As Marvel fans, we’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment over the last decade with introducing our kids to these stories; first watching at home, then as they got older, seeing them in theatres and witnessing them flip out with giddy excitement at character reveals and plot twists. But recently we realized: we’ve never watched all of them as a family, and certainly not in release order. And that’s left some gaps in their understanding of the relationships between all these heroes.
Thus, as a family, we pledged to embark upon an epic MCU rewatch before we see Avengers: Endgame in the theatre, and answer the all-important question: should you watch these with your kids?
ICYMI: read our thoughts on Iron Man, the original on-screen Avenger, here.
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Okay, first of all, to clarify, the Hulk movie that is considered Marvel canon is this one starring Edward Norton, not the Eric Bana one directed by Ang Lee. Know your Hulks! The correct one is currently streaming on Netflix.
I had forgotten that this film cleverly front loads the Hulk’s well-known origin story to run as a backdrop against the opening credits. It’s a very smooth choice that lets viewers drop right into the story as Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) tries to learn to manage his condition and keep the Hulk under control.
We open with Banner on the run, living in a favela in Brazil and working in a factory while he spends his spare time corresponding with another scientist, Mr. Blue, via encrypted text and trying to find a cure for the gamma radiation that makes him “Hulk out” whenever his heart rate goes up to a certain level. Eventually though, he gets made, and soon the military is on his tail. An exciting chase sequence ensues, and inevitably ends when the Hulk surges out and escapes.
Banner awakens in the jungle, having returned to his normal form. Somewhat improbably given that he didn’t take anything with him, least of all a passport, he makes his way back to where the experiment originated — Culver University in Virginia — and reunites with his ex-girlfriend, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler). Together, they track down Mr. Blue and work on a cure.
Meanwhile, General Ross (William Hurt) is still working to find Banner, and is still conducting experiments in an effort to create a super-soldier program. He finds a willing recruit in a Royal Marine, Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), but predictably, things go awry, and there you have the Big Bad.
So, should you watch it with your kids? Personally, aside from a few plot holes, I found this an entertaining and eminently watchable movie. The kids, however, bounced after the first exciting chase sequence, and only came back for the final battle royale, declaring the middle part “boring”. Side note to those from The 6ix: most of the filming was done in Toronto, so you can play a fun game of “spot the landmark” to pass the time!
Bottom line: watch the beginning, fast forward, and watch the final fight.