Hulk (2003) – Nostalgia Critic

Before he was everyone’s favorite smashing machine, Hulk had a strangely rocky start. Nostalgia Critic takes a look at this awkward misfire.

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About Doug Walker

Creator of 5 Second Movies, Nostalgia Critic, Bum Reviews and more.

135 comments

  1. The Incredible Hulk TV show sucks on toast. WHY MAKE A COMIC BOOK ADAPTATION OF SOMEONE WITH SUPER STRENGTH IF YOU’RE GONNA HAVE HIM PUNCH ANYONE?!!

    • Mitchell Martinez

      You do know that the Hulk would KILL anyone he punched, right? You really think they would have shown something like THAT on late 70s TV? And it’s not like he never did anything cool with his strength. Hell, there was an episode where he fought a bear, and they used an actual bear for some of that scene. Heck, if we’re talking about comic shows that had no punches thrown, what about “Spider-Man The animated series”? Great and classic show, yet the network sensors made it so he almost never threw an actual punch.

      If you going to rant about something, at least know what you’re talking about.

      • Well…that’s why you have SUPER VILLAINS in COMIC BOOK adaptations. That’s why you have super villains in comic books. Why would someone watch a show about a superhero without and super villains to fight?

        • Mitchell Martinez

          I don’t know. Ask all the people who watched “Adventures of Superman”. This was decades ago, man. Hollywood was still trying to figure out how to do superheroes in non-animated ways. Hell, take a look back at other adaptations from the 80s and further back. Tell me if you see a difference in quality from back then and today.

          • Yes, well I live in TODAY. And today I got shows like The Flash, and Arrow, and Daredevil, and Agents of SHIELD, and Kamen Rider, and Legends of Tomorrow. I know I don’t have the same tastes as every last person on the planet, but how hard would it have been to find another bodybuilder, pain him green, slap some fish ears on him, call him Abomination, and stick him in at least a couple episodes? I have a hard time believing that professional TV writers couldn’t figure out a fight scene with two super jacked guys.

          • Because of costs, TV budgets were very low compared to today, especially if it was a superhero TV show, since a majority of people back then thought that comic book characters were only for kids.
            So no they couldn’t get a super villain, because making a live action Hulk would have already ate up the low budget.

          • Also, the Incredible Hulk TV show focused on “David” Banner’s inner demons and conflicts. It was an action show, but it’s core was a little more dramatic.

          • And clearly, the more logical option was to use that budget to have the Hulk land a plane.

          • Hate to break this to you, but the Flash is pretty campy and kinda crap.

            Mediocre acting, bad special effects, repetitive character arcs and inconsistent motivations…it’s fun I suppose, but nothing impressive when compared to other comic book shows of this era like The Walking Dead or American Gods.

          • That is YOUR opinion. MY opinion is that it is better than The Incredible Hulk and damn it if I ever get tired of seeing the many characters of Harrison Wells. I would also like to point out that frigging Star Trek had enough of a budget to make its own Gorn costume and paint MULTIPLE people green. How much would it have really cost to insert another gamma mutant to fight the Hulk?

          • The Real Silverstar

            Whine some more about this 40-year-old TV show, guy. It’s really entertaining.

          • Not whining. Explaining an opinion. Difference. You can’t even say it’s in the tone because this is text and thus does not portray a specific tone.

          • The Real Silverstar

            “You can’t even say it’s in the tone”

            Sure I can. “It’s in the tone”. There, I just ‘said’ it. Check and mate, bro-bro.

            But seriously, would the course of human history seriously have really been altered so dramatically if CBS had depicted Lou Ferigno fighting some jacked up dude in Abomination makeup sometime between 1978 and 1982? Yeeeah, I’m thinking not.

          • TragicGuineaPig

            To which I would say, so what if they were still in the process of figuring these things out? That doesn’t make them better because they hadn’t yet. Shows like The Hulk at the very least needed credible threats to challenge them.

            I watched The Hulk as a kid, and I have to say, most of the episodes are a blur. I vaguely remember one where there was a guy in a Bigfoot costume (And how disappointing is that? Why not have the Hulk duke it out with a REAL Sasquatch?), one that was based on The Most Dangerous Game, and one where he got married again to another scientist who tried to help him find a cure. (And let’s not talk about the Marvel Backdoor Pilots that came in the 80s; I didn’t see them, so they don’t count).

            But other than that, the plots were all pretty much identical: Bruce… I mean, David… ends up someplace where things aren’t going well. David tries to deal with the situation without getting angry. Things get really bad – maybe the bad guys take over the town, or the mine collapses, or the kid gets trapped in a well – David gets mad, hulks out, and saves the day while causing massive property damage. Then he quietly and quickly slips out of town before the reporter shows up. End with him hitchhiking on to the next adventure. Later, rinse, repeat.

    • For it’s time, the Incredible Hulk TV show was pretty decent.

      Bill Bixby always gave a solid performance as a man in constant conflict with himself, and damn it if Lou Ferrigno isn’t a beast, his movements and the camera work give him weight and scale that’s pretty impressive for the pre-computer era.

      While it’s obviously very dated, it’s rarely if ever cringe-worthy.

    • it doesn’t matter if you live in today, you need to understand that it was a different time, there is no point in saying that the show sucks just becuz it doesn’t have super villains. super villains aren’t the only things important to comics or superheros you sound like a whiny lil teenager that doesn’t understand the point of a story

      • That depends on what you mean by “the point of a story.” There is no single point to every story. The point of a story could be to entertain, to teach a lesson, to sell merchandise, to raise awareness, to get out of trouble, to inform someone of your motives, to threaten, etc. The point of The Incredible Hulk’s stories seem to just be “woe to David Banner because he doesn’t belong anywhere and you will feel sorry for him.” I found it boring and not entertaining. If you like it, fine, I don’t care. I do not like it, and saying “it was made in the 70’s” will not magically change my mind. Not everything ages like wine.

  2. Hoo boy, this film…critics loved it, audiences didn’t, and Nick Nolte literally chews the scenery. Personally, while I don’t think it’s terrible, I do prefer The Incredible Hulk (2009) more.

    • Mitchell Martinez

      There a handful of scenes that I like in this film, but as a whole, I agree that Incredible Hulk is SO MUCH BETTER. At the very least though, I think we can all agree that this movie gave us an awesome video game follow up.

      • I think it goes without saying that Nick Nolte was the definite highlight of the film.

        According to the novelization [described by someone on an old forum], the final battle would have originally ended with ‘Attack of the 500ft Nick Nolte” instead of him turning into that weird “gamma radiation memory bubble thing”~

        ‘Near the end of their fight David Banner returns to his human form, and with the slow absorption of hulk’s power he is almost as tall as the hulk. Hulk throws a large block of stone at David, causing David to instantly turn to stone. Hulk pounds him again and again, until David is pretty much nothing but pebbles on top of the hulk. But here again David absorbs more of the hulks energy and reforms into his human form, and is now as tall as the Hulk. Hulk then grabs him and they end up fighting into the lake, where the more familiar part of the movie steps in with the lake freezing.

        After his acceptance the hulk is literally absorbed into David, and with this new raw power David grows and grows until he is towering over the surrounding mountains. He spots the two fighter jets from far away and laughs at their miniscule attempt, his laughter resounding like thunder. But then he notices something happening within his body; it is suddenly expanding outward. As the book explains it, the chemical imbalance of the hulk within David’s body causes David’s body to uncontrollably seek more energy, and since David is now THE greatest source of energy around it is unexpectedly trying to devour itself. David stumbles to the top of the mountain and attempts to control this action, but the energy the hulk gave David is so much that his body continues to grow and grow, David losing more control of the process by the second. This is when the missile is fired, and just as it is about to hit David he inexplicably grins at the thought of having more energy to absorb, but then he realizes it’ll be too much. It is indeed as the missile hits and David explodes and is finished.’

        Now THAT would have been awesome.

  3. Oh hai, everyone!!
    I’m here to tell you about Mr. Franco’s film about me.
    I did not star in this film. It’s not true. IT’S BULLSHIT!! I did not star in it. I DID NAAIIT!! oh hai, Mark.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rir1WzZqwxE

  4. DULL SURPRISE THE MOVIE!

  5. Aw man. I actually really like this movie. I always felt it was under appreciated. If nothing else you have to admit it’s unique by the standards of the genre. It’s especially fascinating if you look at it through the lens that the Hulk is a metaphor for mental illness.

    • Considering critics liked it I wouldn’t call it underappreciated, the action scenes were decent, but everything else was pretty weak.

    • It was unique, but it did not represent Hulk in an interesting way. Even with that metaphor in mind, the movie does not present that aspect well, maybe because it wasn’t what the director was going for.

      • Mitchell Martinez

        As Honest Trailers once said, this is probably the best compliment one can give the movie, “Wow, it’s just like reading comic book. A terrible, boring comic book.”

  6. I mean, I don’t think this is The Dark Knight or anything (it’s really not), but what I will say is that it actually has the spirit of a monster movie, something completely missing from the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s solo film. The good movie out of The Hulk is probably somewhere between the two attempts so far.

    • Marvel’s films felt like a proper Hulk adaption, this feels nothing like it.

    • Please don’t compare superhero movies to The Dark Knight. It was a magnificent piece of work, but it has some big flaws regarding the main character, so I wouldn’t want to see any superhero movie try to be like that one.

      • Mitchell Martinez

        Personally, I think the best way to describe the Dark Knight is “A very decent crime drama that just happened to have Batman characters in it.” Now Batman Begins, THAT was a Batman movie through and through.

  7. TragicGuineaPig

    Shouldn’t that Nolte guy be helping Wesley Snipes kill bampires? Or are we just supposed to understand that OOOH, HE HATES THAT RABBIT!

  8. To be 100% fair the reason for there being no solo movies planned for the future is that another studio (not Disney/Marvel) controls the rights to The Hulk solo movies. Disney/Marvel can use him “team-up” or other characters movies but not his own. For this to happen a deal would have to be worked out between Disney/Marvel and the rights holders of Hulk (similar to what was done for Spidey with Sony) but the rights and talk between the two studios is a lot more complicated and slippery. So it’s nothing to do with not being able to *do* a Hulk movie it’s that there’s no reason to. Marvel can’t do it because they don’t have that much control over the character, and the other studio (Universal, I believe, but not sure and can’t be arsed to look it up right now) can’t do it because there’s nothing in it for them with the failure of the Ang Lee Hulk. (The Norton one I believe was a instance of Marvel and the rights holders being able to work something out, but things changed since then.) They can’t use the Disney/Marvel version since D/M controls that version and they can’t make their own version because that’d confuse audiences.

    • Mitchell Martinez

      You know, lately I’ve been wondering about this. Just what will it take to get the rights with Universal to expire?

    • Hey. With the state of being of Hollywood right now, I wouldn’t be surprised that they wanted to make a similar deal than FOX with Quicksilver, and have the Hulk incorporated in the Dark Universe.

      • If Fox have the rights to Quicksilver why was he in Avengers: Age of Ultron and how can Marvel/Disney not have the rights to Hulk if they were the last ones to use him.

        • Its complicated.
          Disney/Marvel and Fox made a deal, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch could be in “Age of Ultron”, on one condition. Disney/Marvel keep Scarlet Witch, while Fox keeps Quicksilver for future movies.
          Same with Hulk, Marvel and Universal made a deal, Hulk was only allowed one solo movie, the only way Marvel can use Hulk again is in crossover movies like Avengers and the new Thor movie, because it doesn’t violate Universal’s demands.

          • TragicGuineaPig

            Got to love that one HISHE where Magneto shows up and whoops all the Ultrons into a giant metal ball, and then says, “Those two are my children! And We’re Called MUTANTS!”

          • OK well could they, say make a solo-film about She Hulk and put him in it.

        • The Hulk is able to appear in movies that aren’t solely about him because Universal’s distribution rights only covers movies entirely about him, not movies that just happen to have him in it.

  9. You know what’s annoying? Trying to watch this video with a secondary advertisement video playing over it that you seem unable to prevent.

    • That’s what Adblock is for.

      • Mitchell Martinez

        Yeah, if you want websites like this to disappear from lack of funds.

        • TragicGuineaPig

          Simple: you use the AdBlock to block the ads, then donate or contribute to Patreon. Plus, I’m sure Doug wouldn’t mind if you donated that to his charities.

          And if that’s not an option, just use the AdBlock to watch the video in peace, and then play it in another browser on Mute so that the ads will play but not disrupt your watching.

      • I don’t use AdBlock, myself. Ads are indeed annoying, but producers need that income to keep making content. I’d rather put up with the ads than have to pay to watch videos out of my own wallet.

        • If there’s really no way to stop the ads from playing over the videos on the site, you could download the videos and watch them offline.

        • TragicGuineaPig

          Again, my “donate/Patreon” idea, or play in another browser on mute.

          • I agree in principle, but I’m not set up for Patreon or donations (I don’t own a credit card).
            For me, it isn’t competing videos that tempt me so much to turn the adblocker on on Channel Awesome (*tempt*; I still keep it switched off), it’s that they let Taboola advertise with them.

  10. This film is a little too cerebral for it’s own good. Not saying the character can’t have depth, but people generally associate hulk with his penchant for smashing, which this movie somewhat lacks. I really like the Danny Elfman score though.

    • TragicGuineaPig

      Danny Elfman rarely hits a foul. I still think his Batman theme is superseded only by the Walker theme (and she was his protege, so his influence still shows strongly).

  11. The reason there aren’t any solo movies planed isn’t because his previous movies were underwhelming, it’s because Universal refuses to give distribution rights to Disney. The Incredible Hulk was able to come out because Marvel had managed to reacquire production rights from Universal while they still kept distribution rights before Disney acquired Marvel, but now Disney is the sole distributor of movies produced by Marvel, so they’re not producing any movies they can’t distribute.

  12. Although I enjoy everything I watch of the NC, this review made me laugh the hardest in a long while.

    I admit, I was really pumped for this movie and honestly enjoyed it when I first watched it…but subsequent viewings have born out ALL the shortcomings that were brought to light here. Eric Bana is probably the WORST choice of a Bruce Banner actor ever and while that’s only one of the problems of movie, to me it’s the biggest. His absurdly stoic delivery of 90% of his lines just fails magnificently in portraying a person holding a vast reservoir of inner violence and rage at bay, something that I feel both Edward Norton and Mark Ruffalo managed to do in their own ways in their portrayal of the character. Hell, even the late Bill Bigsby provided a sort of tortured aspect to the character that, while didn’t really suggest rage or anger, did give “David” Banner a persistent air of conflict.

    …and basically making the Hulk look like a roided-out Shrek, not a great choice, guys. The idea that he became larger as well as more physically powerful seemed out of place to me too, although that might have been less intentional and more “I can’t be bothered to manage visual scale in this movie; too many weird transitions to plot!”

    Ultimately, really fun review of an absurdly sub-par superhero movie.

  13. I actually watched the whole movie as a kid & it was one of the worst movies I’ve seen due to it being so boring.

  14. GreenGoblinsOckVenom86

    Good review. I somewhat have started liking this over the years but it goes without saying that the 2008 and Avengers films did a better job with Hulk. When I first saw it though, I didn’t like it very much and hated the whole storyline with his father which it turns out was a part of the comics. Though not exactly the same as this movie. It is a bit of a mess and even I’ll admit the comic book editing is ridiculous.

  15. I have to say, that Hulk is my favorite character of all time. And I saw this movie in the cinema when I was only 8 years old.
    I annoyed the entire crow as my mom pulled me out of the room while I was crying.
    Until now I thought that it was because I was scared of the monsters.
    Now, I realize that maybe I was subconsciously aware of how awful this movie was. Even if I defended it for a long time.
    Thanks for opening my eyes.

  16. Ah, so that’s where TV Tropes got the image for “Chewing Up the Scenery.”

    But seriously, this movie looks bland as hell. I will give credit that this movie has some very interesting transitions, albeit most of them are just rendered too bizarre. The game based off this movie, somewhat, was a little bit more interesting than this movie…I think. God, all I remember was fighting Gamma Dogs, and no mutant French Poodles. Good call on the game developers.

  17. How about you review a good movie next week, like The Incredible Hulk?

    • Do you even Nostalgia Critic?

      • What he can’t review more positive stuff?! Cause he clearly did it before.

        All the same, not every review should be negative!

        • The comedy comes from him reviewing films he doesn’t like. I can warrant a guess that’s where he is at his most creative and funny.

          • Still this episode’s ending kind’a felt defeating, and I’d just like to hear his thoughts on the Incredible Hulk anyway.

          • You know it was a spoof of the old 70’s show where Dr. Banner would move on to the next town hitchhiking while “The Silent Man” played softly on piano, right?

          • Yeah I know, but still I would like to see Doug’s thoughts or at least the NC character’s thoughts on the latter film.

            At least something like NC saying “Oh, hey the Incredible Hulk movie. Alright!” Or whatever.

            But that’s just me personally, you’re free to disagree as you wish.

          • (That piece is called “The Lonely Man”.)

  18. Good God I needed a smile today and, as always, Doug and the gang didn’t disappoint. As you always do; you put a smile on my face whenever I need one. Thank you.

  19. When “The Incredible Hulk” movie came out, the local movie critic talked about how great this movie was. Not compared to “The Incredible Hulk”…that it was some sort of misunderstood great film.

    That was the day I realized critics are full of it and you should never trust their opinions. 😛

  20. This was the ONLY movie I fell asleep at the theater. If I drove that night I would have left 30 minutes into it. So fucking boring and all that weird cuts, The owners of the theater thought their projecter was broken. This is the worst movie I ever seen and I watched Battlefield Earth!

  21. Don’t be hard on Ang Lee. He made a movie about gay cowboys who have sex with each other mainstream.

  22. I don’t think it gets mentioned around here enough, so I’ll just come out and say that, even though I love your site, this player fuckin’ SUCKS!

    • TragicGuineaPig

      I’ve said it often enough that Linkara actually posts YouTube links for those (like me) having trouble with Vidme.

    • The problem isn’t with the Vidme player; it’s the Vidme player’s fighting with the ads that are continually playing on this site. The video will be on Doug’s YouTube channel the following day, but if you don’t want to wait for that, you could try watching the video on Doug’s Vidme channel, or try watching it on a different browser.

      Also, Doug could provide a link to his YouTube page like Lewis Lovehaug (Linkara) does.

  23. What better way to celebrate my 31st birthday than a Nostalgia Critic review on director Ang Lee’s cinematic blunder, “Hulk,” a review I’ve been waiting years for. I agree that the teaser trailer looked better than this.

    I also remembered being a bit annoyed by the editing when I first saw this movie in theaters. They tried to do it in a comic book style (which according to the DVD special features, that IS what they intended), but it just came off as confusing and head scratching at times.

    At least Jennifer Connelly later gave a better comic book movie performance as Karen (Spider-Man’s suit A.I.) in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

    I’ve seen better green walls in The Matrix Trilogy.

    Another thing I find iffy about The Hulk in this movie is that his maximum height (according to the DVD) is 15 feet (which is one feet shorter than Bumblebee). I’m just happy that the Marvel Cinematic Universe realistically shrunk him down to like 9 feet.

    I also find the scene of Bruce’s father becoming the Absorbing Man as a really cool scene.

    I was also just thinking of that rock formation in the desert looking like a penis.

    Thank Christ that Marvel Studios made The Hulk awesome again 5 years later with The Incredible Hulk and the rest of his Marvel Cinematic Universe appearances. If only Universal Studios would get off their ass and make another solo Hulk film, especially one with The Leader.

  24. Overlord Thraka

    Can we seriously have another player? Please? This one sucks and buffers every 20 seconds

  25. Well at least this review brought back to me nostalgia over the TV show I used to watch as a kid. Thanks, Dough. 🙂

  26. Sorry Critic I have to heavily disagree on the whole being stalked by a person with three dogs is not scary. If that happened to me, I’d be scared, because you know, a total stranger is stalking me outside my house.

  27. Fuller House is a good show.

  28. Love the nods to the original Incredible Hulk TV series in the beginning and closing.

  29. I just realized that seeing this movie as a kid might be the reason I don’t like the Hulk. I mean, this movie was the first time I ever heard about the Hulk. And keep in mind, I even like Catwoman. It’s a shame because if there weren’t so many boring scenes this had the potential to at least be so bad that it’s good. D: Sometimes my brain mixes the scenes from this movie and the scenes from the other Hulk movie. I remember the Hulk in this movie but then I keep thinking I’m going to see Edward Norton. This movie messed up my mind apparently. LOL.

    • You’ve honestly never heard of The Incredible Hulk before this one movie? You’re either very young or you’ve led an incredibly sheltered life.

      • Not exactly. When I was a kid, I knew about Batman and the other DC heroes through that one animated Justice League show and I knew about Teen Titans through their animated show. There was no animated show for Hulk so this movie was my first introduction.

  30. I remember watching this when it came out I liked Sam Elliott as Thunderbolt Ross but everything else was kind of forgettable

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