The Incredible Hulk is a 2008 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character the Hulk. It is directed by Louis Leterrier and stars Edward Norton as Dr. Bruce Banner. It is the second film to be released in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is not a sequel to the 2003 film Hulk, but rather a reboot that establishes a new back-story where Banner became the Hulk as an unwitting pawn in a military scheme to reinvigorate the supersoldier program through gamma radiation. On the run, he attempts to cure himself of the Hulk before he is captured by General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt), but his worst fears are realized when power-hungry soldier Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) becomes a similar but more bestial creature. Liv Tyler also stars as Betty Ross, Banner’s girlfriend and General Ross’ daughter.
Marvel Studios reacquired the rights to the character after the mixed reception to Hulk, and writer Zak Penn began work on a loose sequel that would be much closer to the comics and the television series. Norton rewrote the script after he signed on to star, which clarified the film’s new back-story. Leterrier redesigned Roth’s character, called the Abomination in the comics, from the comics’ reptilian humanoid into a monster with bony protrusions. Filming mostly took place in Toronto, Ontario in 2007, where the production attempted to be environmentally friendly.
During the opening credits sequence, General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt) meets with Dr. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton), the colleague and lover of his daughter Betty (Liv Tyler), regarding an experiment, Ross says, to make humans immune to gamma radiation. The experiment, which in truth involves a serum Ross hopes will create a “super soldier”, fails, transforming Banner into the Hulk (voiced by Lou Ferrigno) whenever Banner becomes angry. As the Hulk, he destroys the lab and injures Betty. Afterwards, he flees, becoming a fugitive from the United States Army.
Five years later, Banner works at a bottling factory in Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro, while searching for a cure for his condition. On the Internet, he collaborates with a colleague he knows only as “Mr. Blue”, and to whom he is “Mr. Green”. He is also learning meditative breathing techniques from a martial arts expert (Rickson Gracie) to help keep control, and has not transformed in 158 days. After Banner cuts his finger, a drop of his blood falls into a bottle, and is eventually ingested by a consumer (Stan Lee) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, creating medical complications. Using the bottle to trace Banner’s location, Ross sends a team, led by British Royal Marine Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) to capture him. Banner transforms into the Hulk and defeats Blonsky’s team. After Ross explains how Banner became the Hulk, Blonsky agrees to be injected with a small amount of the same serum, which gives him enhanced physical attributes and the side effect of making him arrogant and overconfident.
Banner returns to Culver University in Virginia, where he first became the Hulk, and reunites with Betty, who is dating psychiatrist Leonard Samson (Ty Burrell). Banner is attacked by Ross and Blonsky’s forces, tipped off by the suspicious Samson. The Hulk dispatches Ross and Blonsky’s team and flees with Betty. After the Hulk reverts to Banner, he and Betty go on the run. Banner makes contact with Mr. Blue, who urges them to meet him in New York City. He turns out to be cellular biologist Dr. Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson), who tells Banner he has developed a possible antidote to Banner’s condition. After a successful test, though he warns Banner that the antidote may only reverse each individual transformation, Sterns reveals he has synthesized Banner’s blood samples, which Banner sent from Brazil, into a large supply, with the intention of using it to bring humans to the next evolutionary level. Appalled by what Sterns has done, and fearful of the Hulk’s power falling into the wrong hands, Banner attempts to convince Sterns to destroy the blood supply. Ross’ forces attack and take Banner into custody with Betty.
Blonsky forces Sterns to inject him with Banner’s blood, as he covets the Hulk’s power. Sterns warns that the combination of the super-soldier formula and a gamma treatment may turn him into an “abomination”. Unconcerned, Blonsky forces Sterns to administer the gamma charge. The experiment goes wrong and Blonsky mutates into a creature with strength surpassing that of the Hulk, but cannot change back. Blonsky rampages through Harlem to draw the Hulk out.
Realizing that the Hulk is the only one who can stop Blonsky, Banner convinces Ross to release him. He jumps from Ross’ helicopter as it hovers over the city, the adrenaline surge of the act transforming him into the Hulk. After a long and brutal battle through Harlem, the Hulk defeats Blonsky by choking him with a huge chain, relenting only after Betty’s plea. After having a small, peaceful moment with Betty, the Hulk flees. Thirty-one days later, Banner is in Bella Coola, British Columbia. Instead of trying to suppress his transformation, he is attempting to transform in a controlled manner. As his eyes turn green, a grin appears on his face.
In a short scene before the credits, while General Ross is drinking in a bar he is approached by industrialist Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), who reveals that a “team” is being formed.
Learn more about the concepts, principles and symbolism behind the subliminals found in this film: