The second I heard that Marvel was going to more or less
ignore Ang Lee’s Hulk I was upset. When I read press interviews and noticed
the new film’s creators and producers were either making fun of Lee’s film or
pretending it didn’t exist, I got a little angry. It wasn’t just that this was
sort of an insult to Lee, and the few of us that actually liked the film, it
was also blatantly unprofessional. Even the late in the game involvement of Ed
Norton didn’t sway my opinion or simmering fury towards this film…I
hadn’t…actually…seen yet.

My God. I wanted to hate this film. I was fully prepared to make
up reasons to hate it. I was concocting negative criticism based on the
trailer. What the fuck? Why do I care so much? I like the Ang Lee film a lot, more then
even Richard Donner’s Superman films, but it’s not like it’s part of my top ten or even 100. What
is it about Hulk that fills me with so much righteous indignation? I usually
love it when I feel like I ‘got’ something that other people didn’t, and normally I revel in being the guy who revels in the pop culture that pop culture
rejects. Here I’m acting like those ‘flame-on’ fanboys that pay to see the Star Wars
prequels opening night with the sole intent of pissing and moaning about them the next day. Even worse, I’m acting
like those steel-trap-minded zealots that cry out for the banning of films they haven’t
seen yet, because they heard from their pastor that it might jive with their religious beliefs.

I was going to simply not see the film, which seemed like
the best way to deal with my bizarre crisis of conscious, until Universal
Studios stepped in and sent me the Incredible Hulk television series to review
(without me asking). Inside were two free tickets to the new movie. Shit, I
can’t turn a free movie down.

To better prepare for my free movie going experience I
decided to watch the Ang Lee film one more time. The film still entices me.
Even detractors have to give Lee credit for doing something different with the
medium. The paneling and split screen techniques are just as playful and perfect
five years later. Lee’s mix of intellectual plotting and brazenly cartoony and
abstract visuals still works wonderfully for me. And there’s also a touch of
Mario Bava’s gothic horror, which is very classy and in keeping with Stan Lee’s
original Jekyll and Hyde meets Frankenstein concept. Five years later the film still looks and acts differently then just about
every other big budget super hero flick out there, though mostly because so
many people remember hating it.

Come on, unstoppable CG muscle man, meets Freud, meets Bava
and Corman, meets Hitchcock, meets comic books and cartoons, meets genuine art
film aspirations? Why didn’t the geek community embrace this film? And those
claims of not enough action? There’s huge action in this film.

So then I saw the new movie. It’s pretty good, but it’s so
safe, so I think I’m safe in saying it’s ultimately lessinteresting then Lee’s film. However, I was finally
able to get over my prepared hatred of the film’s very existence, and that’s
what this is about. The existence of the new film does have something to do
with the relative failure of the 2003 film, but it works as a sequel on most
levels, actually, and works as a stand alone. The most important thing is that
it continues Marvel’s exciting Avengers set-up, which is likely going to be
more interesting in theory then execution, but is still an exciting prospect. The
only people who should bother preemptively hating movies are Nathan Forrest
Winters and his family every time a new Victor Salva film is released.

I feel like a bigger man today.