The Incredible Hulk came out this weekend and, for the most part, people seemed to enjoy it. At least to the tune of $55 million – which is less than the $62 million Ang Lee’s Hulk took in for it’s opening weekend 5 years ago. But considering how quickly that film dropped off in it’s second week, I think The Increidble Hulk will have legs by comparison.

If nothing else, it already has respect. I’ve received e-mails and comments from a few people who thought the Ang Lee film was better, which I can understand. The characterization and backstory is much more nuanced in that film and a little bit more satisfying from that stand point.

That said, I don’t share that perspective.

I always felt – as I suspect most Hulk fans feel – that if there was ANY property tailor made for the kind of high-level, mindless Michael Bay destruct-o-thon, it is the Hulk. And in that respect Louis Leterrier’s Incredible Hulk does not dissapoint.

I enjoyed this movie a lot. I thought Edward Norton was a much more believable Bruce Banner than Eric Bana. I always thought Bana was much too beefy for the role. Norton easily brings that reedy braniac quality to things by default. William Hurt was a little over the top, but enjoyable, as General Thunderbolt Ross and Liv Tyler as Betty Ross barely registered. Any excuse to put Tim Roth into a movie I’ll sign on for, but he looked a little out of place as Emil Blonsky and I thought he was a little transparent in his portrayal of Blonsky as an out of control junkie, but whatever. Admit that you’re not watching these movies for the performances. You want to see the Hulk break stuff!

The good news is that unlike Ang Lee’s film, the Hulk shows up early. But Leterrier doesn’t give everything up right away. He keeps the Hulk in shadows and fog. You don’t see him directly, but you see what his power is capable of and that’s almost as scary.

A second confrontation with the Hulk on a college campus is much more furious and terrifying as the army brings wave after wave of weapons to trying and subdue him. The sonic cannons I thought were particularly inventive and visually interesting.

By the third act when Blonsky is turned into the semi-nude four ton exoskeleton with attitude – The Abomination – the gloves are off. Well, except for the police car the Hulk tears in half and makes boxing gloves out of. A fantastic nod to the videogame Hulk: Ultimate Destruction.

As savage and exciting as the final battle is, it’s not quite as satisfying as the fight on the college campus. It’s fun to watch the Hulk cut loose, but he’s pretty much evenly matched, so it’s like a couple of gorillas beating on each other with no real conseqences.

I’m also not impressed that they chose to stage the fight at night because Leterrier could hide a lot of the action in shadows and it became a little frustrating to watch. Some oddly placed camera angles too close to the action and it gets to be a little too much to handle. The immediate comparison I made was to the battle sequences in last year’s Transformers, which ended up playing out much better on the small screen when the movie was released to DVD. Let’s hope the same holds true here.

These are nit-picky complaints. I would never suggest to anyone that they skip this movie. Go see it. You’ll have a blast. If you’re already a fan of the Hulk (or a comic book geek in general), you love all the little nods and references to past iterations of the character and the Marvel universe as a whole. You can tell that Marvel has taken great care to create a sense of an overlapping universe, similar to what you experience in the comics.

And because I’m sure you’re curious about my take on the matter… there’s the BIG CAMEO from Robert Downey Jr. at the end of the film as Tony Stark. Did I like it? Well, yeah. It’s friggin’ Iron Man, people! But I almost wonder if it would have be better as an extra scene after the credits. As it is, it feels a little tacked on. Banner makes his escape into the Canadian wilderness, meditates and tries to control the Hulk. His eyes flash green and a smile crosses his face. The movie should have ended there. It was a perfect punctuation mark to the film.

But immediately after, we’re taken to a bar where Thunderbolt Ross is pounding down drinks before Tony Stark walks in and hints at a team they’re “putting together.” I think people would have geeked out more if the scene were shown after the credits. Instead, the movie ends and people asked “What’s next?” A lot of them – myself included – stuck around after the credit to see if there would be another sequence. There wasn’t one. So that’s my tip to you – “DON’T stick around after the credits.”

As far as the comic is concerned, I’ve read a lot of online chatter about the merits of The Incredible Hulk versus Iron Man and I think it’s pointless. And not just because I’m heavily biased.

I don’t understand the purpose of comparing one comic book movie to another. I mean, I do – because that’s what comic book geeks do. But you never see this anywhere else in film. People don’t do this with dramas or comedies or any other genre. You don’t read pages and pages of debate weighing whether No Country For Old Men is better than Sweeny Todd, y’know?

Oh, well. It is what it is.

Be sure to tune in to The Triple Feature tonight at 9:00 PM CST where we will be sure to talk about The Incredible Hulk as well as M. Knight Shyamalan’s The Happening. If you want to contribute your two cents, be sure to call in LIVE

See you then!

↓ Transcript
So, did you see The Incredible Hulk this weekend?

What did you think: better or worse than Iron Man?

Geeze, you're like the twentieth person to ask me that!

Who cares if The Incredible Hulk is better than Iron Man?

Just because they're both comic book movies doesn't mean they're in competition with each other!

But, Jared - this is what comic book nerds DO.

We compare our favorite characters and have asinine "what if..." conversations about them!

It's all part of the fun!

...but if you say Hulk is better than Iron Man, I'll punch you in the neck!