Trolling #29: Ang Lee’s Hulk RULES!

Don’t make me Ang Lee. You wouldn’t like me when I’m Ang Lee.

Ang Lee’s 2003 non-superhero film Hulk came early in the now-long-winded comic-movie boom, only just cashing in on the ever-growing Marvel craze carried by films like Spider-Man 2 and X2: X-Men United. Lee was openly not a fan of comic books, and audiences – at the time – were eager to see how he would handle comic book material. And audiences came in droves. Hulk has earned a whopping $132 million to date. It was also critically lauded by many a reviewer, although it holds a largely average 62% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

But since its release, audiences have turned sour on the film, calling it a garish misstep in the superhero cinematic canon. Indeed, the production company that owned the Hulk character picked up on the ever-increasing bad vibes to the point of remaking the film entirely, eschewing the 2003 original, and producing a far less interesting actioner called The Incredible Hulk (which has – to put it into perspective – made almost the same amount of money, and was only slightly higher rated). The vitriol against Ang Lee’s hit film quickly grew to epidemic proportions, and nowadays, people regard it as an embarrassment at best, and one of the worst superhero films ever made at worst. No one has anything kind to say about it anymore, and if they do, it’s always a heavily qualified statement.

Well, my friend, we here at Trolling deliberately stand in opposition to your hatred, defending everything that you think sucks. And we feel that Hulk is hugely maligned, certainly underrated, and might even be a great movie. Indeed, we’d like to unashamedly declare that Ang Lee’s Hulk RULES! Here are some reasons why I’m right and you’re wrong.  

True, there is a rather silly climax to the film wherein the Hulk fights a lake made of his father (it only kind of makes sense in the context of the film), and I can understand why some people might no like Lee’s leisurely pacing. But a lack of mayhem or a true-to-comics source material supervillain would not have improved this. I’ve been saying this for years: Fidelity to the source material is not a virtue unto itself. What Lee did was take a pop culture figure that millions know (or at least kind of know) and get to its heart. He made an interesting film that has more ideas – and more to say – than any other Marvel film to date.

Until next week, let the hate mail flow.  

Witney Seibold is the head film critic for Nerdist, and a contributor on the CraveOnline Film Channel, and co-host of The B-Movies Podcast. You can read his weekly articles Trolling, and The Series Project, and follow him on “Twitter” at @WitneySeibold, where he is slowly losing his mind.