The Incredible Hulk is the first pancake of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Just as the first pancake in the batch is used to test temperature and timing, the first MCU movie after Iron Man and used to test just what makes the sub-genre that would become “the Marvel movie” what it is. Because of that, it’s a raw, ambitious watch. The only problem is, it’s difficult to watch it at all. In fact, The Incredible Hulk isn’t available to stream outside of paid rentals. However, that could all change.
Redditor recently u/Alegna94 posted a look at Disney+’s official marketing within Spain. Alongside the normal June releases, there lay one outsider — The Incredible Hulk. What’s peculiar is that Disney doesn’t own the streaming rights for the film. Technically, Universal Pictures still owns the character, though he’s been on loan to the MCU for over a decade now.
This presumably means a deal was brokered to allow Disney to stream the film in Spain, which could open the door to another similar deal in the US.
While Universal movies are more likely to end up streaming on Peacock, Disney could very well secure the rights to The Incredible Hulk in the future. As the most forgotten Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, it would be a welcome appearance on the service. And it’s been 13 years since it was released, meaning many younger MCU fans may not have even been alive, let alone old enough to enjoy it. Here’s what they were missing.
Unlike the earlier, non-MCU film from director Ang Lee, The Incredible Hulk isn’t really about the origins of Bruce Banner. Sure, the gamma radiation is shown, but soon after the action shifts to five years later, when Banner is lying low in Rio de Janeiro. But an ill-timed scrape gets him back into the crosshairs of the U.S. government and back confronting his alter ego.
There are a lot of differences in tone and content from the later MCU films. Though it maintained the PG-13 rating that’s become standard in the franchise, Bruce actually expresses human desire, but can’t have sex with his love interest Betty Ross for fear of triggering a transformation. Bruce is allowed to be a person, not just a superhero, which becomes harder to achieve as the MCU evolves and tries to outdo itself ad nauseam.
Edward Norton embodies Bruce Banner the same way Bruce Banner exists within this new film — extremely anxiously. He seeks the cure for his being with paranoid glances constantly, punctuated with moments of humor that would go on to become the bread and butter of all superhero movies. His villain counterpart, Abomination aka Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), exists on the other end of the spectrum. Where Edward Norton communicates nuance, Tim Roth approaches every line like a personal challenge and has the action chops to match.
The Incredible Hulk may also become pivotal MCU watching very soon. Thaddeus Ross was introduced in that movie and is set to return in Black Widow. Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson) could also show up in She-Hulk on Disney+ after being exposed to Bruce Banner’s blood and beginning his transformation into the hyper-intelligent supervillain The Leader.
Hopefully, The Incredible Hulk will be available on Disney+ in the near future. Even if you don’t consider it of the same caliber as the rest of the MCU, it deserves to be studied like an artifact, a museum piece to show just how you can create a gigantic worldwide franchise with nothing more than a stack of comics and a blockbuster budget.