Growing up, I was always
fascinated with the Incredible Hulk. I wasn’t an avid comic book
collector, so most of my experience came from the televised work of Lou
Ferrigno and Bill Bixby. It wasn’t Shakespeare,
but it was a fun hour in front of the tube on any given Saturday afternoon.
For those unfamiliar with
Hulk basics, David Banner (Bixby) is a scientist who, while trying to unlock
the hidden strength that all humans have, accidentally bombards himself with
an overdose of gamma radiation (as opposed to an intentional overdose). Now,
whenever hurt or just basically pissed off, David Banner turns into the
Incredible Hulk (Ferrigno): a green monstrosity with almost limitless
strength and a healing factor that won’t quit. There is, of course, a
catch: David Banner loses all sense of reason when he’s the Hulk, and the
Hulk, in turn, spends his limited time on Earth mostly breaking stuff,
throwing bad guys into dumpsters, carrying around comely young women, and
being hard on pants.
After being accused
of a murder he didn’t commit, David Banner goes on the lam.
He travels the country looking for a cure, as well as an opportunity to
clear his name. All the while he must evade both the authorities and an
annoying reporter named Jack McGee who’s determined to reveal Banner’s
dark secret (for fame, wealth, and all that other good stuff).
entertaining, there is no denying the fact that “The Incredible Hulk”
was a bit formulaic. David Banner, perpetual hitchhiker, would wander into
some quaint out-of-the-way town, get a job and a love interest, bad guys
would inevitably disrupt his newfound stasis, he’d get pissed or hurt,
turn into the Hulk, toss said baddies into a nearby dumpster, and then it
was back on the road again before the authorities showed up.
I never said the show was genius.
or not, “The Incredible Hulk” nevertheless had successful TV run. And
unlike other series with a continuing
storyline, Bill Bixby was gracious enough to provide some closure (albeit a
few years after the final episode.) The
franchise’s last hurrah came in the form of four made-for-TV movies: The
Incredible Hulk Returns, The Trial of the Incredible Hulk, Bar
Mitzvah of the Incredible Hulk, and finally, The Death of the
Incredible Hulk. Naturally, being made-for-TV, these movies were a far
cry from fine cinema; but like the series from which they were spawned, all
four films were fairly entertaining.
aforementioned closure came, obviously, with the aptly titled Death of
the Incredible Hulk. Not one to stray from the tried-and-true formula,
this installation also has David Banner holing up in a town du jour; this
time working as a custodian at a top secret laboratory. He fakes being
mentally-challenged, for then no one suspects him as the perpetrator who
stealthily breaks into the lab every night and anonymously helps the
resident scientist, Dr. Pratt, with his efforts in uncovering the secret
which could lead to a cure for Banner’s affliction. Think along the lines
of a Good Will Hulking.
through an act of sheer genius, Dr. Pratt quickly discovers the identity of
his mystery assistant (simply put, he hides in the lab late one night and
Banner to show up). And despite David’s history of breaking and entering,
the two scientists become friends. Together they strive to finish Pratt’s
experiments and cure Banner once and for all. They make fast progress, but
just as it looks like they are about to rid the world of the Incredible Hulk
once and for all, a German (at least I think they were German) band of spies
complicate matters by trying to steal Pratt’s work (in hopes of making the
ultimate super soldier – who, in the words of the immortal Lugosi, will:
“Take over the verld!”). David
Banner soon finds himself in a dangerous predicament as he tries to protect
his newfound friends, foil the dastardly Germans, save the experiment, and,
of course, elude the Man who, as always, is hot on his trail.
it’s not anything particularly special, I found The Death of the
Incredible Hulk to be rather enjoyable. I attribute this mostly to
childhood nostalgia and an affinity toward Bill Bixby. As I eluded to
before, David Banner is the ultimate unlikely hero, and Bill Bixby plays the
part to perfection. He just strikes me as an all-around normal guy
constantly pushed into extraordinary situations. Basically, he’s an
everyday schmuck like myself. Difference being, he turns superhuman when
ticked off. I, on the other hand, simply whine profusely and feebly stamp my
feet. Bixby didn’t have the looks of, say, Dirk Benedict. Nor did he have
the physique of, say, Miles O’Keefe. He did, however, sport a flannel like
none other. I swear the man had a flannel for every occasion. Of course, he
must have to buy his clothes in bulk due to his bad habit of hulking out
whenever he gets pissed at the neighbor for playing the stereo too loud or
stubs his toe on the coffee table while bumbling through a dark house in
search of a midnight snack.
purists might complain that they totally disregard the existence of Jack
McGee, but personally, I have no problem with it. I have always hated the
guy. He was obnoxious. I understand that as an important character trait,
but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. It could’ve been his smarminess
that I found so annoying, but it probably has more to do with his theme
song. Unfortunately, I can’t describe it here (I’m just not that good of
a writer), but if you ever happen to run into me in person, just ask and
I’ll be happy to hum it for you.
when it comes to The Death of the Incredible Hulk, you get what you
expect. If you followed the TV show, you get the same from the TV movie. The
formula worked then, and it works now. They promise closure and you get it.
There isn’t anything more final than death. The only gripe I have is with
the title itself. In this writer’s humble opinion, it kinda gives
everything away. How about something a little more vague? Hiatus of the
Incredible Hulk, perhaps?