Midnight Mass - Watching The Incredible Hulk

by Brandon

I don't do this often, honest. The plan was so deliciously perfect. My friend and co-worker Scott and I catch all sorts of shitty movies together that my significant other won't see with me. Scott's my rock 'n roll friend, but with a fanboy twist. The last two weeks of school were agonizing, but his plan to catch a midnight showing of Hulk in celebration was too tantalizing. The plan was set, the tracks laid. Now all we could do was wait and simmer in geekiness. Preparations must be made.

Here is the truth; I am not a huge fan of the Hulk. Nor would I even consider my knowledge of the Hulk to be anywhere near encyclopedic. if anything, my knowledge of the Hulk would probably more resemble Wikipedia after your twelve year old cousin went through and blindly edited several pages to include crude jokes about Hulk's penis size. I enjoy the Ultimate version far more than the Marvel version. My only real, extended exposure to the anti-hero in Green was with the Bruce Jones run, which apparently a large swath of Hulk fans pretty much hated. Planet Hulk? I skipped it. World War Hulk? Meh. This Red Hulk business? Check, please.

You see, I like Bruce Banner oriented-Hulk books more than just Hulk Smash books. Why? Because with Bruce there seems to be a lot more character development, more that I can relate to. With Hulk, you pretty much get what you expect; Hulk smashes shit. While this can be entertaining, it's generally not enough for me to keep reading.

I, like many fans, have been very skeptical about this possibly-too-soon remake of the franchise. This honest dose of skepticism is well deserved. The 2003 Ang Lee film brings up a Spinal Tap moment for a two word review; shit sandwich. I'm happy that he was able to follow it up with a masterpiece like Brokeback Mountain. Not many directors could rebound from such an incredible flub like Hulk (pun intended).

Our plan to see Hulk at midnight needed some rigid preparations that we would slavishly adhered to. It was like preparing for the Geek Olympics. We wanted a Medal for seeing it at midnight. The preparations for our midnight excursion were thus;

1) Go to bed late on Wednesday night. This is not an easy thing for two teachers accustomed to rising early and going to bed even earlier.
2) Wake up late on Thursday morning.
3) At 9 PM Thursday, drink a pot of coffee. Caffeinated, please.
4) Mentally prepare yourself by reading comic books.
5) Arrive at theater around 11:30 PM to bask in the geekiness and talk shop.

We each followed our merry plan to completion. I read some comics that had absolutely nothing to do with Hulk so I could go in fresh; Punisher War Journal, Star Wars: Legacy, and Conan were my brews of choice. I got in my car and made it to the theater. My people were there. There was every variety of fanboy and fangirl present, as if Noah had parked the Ark outside of the local comic shop and took us fans two-by-two into his warm embrace. There were lots of young folks too. Nothing ages you more than a gaggle of teens and college students.

The theater was abuzz with anticipation. As Scott and I found our seats, we heard snippets of at least twelve conversations we could have easily contributed to along the way. Someone was talking about how the Cap scene was taken out. Another was discussing the new War Zone trailer on the net. Yet another was talking about he was done with these "bullshit events." My people. Chance are since you're reading this, your people too.

The theater manager entered to warm up the crowd. He let us know about all the other midnight shows coming up. Once he huddled off, the previews began and the film opened up. The bright, catchy introduction began to play that we have come to expect from Marvel films, sufficiently covering the origin of our hero in green. What happened next took us all by surprise.

It was a great Hulk film.

Maybe our expectations were too low, but everyone in the theater applauded at the end. I hadn't seen that happen in a long time. I won't spoil anything for you, kind reader, but I will say that you are in for a treat when you hit the theater. It is not a perfect film, but it probably ranks just below Iron Man in terms of quality. There's a little humor. There's a little romance. There's a lot of action. You definitely leave the theater wanting more, which is always a good thing. The future looks bright for Hulk.

The rest of my day just looks plain sleepy.


Cindy Cooper said...

Sounds like a blast, Brandon!

Jon Quixote said...

Unfortunately, rarely do you get any good 'character development' in the Banner-heavy stories. There's no character development in the Bruce Jones run, for example. Banner leaves the book pretty much as he was at the beginning, and I don't think we learned all that much about him that we didn't know before.

Prior to Jones, most of the "character development" regarding Banner was pretty crappy. Focus on Banner = another issue that takes place in the mindscape, with amateur psycholocrap like multiple personalities fighting each other (literally) for dominance.

Conversely, the savage Hulk issues were often the ones with the most character development. An example would be the Crossroads storyline where a mindless Hulk with a "dead" Banner aspect gradually developed his own personality over the course of 12 issues or so. Or the fantastic Christopher Priest issue between the Jenkins and Jones runs, where one of Hulk's friends manipulates our Jade Giant, and the issue deals with how the Hulk trusts (or does not trust).

Anyway, the point is that 'Savage Hulk smash' is rarely just Hulk Smash. He was/is a way more layered and nuanced character than that.

Brandon said...

Oh, most definitely. But as an outsider looking in, I never really understood that to a large degree.

Jon Quixote said...

I can definitely see how you'd think that, especially coming from the movie.