Incredible Hulk Gets The Streaming Home It Always Deserved

2008's Incredible Hulk is now streaming on Disney+.

By Kevin C. Neece | Updated

Variety reports that The Incredible Hulk is about to be streaming on Disney+. While the film connects to the MCU, it was a Universal Studios release when it premiered back in 2008, and the studio has held the distribution rights ever since. However, those rights were set to expire and revert back to Marvel Studios after 15 years.

Since The Incredible Hulk was released 15 years ago this June 13, Marvel is getting control of the film again—hence its triumphant premiere on the Disney streamer. Of course, Mark Ruffalo is well known for his years portraying Bruce Banner and his smashing alter ego, but he is not the first actor to do so on the big screen. Ang Lee’s 2003 film Hulk was the first to ever attempt at a CGI version of the character in a live-action movie and starred Eric Bana in the title role.

While that film told the Hulk origin story, it was not as well received as was hoped, and sequel plans turned into reboot plans. Five years later, The Incredible Hulk took another run at the tale, now with Edward Norton playing the title character. Norton took issue with the final cut of the film, resulting in the actor and Marvel parting ways.

Edwards Norton
Edward Norton in The Incredible Hulk (2008)

When Mark Ruffalo took over the role in 2012’s The Avengers, fans responded much more positively than they had to the previous Hulk actors and films, cementing Ruffalo’s place in the MCU. There is no origin story for Ruffalo’s Hulk because he is the same character, simply recast and not rebooted. Therefore, the Norton film clearly belongs in the MCU canon, and it’s about time it was streaming alongside all the other films featuring the green guy.

Directed by Louis Leterrier, The Incredible Hulk gives a compelling, character-driven origin to the muscle-bound hero, and Norton’s performance in the role is quite good. There is also excellent contrast between the Hulk’s massive bulk and Norton’s spindly frame, a fact of which the film’s poster takes full advantage. It also features great moments like the gag when Banner, in preparation for future transformations, asks a vendor in Brazil if they have pants that are “mas stretchy.”

Also included in The Incredible Hulk are characters who will soon be making returns to the current phase of the MCU. Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross is set to return in Captain America: Brave New World, though Harrison Ford will be replacing William Hurt in the role following Hurt’s death last spring. Before his passing, Hurt was able to reprise the role in Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Black Widow.

The film will also see the return of Betty Ross, portrayed again by Liv Tyler, who originated the role opposite Norton in 2008.

Given the soon-coming return of those characters, it’s a good time to stream The Incredible Hulk and see where they came from in the MCU. The film’s debut on Disney+ reinforces the place in the franchise it has always had and deserved. It also deserves to be revisited, as it was underappreciated in its initial run, becoming the lowest-grossing of all the MCU films.

But The Incredible Hulk actually improves in many ways on its predecessor and helped set the tone for MCU films that would follow. It also features one of the best Stan Lee cameos as a man who drinks a soda that has accidentally been tainted with a drop of Bruce Banner’s irradiated blood. At the time, it was the best live-action treatment the character had received, and after 15 years, it holds up a lot better than Bruce Banner’s old pants.

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