Last night I went to see 'The Incredible Hulk'. Spoilers may follow, so be wary about reading further. Sufficed to say: Hulk Good!
The film starts as if Ang Lee's bouncing Hulk had never existed - and all the better for it. In the titles we were rushed through the 'accidental overdose of gamma radiation' story, in much the same way that it used to for the 70s TV show (which I watched as a child and thought was great).
There are homages to the show all the way through, not least of which is that Ed Norton has a serious Bill Bixby vibe about him. The first time we see Banner change into the hulk 'in the now' as opposed to in flashback this is done with a big nod to the 70s. Close up of Banner (aka Ed Norton). Banner is hiding in Brazil, and learning Portuguese - he's in an altercation with some locals and messes up the language, saying (in pidgin Portuguese): "Don't make me hungry, you wouldn't like me when I'm hungry" There are little comic nods. Banner goes shopping for trousers, and makes sure that he buys only trousers which are elasticated. There is even a subtle reference to the purple trousers of the comic books.
At one point, Lou Ferrigno appears as a security guard and does Banner a mild favour. 'You're the man' says Banner.
None of the 'in-jokes' are done in a way that you'd notice them if you weren't "in the loop" - it's all very well handled.
All through the film, we see references to Stark Industries - on the blueprints to plans in the titles, to labels on weaponry - so it when Robert Downey Jr appeared as Tony Stark it was no real surprise, but it did get an excited 'whooo' from the audience - and this is in the UK, we're not Americans, we watch films quietly! I'm so pleased that they finally seem to have a masterplan for the Marvel Universe - that different films are pollinating each other. It will be tricky to ensure that this is done in such a way that it doesn't become impossible to follow, and doesn't exclude people who didn't see one particular part of the franchise... however, I thought the Hulk example was done well. Anyone who hadn't seen 'Iron Man' would have just thought 'Businessman arms dealer type, Stark.. oh yes, he was on all those labels.... hang on, wasn't he the guy in Ally McBeal?'
For me, this was a Hulk film as I wanted to see it (having grown up with Bill Bixby). It was poignant (even using the 70s 'Hulk' theme as Banner wandered around with a satchel)
My one beef is that the Hulk character itself still didn't feel 'real' - it's a giant cartoon character. Very well executed, and I couldn't have done better, but it was still a computer graphic - and whilst I could ignore that, I could never truly forget that it wasn't a real 'thing'. That's not to say that it wasn't spectacular - it's just that it's very hard to render photo-realistic human shaped objects.
There was no after-credit title sequence (unlike in Iron Man, which I missed) - so don't feel like you have to hang around!
If you can, go and see Iron Man, then go and see this - however, the Hulk does not depend upon Iron Man.