Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Incredible Hulk

Unless you've managed to totally dodge the marketing blitz lately, you are well aware that the opening of the new movie The Incredible Hulk happens this Friday. The Hulk is one of my absolute favorite comic book characters of all time, and it's an adoration that goes back literally as far as I can remember. Please step into the Wayback machine with me as we take a look at the original Hulkster's illustrious past.

Well, maybe not always illustrious. Here is the first appearance of the Hulk outside of comics, as a feature on the dreadfully animated Marvel Superheroes Hour. This episode is a faithful adaptation of his first appearance in Incredible Hulk #1 back in 1962.

Crappy theme song, isn't it? Here's something much better:

Now THAT'S what I'm talkin' about! The famous CBS TV series ran from 1978 to 1982 and starred TV veteran Bill Bixby (R.I.P) as tortured scientist David Banner and young bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno as his alter ego. This was, and is to this day, one of my favorite TV shows ever. Friday night at 8 was my weekly highlight during those years. I was devastated when it was cancelled.

Ah, but forward to 1988 or so, and NBC resurrects the Hulk for three reunion TV-movies. Here is a clip from the first, Return of the Incredible Hulk, guest starring another Marvel mainstay, the mighty Thor!

During the series' run, the set greeted a very special visitor--the one and only Mr. Rogers! The meeting was taped for an episode of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood--which I'm happy to feature right here. I've been looking for this forever, and now I've found it. The video quality is not great, but it's worth it to see this rare treat!

Right after the demise of the CBS series, NBC aired an animated version that went back to the source material of the comics. A good show, with better music than the atrocious 60s cartoon:

In the 90s, the UPN network (remember them?) aired yet another animated adaptation, more slick and mature (?) than previous versions. Great thing about this show: Lou Ferrigno was the voice of the Hulk--sweet! If you have digital cable TV, the Toon Disney channel will begin airing this version as part of its Jetix line of action cartoons beginning June 21st (check local listings). All I could find on the Web from this series was the intro to a foreign package:

In 2003, the first ever theatrical appearance of Hulk was released. Although this film was not critically praised nor well received at the box office, I feel the need to defend the movie. I was pleasantly surprised by it. It used a couple of plot points that I wouldn't have used if I were making the film, but I appreciated the film's style and its attempt to bring the comic book version of Hulk to life. I also liked the design of the Hulk, although most people I know disagree with me on that. Still, I recommend you give the film a chance and place it on your Netflix list. It's an underappreciated film.

If you have seen the first film and were disappointed, you might have like it better if it were more like this:

All of this of course brings us to the brand new film. I like what I've seen so far, although I wonder if William Hurt might not get General Ross's crustiness right (Sam Elliot was excellent as Ross in the 2003 movie).

In addition to the clips I've showcased here, I'll try to gather Hulk related sites in the next few days and post them this weekend. Until then, HULK SMASH!!

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