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Hulk vs. The Incredible Hulk vs. The Avengers

There are two movies about the Hulk and one that features the green monster as a major player. One was made in 2003 by an auteur, starring a little-known Aussie. Five years later The Incredible Hulk came out to the same tepid reaction as Ang Lee's Hulk did. This weekend, The Avengers made the Hulk as popular as he has been in a long time. So it comes down to this: Hulk vs. Hulk vs. Hulk. Who will smash whom?

Round One: Acting
Edward Norton outshines Eric Bana as the dual persona of the meek Bruce Banner and the rage-induced Hulk. Eric Bana was given little to do but run and fight and often the audience was just waiting for him to transform. With the Incredible Hulk, Norton's Banner is fully fleshed-out and we are given a reason to care about him. Being allowed to go a little dark with Banner's scenes questioning what is left of his life provided emotional resonance to the character that Hulk lacked. Yet even with the capable performance that Norton gives there was something to be desired. Throughout the majority of Incredible Hulk we are welcomed to thrown punches instead of character development. Mark Ruffalo shines in his brief portions of Avengers, but despite his immense charisma, his shortened screentime puts him at an advantage against Edward Norton. This round goes to The Incredible Hulk, by an edge.

Round Two: Kick-Assery
Hulk features mutated, giant battling dogs, and then a lightning monster played by Nick Nolte, hardly fitting of the Hulk's talents. The Incredible Hulk benefits from the climactic showdown with Tim Roth's demented Abomination that destroys most of Harlem, however it is not enough to best Ruffalo's romp through the third act of The Avengers. Loki's interrupted monologue will attest to that.

Round Three: Effects
Hulk suffers from a lot of helter-skelter motions that visually distracts audiences from the film. And again, giant CGI dogs: Hulk is disqualified immediately. The Incredible Hulk steps up a few more rungs on the technological ladder due to the sheer benefit of several years of advances in the computer generated images. Even with that concession, the Hulk hardly resembled Edward Norton. It is The Avengers that provides the most realistic looking Hulk and one who actually matches his alter-ego. There is no need to hide this Hulk in shadows, he can battle it out in daylight in the middle of Manhattan.

Final score: Hulk (0) The Incredible Hulk (1) The Avengers (2)

So with a final score of 2-1-0 Ruffalo's Hulk takes this match-up. Ultimately, the 2003 and 2005 films are middling at best, so it made the competition very easy considering The Avengers finally had an actor and an auteur who knew how to write to his jolly green benefit.

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