike Iron Man, Thor or Captain America, Banner’s life arguably gets worse after becoming a superhero. His power — turning into a giant green monster every time he gets angry — forces him to live in isolation to avoid accidentally hurting the people he cares about. Norton was replaced by Mark Ruffalo in the Avengers films, and I think Ruffalo also plays the role well. Edward Norton was, I think, a better choice for the solo film, but Mark Ruffalo has better chemistry with the Avengers group as a whole, especially Robert Downey Jr., than Norton would have.

I also liked that the film handles the origin story in a creative way, breezing through the creation of Hulk during a montage in the opening credits. While the film doesn’t take full advantage of the time freed up by this storytelling technique, it was nice to see film makers try something different. I also liked the villain choice. Marvel is sometimes criticized for its underdeveloped or generic villains, but I thought it was interesting the “bad guys” were two men who didn’t start out trying to be evil: Banner’s girlfriend’s father, a U.S. general, and a British marine who is injected with strength-enhancing serum.

In the end, I think the Hulk tends to rate lower in Marvel fans’ rankings because it doesn’t have quite the same amount of Marvel magic as some of the other films. In this movie, it feels like Marvel is still setting up the tone and deciding what direction it wants to take these films. The Hulk movie doesn’t have as much humor as the other MCU films, and the humor that is in the script feels a bit forced. The script and film felt like they needed a little more time in development.

That being said, I think I was a little tough on “The Incredible Hulk” in my original ranking, and I think it will move up at least one spot on the revised list. Up next, “Iron Man 2” and “Thor”! I’d also love to hear your thoughts on these films, and what you think about the MCU as a whole.

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20 thoughts on “Marvel Blog-a-thon Week 1: ‘Iron Man’ and ‘The Incredible Hulk’

  1. Iron Man is my favorite of all the films. But, I actually haven’t seen The Incredible Hulk with Edward Norton. It’s on my Films to Catch Up On list. Good pairing of films for your first installment. And I think Ruffalo is fantastic as the Hulk in the Avengers films.

    • It’s hard to beat the original “Iron Man”; it was the first and is still one of the best. 🙂 I’d recommend giving “The Incredible Hulk” a watch, there was a fun Iron Man cameo in the movie I had forgotten about. Thanks for reading!

  2. I’m in the minority, but I like the Incredible Hulk a lot. Norton was great as Banner and the film’s formula is different than most of the others (mostly because Marvel hadn’t nailed it down yet but that’s nether here nor there). As much as I like Norton as Banner, Ruffalo was better for the Avengers for the exact reasons you said. Ruffalo has no problem letting others take the forefront while he hangs back whereas if Norton continued to play Banner he would have been competing for the spotlight.

    Iron Man is my go-to film for how to do a single hero origin movie right. I haven’t decided if I like that more of Guardians of the Galaxy more. 😛

    Great reviews!

    • “The Incredible Hulk” doesn’t always get a lot of love compared to the other Marvel films, but I think it’s still a fun superhero flick and worth watching as part of the MCU. I’m also having a hard time deciding whether Guardians or Iron Man is my favorite of the MCU. Captain America: Winter Soldier is in the running too. It’s a tough choice! 🙂

      • My friend and I were talking about this around the time Ant-Man was coming out and we decided The Incredible Hulk is often overlooked because it really didn’t affect any of the other movies and nothing came out of it. Banner is the only character seen outside of that particular movie and he went through an actor change, so that visual connection gets lost. With Ross being in Civil War, it’s finally spilling outside of its seven years long self-containment.

        Good, I’m glad I’m not the only one having a difficult time with that decision. 🙂

      • That’s an excellent point–it does stand on its own, and sadly sometimes is forgotten. I hadn’t heard Ross will be in Civil War, it will be interesting to see the character again.

  3. Great observations. I agree with you when you say that The Incredible Hulk did not have the same mood and humour that people love from Iron Man. I felt like a different universe altogether. Can’t wait for your next reviews!

    • “The Incredible Hulk” does feel different from the other MCU films; by the time Thor was released, they had nailed down the tone/direction for these movies. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

  4. I really like your description of Tony Stark. I’ve only seen Incredible Hulk one time, I didn’t mind it but I agree it didn’t have that Marvel Magic. I wouldn’t mind seeing it again because it’s been along time. Nice post.

  5. Here u go: let me put your Likes into double-figures, cos this Post sure deserves ’em.
    UK TV must show the original Iron Man movie every fortnight – am so well-acquainted w it.
    RD Jr really made th titular hero come alive, and – yes! – Back in Black rocks!
    Never bothered w th Hulk 2008 pic (still remember how dull th 2003 version was!)
    Looking forward to th next part of this enthralling Blogathon
    Cheers!

    • Why thank you, always appreciate you stopping by! 🙂 I have not seen the 2003 Hulk, but have heard it was not well received by fans. I’m getting ready to post the next installment in the blog-a-thon this afternoon!

  6. The Incredible Hulk is still my favorite MCU film. I loved everything about it. I hoped Ed Norton would join the Avengers cast but alas it was not to be.

    • The Incredible Hulk doesn’t always get a lot of love, which makes me sad, because it’s still a great part of the MCU. I’ve also always wondered what The Avengers would have been like with Ed Norton.

      • That disappointed me. I like Ruffalo but he’s not in the caliber of an Ed Norton. I would have enjoyed that but they’d already spent enough money on high-priced talent.

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