“I’ve got red in my ledger. Now I need to wipe it out”

And we’re back with our recurring feature titled RED LEDGER, where staff of MCUExchange convenes to say something nice and constructive about things in the MCU that people haven’t been necessarily kind to. Today, we’re all about the canonical step-child of the MCU, The Incredible Hulk.

I get it. The Incredible Hulk, aka the red-headed stepchild of Kevin Feige, isn’t quite up to par with many of the more current MCU films. However, quite a few golden nuggets go unnoticed for many people, fans included. For example, Emil Blonsky is quite an underrated villain. His motivation lies in wanting to revitalize his youth to be the best soldier possible. While Blonsky himself kind of goes away (visually) after becoming the Abomination, Tim Roth still gave a good performance while he was on screen. Edward Norton does no different, giving us a good spin on the Bruce Banner character that would’ve made the MCU a bit different, had he continued in the role. We also have some highlights of the film in characters such as Thunderbolt Ross and Samuel Sterns, the latter of which really should return to the films soon. overall, while the film is a tad out of place amongst the MCU film lineup, it is a solid film in its own right and should be seen as such. – Curtis Johnson, Feature Writer

One thing that has to be said about the Incredible Hulk is that it really tried to expand the universe quickly and in creative ways. As only the second installment in the MCU, it had the task of living up to its predecessor whilst also continuing to establish the fact that this is a larger universe. Of course, we get this in a very obvious way with Tony Stark making a brief cameo appearance at the end of the movie, but we actually get many other characters throughout that have a purpose within the story without allowing the film to become overstuffed, unlike Iron Man 2. The most crucial addition to the MCU and a character that has been well used since then is Thunderbolt Ross. The excellent portrayal by William Hurt was a great boost for the already loved character and one that made him useful as a government official heading into Civil War and beyond. The Abomination was also an interesting inclusion as the villain, with the potential for this monster to also be brought back even if he is not still portrayed by Tim Roth, instead of being a CGI creature similar to how Red Skull was recast.

The character inclusions don’t stop there though. Another potential return can be found in the Leader, whose origin we actually witness throughout the course of the film. It’s an interesting addition to know that he is out there somewhere plotting a nefarious scheme. Then comes Doc Samson who could one day still gain his superhero abilities; not to mention the surprise cameo of Amadeus Cho, although a future recast is highly likely here since Martin Starr has gone on to star in Homecoming. All of these inclusions, alongside more standard editions such as Betty Ross, look to expand the universe in some interesting ways, foreshadowing what could be to come in the MCU whilst still feeling part of the story. – George Chrysostomou, Feature Writer

Ahhh the Incredible Hulk! The film that most people look at as the red-headed stepchild of the MCU. Much of this comes from the obvious point that Edward Norton is in the role of our green giant, who would soon be replaced by Mark Ruffalo, but is the movie actually bad? In my opinion, no. As a comparison, we got a terrible Hulk movie only a couple years before this with Ang Lee’s monstrosity of a film. In contrast to that, this film does several things right. Instead of focusing on the origin, we dive into Banner being on the run in Brazil, throwing us into the action and really helping us to understand the character of Banner. This is not a retread of past stories, but something new and fresh. While not as beloved as Ruffalo, I feel that Norton did a great job in the role as did the rest of the cast. He brought his own flair to be sure, but also gravitas to the character that made him believable on film for the first time.

Similarly, Thunderbolt Ross is introduced here, and what makes me enjoy this movie so much more is the fact that Kevin Feige choose to acknowledge it by bringing Ross back in Civil War. While a lesser saga might have ignored this chapter until the end of time, the MCU made the brilliant decision to embrace it. Not only that, but the character of Bruce Banner is continued admirably well in Avengers from where we left off at the end of this film. His demeanor and character choices help us to believe the actor switch, which otherwise might have gone horribly. The action is good, the effects are well done, and the story chooses to keep itself grounded and small enough as to not lose itself. All in all, I suggest you go back and give it another watch. I think you’ll be happy you did. Also check out the comic tie-in series called Fury’s Big Week, which covers the events of this film, Ironman 2, and Thor from the perspective of Nick Fury, Black Widow, and others. It interconnects these films in such an incredible way! – Kevin Carter, News Writer

I’m well aware that I’m in the minority, but I always liked The Incredible Hulk. When viewed in the grand scheme of the MCU, it is certainly one of the weaker points, but Edward Norton has always been my favorite Bruce Banner. While I know that Ruffalo is a better fit for the tone of the universe in its current state, he has always come off as too confident and comedic for me, especially in the more recent films. Norton’s awkwardness, calm demeanor, and meeker look are more appropriate for the character. There was also some great action in this movie. Hulk’s fight with Abomination remains my favorite Hulk sequence of any of the MCU movies. The carnage and destruction that Hulk and Abomination create in the streets of Harlem felt as real to me as any of the MCU’s subsequent battles, and both characters are outright terrifying. The Hulk is meant to be a scary character, and I think that, in particular, his facial expressions show that more than any of the Hulk portrayals we’ve seen since. Additionally, his primal roar at the sound of thunder in defense of Betty, which is pulled straight from the comics, tells us so much about the character’s mindset that we really haven’t seen much of since. All in all, this portrayal provided the deepest and most accurate look at both Bruce Banner and The Hulk that we’ve ever seen. The good news is all signs point to more of this in Avengers: End Game, which has been long overdue. – KJ Callahan, Feature Writer

The Incredible Hulk may not be among the best of the MCU, but that does not in any way mean it’s a bad movie. Not only did it introduce us to one of the universe’s most enigmatic characters, Thadeus Ross, but it also gave us a genuine romance between Bruce and Betty Ross. As fans, many of us still want closure on that relationship, despite knowing we might never get it. Fans also asked for General Ross’ return in Civil War, and so he did. If this was such a bad movie, no one would be still talking about it over ten years down the line.

It has action, romance, drama and even some MCU trademark comedy in it. Like it or not, this was the first time we saw Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark outside of an Iron Man movie, and that post-credits scene is still an iconic moment of pop culture in general. At that point, we all knew The Avengers was going to happen, but The Incredible Hulk was the first ever crossover of the MCU. That’s when most of us realized it was actually going to happen. 20 movies later, this movie is still an important part of the universe’s history, and for that, it should never be ignored. – Tiago Fiszbejn, News Writer

I have fond memories of watching The Incredible Hulk. One of the first Marvel films I have saw was the Ang Lee’s Hulk and I still remember being quite bored by it. So, finally seeing a good Hulk film got me excited especially when I realized it was connected to Iron Man. Even now, I quite like the film for the direction it took. The small nodes to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with the horror elements, in the beginning, hiding his true form. Avoiding the traditional origin story by throwing in quick flashes from the original TV show was a great touch. Also, as fantastic as Mark Ruffalo is as Bruce Banner, Edward Norton did bring something unique to the role that helped shape the current incarnation of the character. Then they throw in those comic-book nods like a tease for the Leader and we even get the famous thunderclap. Out of nowhere, they also threw in a tribute to the Dexter’s Laboratory episode ‘Hunger Strikes” with the “You wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry” line. So much care was put into the film and it really shows to this day. – Joseph Aberl, Editor

There’s something fascinating about the villainy of Emil Blonsky, who essentially becomes a villain out of a midlife crisis. He’s terrified of becoming a shadow of what he once was. He celebrates physical prowess over anything else and is in awe when he sees the Hulk in action for the first time. He becomes ironically disgusted when he sees Hulk for who he really is in Puny Banner. Blonsky is Gilmore Hodge, the same kind of bully Abraham Erskine feared for in Project Rebirth. Abomination is an all-time favorite villain for me which is why I will always look fondly at The Incredible Hulk. – Charles Villanueva, Editor-in-Chief