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Film / The Incredible Hulk (2008)

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"As far as I'm concerned, that man's whole body is property of the U.S. army."
General Thunderbolt Ross

The Incredible Hulk is a 2008 film based on the character of the same name directed by Louis Leterrier (The Transporter, Unleashed); following the trend of rebooting a franchise rather than creating a sequel to an unpopular first effort, this film takes place in a different continuity from the 2003 version and is the second movie in both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its Phase 1.

The story takes place five years after the tragic accident which created the Hulk, glimpses of which are seen in the opening credits. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) has taken refuge in Brazil as a worker at a bottling plant, where he keeps a low profile and works on controlling his anger in his spare time. When Bruce accidentally spills blood into one of the bottles, a man falls ill from Gamma poisoning by drinking it, which is the clue General Ross (William Hurt) uses to track Banner down. Along for the ride is Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), who is destined to become one of the Hulk's deadliest foes: the Abomination.

Due to legal issues with Universal Studios (who owned the rights to solo-Hulk films), this film is the only Phase 1 Marvel film to have not gotten a sequel. Even worse, when the Hulk next appeared in The Avengers alongside Iron Man, Thor and Captain America, he was recast with Mark Ruffalo (instead of Ed Norton), and very few references were made to any of the events in this film, only alluding to specific events. This film's role in the MCU was finally reinforced in 2016, when Hurt reprised his role as General Ross in Captain America: Civil War. In 2019, the logo for the film was openly included in a montage that listed all the movies preceding Avengers: Endgame, though it didn't use footage from the film — footage from The Avengers and Civil War was used for Banner and Ross instead.note  In a later May 2019 AMA, Kevin Feige confirmed the student eating pizza in this film is the same person as the debate coach in Spider-Man: Homecoming. The film's events were also shown in an alternate universe showcased in What If?, which also made a point to acknowledge the Fury's Big Week comic (which was set during the events of Phase 1's films). The Abomination made a very brief cameo in 2021's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and Tim Roth fully reprised the role in multiple episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.note  Finally, supporting character Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson) has been announced to appear in the forthcoming Phase 5 film Captain America: New World Order.

As noted above, the Hulk next appears in The Avengers, released in 2012. After a cameo in The Stinger of Iron Man 3 in 2013, his next proper appearance would be in 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron, followed by 2017's Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War in 2018, and Avengers: Endgame in 2019. In 2022, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law premiered on Disney+; given that Universal only has the movie rights, the platform seems to be how Disney will sidestep those issues in order to better integrate these characters into the setting.


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    Tropes A to L 
  • 1-Dimensional Thinking: Averted. A soldier running from a huge water tank Hulk threw at him tries to jump out of his path but it's moving so fast it catches on his legs and drags him.
  • Accidental Pervert: While escaping the military, Bruce runs into Martina, who is changing.
  • Adaptational Badass: Not that comic Bruce Banner can't handle himself in a fight, but this movie version has actual training in martial arts.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The film takes bits and pieces from Hulk's 45 year history and compresses them into a single movie. Everything is covered, from Bruce trying (and failing) to find a cure to Bruce being unable to have sex with Betty to Hulk being incredibly protective of Betty. The only thing not brought up is Bruce's daddy issues, and given the huge amount of focus that got in the Ang Lee movie, omitting it entirely may very well be justified.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Played with by Samuel Sterns. In the comics, Sterns is one of the more diabolical villains in that universe, but Sterns is introduced in the film as an eccentric and careless but mostly harmless scientist who tries to cure Banner. After attempting to cure Banner, we then see that Sterns has stockpiled and reproduced Banner's irradiated blood for experimenting. The last we see of him, he's beginning to undergo his transformation into the villainous Leader. Although he has yet to return to the films, the comic tie-in continues his story.
  • Adaptational Intelligence:
    • While comic Betty is not dumb, this version of Betty is actually a scientist.
    • Before he was turned into the super-intelligent villain The Leader, Samuel Stern worked as a janitor and was more average in intelligence. The movie changes him into being a scientist at the same level of Banner. He's actually Dr. Samuel Stern now.
  • Adaptational Nationality: An interesting case. Blonsky is stated to be born in Russia, but raised in England as an Englishman, and eventually served the Royal Marines. In the comics, he was a Soviet spy who served in the KGB. This change is to explain Tim Roth's accent.
  • Adaptational Ugliness: In the comics, Abomination is dark green and scaly, looking like a cross between Hulk, the Creature From the Black Lagoon and an alligator. In the film, he has translucent greyish-yellow skin, no ears and an exposed spine.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • The Hulk's Healing Factor is severely toned down from the comics and 2003 version. Same for his super leaps (though he does manage to run from Brazil to Guatemala overnight; a distance of a few thousand miles.
    • Doc Samson, as he's known in the comics, is a superhero with a standard Super-Strength and Super-Toughness power set, none of which he demonstrates here.
  • The Adjectival Superhero: The Incredible Hulk.
  • Admiring the Abomination: At a few key moments in the film, Samuel Sterns reveals his intense admiration of the monster and his eagerness to see what it can do despite the danger.
  • Age Lift: A college student named after Jack McGee from The Incredible Hulk (1977) appears as a college student, whereas his original counterpart was the same age as Bruce.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Martina is clearly attracted to Bruce, but he doesn't reciprocate it. Understandable given his circumstances though.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • Characters not seen in the film, such as Nick Fury and Rick Jones, are at least mentioned in print in the opening sequence.
    • The thug harassing Martina in the factory is named Silva in the novelization.
    • What was Tony Stark after when he went to speak to General Ross? The World Security Council wanted the Abomination on the Avengers. Stark was sent by S.H.I.E.L.D. in the hopes he'd piss Ross off and cause him to refuse to release Blonsky to the team, as revealed in The Consultant.
    • The film's novelization contains some implications of past parental abuse for Bruce. For the most part, it's in the wording, but Bruce's first thought and instinct upon meeting Doc Samson is that Samson is going to punch him.
      Meantime he approached Banner and put out his hand. It was all Banner could do not to take a step backward in anticipation of Samson endeavoring to belt him.
  • Almighty Janitor: Lampshaded. The factory owner remarks that Bruce is too smart for daily labour and offers to put him on payroll, but Bruce refuses, fearing the military would track him down.
  • Almost Dead Guy: During the attack on Culver University, the Hulk finally gets tired of Blonsky's taunts and ineffective attacks and simply kicks him. Because he's the Incredible Hulk, Blonsky is sent hundreds of yards into a tree with a gruesome crunching sound. He only survives because of the super soldier serum he was already injected with.
  • Appropriated Appellation:
    • "Hulk" is coined during a news broadcast of the rampage at the college. In the novelization, Bruce notes that it has no chance of sticking, then later catches himself using it (to his annoyance).
    • "Abomination" is never directly used to refer to the mutated Blonsky outside of a warning Sterns gives him before the actual mutation, as well as a line from the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in The Consultant. However, the novel has Ross refer to Blonsky by this name out of shock when he realizes who the creature is.
  • Armies Are Evil: Ross tries to imply that he's a Well-Intentioned Extremist, but in private he admits proudly that he admires the Hulk's power, and wishes to "cut it out" of Banner and turn it loose on America's enemies, despite all the collateral damage Hulk inflicts. His dragon also proudly admits that he's a Blood Knight. The rest are mooks.
    General Ross: As far as I'm concerned, that man's whole body is property of the U.S. army.
  • Artistic License – Biology: In this version, Banner says it is an elevated heart rate that triggers his transformation (instead of the traditional fear/anger/adrenaline combo), and later he stops just before having sex with Betty when his pulse monitor goes off. However, the heart rate that triggers Hulk-outs is shown to be an even 200 beats per minute. Discounting the unlikelihood of that happening, this leaves everything in the range of 150-200 beats per minute, the low end of which is a target heart rate for strenuous activity for someone of Bruce's age, perfectly safe. His heart rate should probably kill him long before an event is triggered, but instead, we're told that he gets far too excited during foreplay. It all becomes a moot point in The Avengers where Tony theorizes that the Hulk chooses when to come out. This is usually to protect Banner in dangerous (i.e. stressful and heart pounding) situations.
  • Artistic License – Martial Arts: At one point, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts legend Rickson Gracie shows up in a cameo as Bruce's martial arts instructor and is credited as... Aikido instructor.
  • Artistic License – Military:
    • The film depicts the US Army as all wearing the Battle Dress Uniforms, when the Army had mostly replaced that uniform with the digital-camouflaged Army Combat Uniform by 2008. In fact, the BDU had been formally discontinued for months when this film was released.
    • The soldiers are also shown using M16 rifles when the Army had largely replaced those with the M4 carbine.
    • As a General in the Army, Ross should know that it's not considered appropriate to get utterly smashed in a bar while in his Class A's.
    • It's hard to know if General Ross ever heard of posse comitatus, a law (which has been in force for over a century) that states that the US Military is explicitly prohibited from acting as a police unit, which is precisely what he is doing by declaring Banner to be a murderer (responsible for the deaths of two scientists, an Army officer, an Idaho state trooper and two hunters) and sending in Army units to arrest him (this is setting aside whether or not his declaring Banner to be government property violates the involuntary servitude section of the 13th Amendment). The NYPD would have been legally entitled (and technically required) to arrest him for trying to arrest Banner himself rather than leaving that job up to the local police or the FBI (and the same goes for the Culver University attempt to capture Banner). Not to mention the possibility for a diplomatic incident by sending a commando unit into Brazil, a friendly country which has had an active extradition agreement with the US for over 40 years to kidnap a fugitive without even trying to go through the proper extradition procedures.note 
  • Asshole Victim:
    • The reckless, rude cabbie's vehicle ends up being a weapon of choice for Abomination.
    • The three bullies at the factory are taught a lesson in prudence by The Hulk.
  • Badass Normal: Blonsky is one the finest soldiers in the British military long before his transformation. Though the years have taken their toll and he admits he is not even close to his peak level ability before getting the first dose, he is still the first choice to take on The Hulk.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: When Blonsky transforms into the Abomination, unlike the Hulk, none of his clothes stay on, but he doesn't need them anyway, as he lacks visible external genitalia (given the nature of his transformation, it's likely they're inside his pelvis). The commentary by the director and Tim Roth have them pointing out that since the Hulk has pants, he's got to have something under them, but the Abomination does not. This gets a passing mention when compared to Roth's complaints towards Abomination's anatomy and the lack thereof, with regard to the ears.
  • Beast and Beauty: The scene of the Hulk and Betty in the cave definitely invokes this.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: If you ignore the green skin and the increased size, the Hulk is a pretty hot (and ripped) Walking Shirtless Scene. If you ignore the yellow skin and the increased size, Abomination... is a Buffy the Vampire Slayer Monster of the Week. It's Fridge Brilliance for those who watch Captain America: The First Avenger before watching this movie: Dr. Abraham Erskine's formula "brought out what was within," which is why the Red Skull was... well, a red skull. Abomination's inhuman appearance is due to the same effect.
    • Even before Blonsky fully mutates, it is made apparent that the super soldier injections are starting to warp and deform his spine, and he takes on a much paler, sickly appearance. Blonsky was already transforming into a creature before getting infused with Hulk Blood.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Somehow, all that fire after the helicopter crash never touches Betty's long, beautiful, extremely flammable hair.
  • Berserk Button: Bruce becomes especially enraged whenever harm towards Betty is involved, no matter how harmless. It only takes seeing one of Ross' men physically restrain her to trigger a transformation.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Emil Blonsky and Thunderbolt Ross are the main villains; Ross trying to capture Banner is the primary source of conflict, but he gets upstaged as the Final Boss when his Dragon, Blonsky, injects himself with Banner's blood to become the Abomination. Ross and Banner are forced to work together in order to stop his ensuing rampage.
  • Big "NO!": General Ross, when he believes that Betty has been killed by the explosion of a crashed helicopter on the campus.
  • Blood Knight: After surviving the Mook Horror Show below, Blonsky is downright eager for a rematch.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Though Hulk and Abomination both rack up dozens of victims, we never see blood or remains.
  • Body Horror:
    • Emil Blonsky's slow transformation, which is reminiscent of The Fly (1986). One scene especially, where you can see his spine protruding out of his back.
    • Bruce's transformation to the Hulk is incredibly painful and at times asymmetrical. The top half of him will sometimes transform before the lower half catches up. When he and Sterns attempt the cure, Bruce's shoulder briefly distorts from the additional mass and he can be heard screaming in pain before his voice shifts into the Hulk's angry grunts.
  • Book Ends: We see green beverages at the beginning and end - the guarana sodas and that stuff General Ross keeps knocking back—which are, in fact, a real-life drink named "The Incredible Hulk."
  • Broad Strokes: The movie is technically a Continuity Reboot, doing a quick revisit of the origin story and having General Ross further explain their version of the backstory details. Still, it uses elements of the 2003 movie in that it starts 5 years after Banner's Freak Lab Accident, as even with major details changed it would retread the same basic story (Banner is irradiated, learns what he has become and fights against the military). The '03 movie also ends with Banner hiding from the government in South America, which is where this movie picks up his story. The major details that were changed include that the Hulk doesn't get larger the angrier he gets, General Ross was not a sympathetic figure and Bruce's project was tied directly to the military instead of just attracting their attention when things went crazy. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. reveals another detail that's different from Hulk: Glenn Talbot is still in the army—and still alive and well. He's also considerably older and actually ends up reaching the same rank as Ross.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Blonsky gets some humble pie courtesy of the Hulk.
    Blonsky: Is that it? Is that all you've got?
    [Hulk kicks Blonsky across a field and into a tree, flattening him]
  • The Cameo: Martial artist Rickson Gracie appears to teach Banner breathing exercises.
  • Can't Have Sex, Ever: The movie demonstrates that, rather than simply getting angry, it's an elevated heart rate that triggers his transformation—making sex off limits.
  • Cassandra Truth: When Blonsky demands to have the Hulk's blood and gamma radiation applied to him, Sterns argues against it, claiming that the gamma-blood combined with Blonksky's experimental super-serumed body might turn him into "an abomination". Blonsky doesn't care, and holds Sterns at gunpoint to transform him anyway.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "HULK SMASH!" is inserted at the climax of the fight between Hulk and Abomination; it doubles as a Pre-Asskicking One-Liner.
    • Parodied when Bruce tries to warn some bullies not to make him angry, but his mediocre Portuguese leaves him saying "Don't make me hungry. You won't like me when I'm hungry. Wait, that doesn't sound right."
  • Chekhov's Gun: Several are briefly glimpsed in the opening sequence (e.g. the name of Doc Samson and other characters who would appear later). For a more literal case, the plans for the sonic Humvees used at the university appear, and are seen to be provided by Stark Industries.
  • Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: Played with. The Hulk is called so very sparingly, with only Blonsky and the Hulk himself ever using it in a non-ironic fashion. Also, the Abomination is never directly called that, except for one off-hand remark by Samuel Sterns. General Ross is not referred to as "Thunderbolt" Ross, though a deleted scene has him referred to as "T" over the phone.
  • Confused Bystander Interview: There's an interview that doubles as a Mythology Gag: the two college students interviewed about the Hulk's appearance at Culver University are Jack McGee (Banner's Inspector Javert from the TV series) and Jim Wilson (one of Hulk's Kid Sidekicks from the comics). McGee is even described as a reporter...for the student newspaper.
  • Continuity Nod: The S.H.I.E.L.D. logo shows up on computer screens twice.
  • Contrived Coincidence: It's bad enough poor Bruce is barely staying ahead of his Army pursuers in Brazil, he manages to bowl into the leader of the bullies - in a crowded city - while doing so.
  • Creator Cameo: Stan Lee will think twice before opening another bottle of soda.
  • Dangerous Phlebotinum Interaction: Blonsky makes Sterns infuse him with Bruce Banner's blood so he can gain the Hulk's power. Due to his own Super Soldier Serum reacting with it he undergoes a one-way transformation to the stronger (and uglier) Abomination.
  • Disowned Parent: Betty Ross is furious with her father for causing Bruce Banner's transformation into the Hulk by lying to them about what the experiment they were conducting was for (he told them it was build up resistance to gamma radiation when it was really an attempt to create a new Super-Soldier) and refusing to take responsibility for it, as well as hunting down Bruce to perfect the Super-Soldier serum. When she finally confronts him, she shows just how bitter she is about the whole thing:
    Betty: I will never forgive you for what you've done to him.
    General Ross: He's a fugitive...
    Betty: You made him a fugitive, to cover your failures and to protect your career. Don't ever speak to me as your daughter again.
  • Die or Fly: After Sterns tests the antidote on Bruce, neither of them are sure whether it temporarily or permanently suppressed his powers. In the climax, Bruce jumps from a helicopter in order to trigger them once more, confident that the Hulk will keep him from dying. At first, he has an Oh, Crap! moment when it looks like it isn't going to work... only for it to be double subverted the Hulk's arm to emerge from the pavement once he lands.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: A normal human, even one with a failed super soldier serum, should NOT walk up to an enormous green rage monster and say 'Is that all you got'?
  • Driven to Suicide: A Deleted Scene has Bruce Banner trekking to the edge of a glacier with the intention of committing suicide. He takes out a revolver and points it at the cliff edge, apparently hoping to either shoot himself or trigger a collapse of the ice shelf with a gunshot. Instead he starts Hulking Out which triggers the collapse anyway, but to no avail. It was deleted for its dark tone, but was retained in the video game adaptation and later canonized in The Avengers.note 
  • Drives Like Crazy: When going to New York to track down Blue, when given the choice between the subway and the taxi, Banner and Betty decide on the taxi. To put it simply, cramped or not, they really should have chosen the subway instead. Hilariously, Bruce manages to keep calm for the most part and Betty is the one who freaks out, screaming in the driver's face when they come to a stop. note 
  • Drowning My Sorrows: What General Ross ended up doing in the ending before Tony Stark meets up with him with the proposal of forming a team.
    General Ross: Reload. [takes a shot] Reload.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: Blonsky by the end.
    Blonsky: I want more.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Due to Continuity Drift between this and later movies.
    • Besides having Edward Norton instead of Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, the Hulk also looks slightly different from his appearances from The Avengers onward, with more ripped muscles. The Hulk's face also doesn't match Norton's face as well as Ruffalo's Hulk (and Eric Bana's, for that matter) matches his respective Banner. This was due to time constraints. Banner's eyes also glow green when he transforms, which was a nod to the TV series but was dropped in later films.
    • The Super Soldier Serum is revealed through a Freeze-Frame Bonus to have been developed by "Dr. Renstein". In Captain America: The First Avenger, the serum's inventor is named Dr. Abraham Erskine. The comics had Renstein as the original name of the doctor (obviously alluding to Albert Einstein) which was later retconned to Erskine, with Renstein explained as an alias. But given how the Captain America film plays out, it is likely that this serum was reverse-engineered from Captain America's blood by a different person.
    • Stylistically, the film also feels jarring compared to other MCU films thanks to having a dour, darker tone with very little comedy as opposed to most MCU movies, where even the more serious and dramatic ones have more humor. Not feeling like an MCU film is also a factor in it seeming like a standalone movie, but it's hard to argue with Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark showing up.
    • While later MCU films don't shy away from the damage caused by super-powered events, this is one of the last films to openly showcase the human cost, with both Hulk and Abomination slaughtering their way through crowds (though at least Hulk limited himself to Asshole Victims and soldiers sent to hunt him).
  • Enemy Mine: Ross's forces support the Hulk after the Abomination starts ripping apart New York. Notably, the general looks just as surprised as everyone else when a military helicopter starts chasing Banner after Blonsky's defeat, ending their brief alliance.
  • Evil Brit: Blonsky is changed to one, although unlike other examples, he is not cultured or refined (speaking with a heavy Cockney accent).
  • Evil Counterpart: While the Hulk is a destructive monster that Bruce can't quite control, the Abomination is far more of a menace. He's also bigger, stronger and faster than the Hulk thanks to the combination of the Super Soldier Serum and the gamma radiation which created the Hulk in the first place. Hulk has two advantages: first, Abomination's strength is more or less static, while Hulk's increases the angrier he gets, and second, Hulk is significantly better at using his strength in new ways, while the Abomination is much more focused on direct applications of power.
  • Evil Plan: Ross wants to capture Banner and reverse engineer his blood for super soldiers. As the movie progresses, Blonsky's desire for an even fight with the Hulk overtakes this plan.
  • Eye Awaken: Blonsky beginning to recover from his injuries.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Jeffries, one of the soldiers attacked by Abomination during his rampage through Harlem, tries to use his last words to tell Abomination to go fuck himself. He doesn't get it out before dying.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Bruce's primary goal during this film is to rid himself of the Hulk. Obviously, that doesn't happen (there were already plans for the character to appear in future movies, after all).
  • Fanservice:
    • When Bruce accidentally falls into the room of Martina, his co-worker at the factory while running from the military, she is in the process of changing clothes, thus in only a shirt, and the viewers are treated to some Sideboob, exposed upper chest (without showing the nips), and completely exposed legs.
    • Betty is shown in her lingerie. See also Male Gaze, Sexy Shirt Switch and Sexy Soaked Shirt below.
    • The various shirtless scenes of the male characters could also count, but Blonsky's eventually devolves into Fan Disservice after his spine starts protruding.
  • Finger-Twitching Revival: Emil Blonsky indicates his impending revival by his fingers coming to staccato life as Gen. Ross is walking away from his hospital bed. Even though his fingers are almost fully wrapped up in bandages and his whole arm and hand are in a suspension cast. Now that is a commitment to the trope.
  • Five Rounds Rapid:
  • Flashback Echo: Banner gets PTSD-esque ones from his time as the Hulk.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Betty's new boyfriend is pretty obviously Doc Samson, while the doctor working with Bruce is Samuel Sterns, destined to be The Leader. During the climax, a bit of Bruce Banner's blood falls into a head wound that Sterns has. His head then starts pulsing and expanding as he gives a sinister smile...
    • When General Ross is speaking to Blonsky:
      Ross: Let me emphasize that what I'm about to share with you is tremendously sensitive, both to me personally and the Army. You're aware that we've got an Infantry Weapons Development program. Well, in WWII, they initiated a sub-program for Bio-Tech Force Enhancement.
    • Everything about the serum is foreshadowing for Cap, especially regarding Bruce and Blonsky's experiences with it. The gamma radiation magnified the effect of the serum described in Captain America: The First Avenger, which is to magnify a person's inner attributes as well as their physical attributes, i.e. Bruce's anger issues and Blonsky's love of a good fight.
  • Freak Lab Accident: The Hulk's origin was changed to this from his comic version's exposure to a gamma bomb. Apparently he was taking some sort of genetic cocktail (designed by Betty) which allowed him to survive the exposure.
  • General Ripper: Ross shows no compunction or contemplation about weaponizing something as unruly and savage as the Hulk in order to maintain America's military might (though he likely thinks that enough research will figure out a way to get the strength without the lack of control). He also breaks a number of laws and oversteps authority, as shown in Artistic License.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: Literally, since, as noted above, the Hulk's origin was changed to reflect genetic mutation rather than pure gamma exposure. It also applies to the genetic experiments that Blonsky undergoes in his quest to become strong enough to face the Hulk.
  • Gilligan Cut: The Taxi scene is a played version of this trope. Bruce and Betty begin with him declaring that he's not going on a subway and so they go in a cab, which is even worse.
  • Glowing Eyes: Bruce sports these as the Hulk. During the climax, if you look closely you can see them glow brighter the angrier Hulk gets. Blonsky's are more Glowing Eyes of Doom, though Bruce's count as the latter from the military's perspective.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong/Gone Horribly Right: General Ross can't decide which applies to the accident that created the Hulk. On one hand, they were supposed to create a second Captain America and instead they created a monster. On the other hand, if you want super soldiers then you can hardly do better than something that's bullet proof, stronger than Captain America, and ferocious in battle; you just have to watch the rage issues. It's the same with Blonsky. Oh sure, now he's strong enough to take down the Hulk. He's also so insane by this point that no one wants him to win.
  • Guile Hero: In this film Bruce Banner is far craftier than other iterations, using disguises, stealth, and at one point swallowing a thumb drive before transforming, then vomiting it later when out of danger. The Hulk even gets in on the action, as this version makes far greater use of improvised weapons to match stronger opponents than any other.
  • Healing Factor:
    • Blonsky gains one after taking the Super Soldier Serum, which is enough to not only completely recover from having the Hulk reduce every bone in his body to gravel within a day, but to be healed in even better shape than he was in previously. In the novelization, there's a moment where he realizes that getting shot at point-blank range wouldn't even stop him, suggesting his healing abilities are greater compared to other super soldiers. This may have to do with the fact that all super soldiers seen in the MCU took different variants of the serum.
    • The Hulk is able to heal a massive gash from the Abomination into a paper cut only minutes later. Bruce has a toned-down version in human form; the full extent of it isn't shown, but the novel has Sparr note that she's never seen someone recover from a tranquilizer dart as fast as he does after the military captures him in New York.
  • Hellish Copter: Military helicopters get taken down via unconventional means twice in this film.
  • Homeless Hero: Bruce is forced to stay on the run because of the government forces chasing him. Following his transformations, Bruce is often left with nothing but the pants he is wearing. At one point, he is forced to beg in order to survive.
  • Hulk Speak: But of course; "HULK SMASH!"
  • Hulking Out: As might be expected, Banner does this when his heart rate reaches a certain threshold.
  • I Have No Son!: Betty inverts this.
    Betty: Don't ever speak to me as your daughter again.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Betty stops Hulk from strangling The Abomination to death with a chain for this reason. The novel has her almost say it verbatim.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: This is Emil Blonsky's motivation for obtaining Super Serum and Hulk Blood. This is to be expected, given that he's the Evil Counterpart to Bruce Banner.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Banner, who wants to be free of the Hulk and live a normal life again, compared to Blonsky.
  • Immune to Bullets: They literally bounce off the Hulk. Abomination shows this as well, with the novel describing him as "laughing off bullets as if he were strolling through a light summer rain".
  • Improvised Weapon: Hulk uses a police car against Blonsky to no avail.
  • In Medias Res: The Hulk's origin is conveyed in a three minute flashback sequence during the opening credits. When the film starts properly, it's several years later.
  • Interrupted Cooldown Hug: Happens during the College scene but uninterrupted in the Cave scene.
  • Ironic Echo: The earlier mentioned phrase "Is that all you've got?" is repeated by Blonsky in the final confrontation, complete with kicking and subsequent splatting. This time, the Hulk is on the receiving end.
  • Is That the Best You Can Do?: Blonsky before and after his transformation (see above).
  • Jerkass: General Ross is called out for being an ass by Samson.
  • Kick the Dog: During the raid on the favela, Blonsky shoots Banner's dog because its barking annoyed him. Thankfully, it was a tranquilizer round.
  • Latino Is Brown: While searching for Banner, Ross says to be on the look out for a white man in Brazil. He's apparently unaware that there are quite a few Brazilians who would be considered "white" by American standards, meaning he should probably be more specific.
  • Left Hanging: A lot of the characters and plot threads set up in this film haven't been mentioned in the rest of the MCU, and it doesn't seem like there's gonna be a sequel anytime soon either.
  • Living Lie Detector: As mentioned above, Doc Samson claims that he can tell when people are lying to him since he's a psychologist. He states that General Ross is lying when he says he cares more about Betty's welfare than capturing Banner.
  • Loud of War: Ross tries out sonic cannons against the Hulk.

    Tropes M to Z 
  • Magic Pants: Justified, as Bruce specifically looks for pants that can stretch just in case. The Hulk's well-known purple shorts are given a nod when Betty brings Bruce a pair of purple sweats and answers his skeptical look by saying they're the stretchiest she could find.
  • Male Gaze: During the cave scene, the viewers get a nice view of Liv Tyler's cleavage.
  • Master of Your Domain: Banner learns meditative breathing techniques from a martial arts master played by Rickson Gracie in order to suppress his transformations. Several times he's shown lowering his pulse rate, and the final scene shows him inducing a transformation through meditation (presumably because he doesn't want to have to jump out of a helicopter every time).
    • It returns as a Chekhov's Gun in The Avengers when he induces a transformation and goes from Bruce to The Hulk in the space of a second, showing his control over the process.
  • Militaries Are Useless: As they try to curb his rampage in Harlem, the Abomination / Blonsky is disappointed that they're not much of a challenge to him, and is thrilled to see Hulk charge at him knowing it'll be more "fun".
  • Mook Horror Show: General Ross sends a special ops team to capture Bruce Banner, and a trio of bullies catch up to same at the same time and decide to teach him a lesson. They both fail. This occurs in a creepy, darkened bottling plant and includes such moments as two men being dragged into the shadows while screaming, the view through a soldier's night vision goggles an instant before they short out, tranquilizer darts bouncing off and then being crushed beneath the footfalls of a green rage monster, and everyone involved freaking right the hell out.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Bruce, Bruce's martial arts teacher and Blonsky all gets a Shirtless Scene. Actually multiple in Bruce's case, even a shower scene.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Martina, as detailed in Fanservice above. She's also probably considered this in-universe, being harassed by some guys before Bruce interrupts them. Betty is repeatedly soaked in rain that turns her shirts see-through.
  • Mugging the Monster: The douchebag factory workers who try to rough up Bruce at the beginning.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The scene in which the Hulk tears a car in half and uses the pieces as impromptu boxing gloves is a direct nod to the "Steel Fists" move in the video game The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. He also uses the Sonic Clap and Earthquake Smash moves, both from the same game.
    • In one of the behind-the-scenes videos, it's mentioned that the scene where Abomination throws cars aside in Harlem shortly before fighting the Hulk is a reference to the Abomination Alley issue in the comics.
    • There are a lot of nods to the The Incredible Hulk (1977), to the point numerous commentators have remarked the film comes off as a big-budgeted adaptation of the series, with more action and comic elements, more than it does the comics.
      • During the montage of Bruce's travels after his Hulk Out in the factory, the film's score uses cues from "The Lonely Man," the ending theme of the TV series. Bill Bixby (that version's Banner) even makes a "cameo" from beyond the grave, via a clip from his earlier series The Courtship Of Eddie's Father playing on a television near the beginning.
      • Also, when said Hulk Outs occur, his eyes turn green, just like in the series.
      • The film's poster, which shows Bruce walking away with a bag slung over his shoulder, is very similar to a shot from the series of David walking away after seeing his own empty grave. Even the clothes Bruce is wearing are similar, just with a different color scheme.
      • When Bruce is hitchhiking in the rain after Betty sees him, the score plays a few lonely piano notes in another homage to "The Lonely Man."
      • During the last scene we see Bruce in, he opens mail addressed to "David B." In the series, Banner went by "David" and not "Bruce." note 
      • Lou Ferrigno, the Hulk to Bixby's Banner, makes a genuine cameo as a security guard. He also provides the Hulk's voice.
      • The device Banner exposes himself to in the flashback of his origin is virtually identical to the one used in the TV show. Also, aside from the addition of a few glimpses of his Love Interest, the origin flashback is a shot-for-shot recreation of the TV series' opening-credits sequence, right down to the clothes Norton wears. The laboratory setting for the Hulk's origin and the equipment therein are also the same, right down to the targeting light creeping across Banner's face.
      • One of the students who witnesses the fight at the university is named Jack McGee, described as a reporter for the student paper, a reference to the investigative reporter from the TV series.
      • The university is named Culver University, a shout out to the Culver Institute in the live action series.
      • In stumbling Portuguese, Banner begs a trio of Brazilian toughs, "Don't make me... hungry. You wouldn't like me when I'm ... hungry" — a playful reference to the famous line from the Hulk TV series, featured in its opening credits.
      • When Banner is begging in the Guatemalan marketplace, a short excerpt from "The Lonely Man", aka the "Banner walking away at the end of an episode" music from the TV series, plays.
    • When Ross' team is tracking Bruce's correspondence to Mr. Blue, his email runs through a database that briefly flashes the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo. The Mr. Green/Mr. Blue email correspondence itself is a reference to the comics written by Bruce Jones around 2003/2004.
    • The strike team isn't sure if the Hulk is green or grey in the dark, a reference to the coloring issue in the original comic that led to the Hulk's current color. Also, during the cave scene, the lightning flashes make his skin look gray.
    • The cave scene was inspired by an issue of Hulk Gray. The disc releases also contain a motion comic showing this scene.
    • The other student being interviewed is Jim Wilson, the Hulk's former Kid Sidekick and The Falcon's nephew.
      • Similarly, the novelization identifies the student in the computer lab as Amadeus Cho, now better known as Hercules' buddy.
    • Paul Soles played Bruce Banner in The Marvel Super Heroes and Spider-Man in Spider-Man (1967), now is the pizzeria owner Stan.
    • Blonsky's slide into madness after taking the serum mirrors that of the 1950s Captain America. In fact, since the Captain America movie is in the same continuity as this one, it's entirely possible that the serum that is given to Blonsky is precisely the same one. It's stated in Captain America: The First Avenger that the super serum strengthens the user's main personality traits. For Cap, it was his heroism, for Red Skull, it was his evilness, and for Blonsky, it was his love of fighting. This is confirmed in The Avengers, where it's also mentioned that Bruce's accident was the result of attempting to recreate Erskine's work by using gamma radiation instead of Erskine's vita rays. It's possible therefore in this continuity, Banner also took a version of the serum which brought out his repressed anger.
    • The Super Soldier Serum used in the movie is shown to have been developed by an organization known as Weapon Plus. Weapon Plus had several programs working on supersoldiers, the most famous being Weapon X. In the comics, Captain America was Weapon One. Wolverine was Weapon Ten.
    • Shortly after they go on the run together, Betty gives Banner a pair of purple shorts, saying, "they were the stretchiest pair I could find."
    • The cryonic storage capsule holding the "super soldier serum" is labeled with the name "Dr. Reinstein", the original name of the doctor who gave Captain America his abilities in the comics. It's not just a gag. It's foreshadowing.
    • The package from the pawn shop which contains Betty's pendant is addressed to "David B.", referencing the TV series' Banner, whose first name was "David".
    • General Ross makes several references to Banner being on the run for five years — the time between this film and the earlier 2003 Hulk film.
    • During the opening credits, one of the list of people suspected to have contact with Banner is "Richard Jones".
    • In the novelization, the woman Bruce sees Betty talking to when he returns to Culver is Marlo Chandler, Rick Jones' girlfriend and a supporting character in the comics.
    • "Hulk smash!"
    • When Bruce sneaks his way into the university laboratory, we see a student with whom he shared his pizza. In the novelization, the student identifies himself as Amadeus Cho, a supporting character for Hulk and Hercules.
    • We see the creation of the Hulk villain Leader, created when the Applied Phlebotinum goes into the scientist's head. Probable Sequel Hook.
    • Similarly, Betty's boyfriend is obviously a pre-mutated Doc Samson. According to the novelization, yup, he is.
    • And at the very end, the movie's continuity is cemented with the appearance of Tony Stark.
    • "Stark Industries" is written on the rocket launcher.
  • Neck Lift:
    • Blonsky lifts Sterns up by the chest, but the same principle.
    • Hulk does the traditional variant to two soldiers at the soft drink plant battle.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: A detailed timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe reveals that the events of this film take place in 2011, as the film was released in 2008.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Had Emil not been injected with a super soldier serum, that kick from the Green Machine would most certainly have killed him.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Justified. In the original comics, Emil Blonsky was from Russia and was a KGB agent. In the movie, Blonsky was still born in Russia, but he's said to have been raised in England and served in the British Royal Marines. This allows Tim Roth to use his natural accent.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: In the novelization, Bruce realizes this about himself and Blonsky.
    In a dark, twisted, and even sick way, Blonsky was not dissimilar from Banner, because Banner had likewise been willing to take tremendous risks in the pursuit of knowledge. The difference was that Banner had taken those risks for the betterment of mankind, whereas Blonsky was interested in doing so purely for self-gratification.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Bruce hulks out in São Paulo, Brazil, and wakes up in Guatemala. The Hulk ran nearly 5000 miles across at least 5 countries in one night.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • After Bruce jumps out of the helicopter and realizes he can't Hulk Out. "SH-"
    • "Test subjects?!?"
  • Le Parkour: One of the chase sequences involves Banner doing this to avoid pursuit.
  • Pietà Plagiarism: At the battle on the college campus, The Hulk saves Betty, then he carries her away.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: "HULK... SMASH!" He proceeds to do so to the Abomination in about twelve different ways.
  • Protagonist Title: The Incredible Hulk.
  • Psycho Serum: This is a Zigzag. The two injections Blonsky takes during the movie are Super Serum that make him more able and driven but also less stable and more obsessed with a rematch with the Hulk. When this first Psycho Serum combines with Bruce Banner's own gamma-enhanced blood samples, it finally crosses him over into The Abomination and causes him to lose whatever remnants of morality he had left (he goes on a rampage across Harlem, killing dozens if not hundreds of innocent bystanders, for no viable reason other than enslavement to madness).
  • Punched Across the Room: More like "Kicked Across The Field Into A Tree", but what else can you expect as a regular-sized person going up against The Hulk? Super-Soldier or not, Blonsky plus Hulk foot equals SPLAT.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: "Is that all you've got?"
  • Remake Cameo: Like with the 2003 movie, Lou Ferrigno plays a security guard (this time interacting with Bruce Banner himself). And in a variant, a clip of Bill Bixby (a scene from The Courtship of Eddie's Father) is featured at a certain point to feature both protagonists of the old show.
  • The Reveal: The very ending shows Banner consciously inducing a Hulk episode, but cuts off immediately, leaving the circumstances and Banner's new direction ambiguous. In the Avengers movie, Banner reveals that anger management isn't much of an issue anymore, and he is in a constant state of Tranquil Fury. He can control the Hulk transformation to some extent, and the Hulk himself is slightly tamer, less mindless, and more amenable to cooperation with others.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Try watching this movie after The Avengers and look for the Worldbuilding references (i.e., the Super-soldier serum and the Stark Industries-designed weapons). It's a very different experience from watching it before the Avengers.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: Doc Samson is an all-around nice guy who just had the bad luck of dating Betty Ross when the love of her life walked back into town. For the most part, he doesn't begrudge Banner for it either, mostly because the Hulk saved Betty's life from General Ross's goons.
  • Rule of Three: Emil Blonsky fights the Hulk three times. ...And loses three times.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Betty receives little characterization beyond being Bruce's love interest.
  • Save the Villain: At the climax, Betty talks Hulk out of strangling Blonsky to death.
  • Scenery Porn: The flyover shots of the Brazilian hillside slums at the beginning of the movie.
  • Screams Like A Girl: Sterns lets out a high-pitched scream when Blonsky shows up. Lampshaded by Bruce in the novelization.
  • Sell What You Love: When Bruce and Betty become fugitives and need money, Betty has to sell her precious necklace, which is a keepsake of her late mother. Thankfully, Bruce manages to get it back to her at the end of the movie.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • The same genetic cocktail that created the Abomination seeps into a wound on Dr. Samuel Sterns forehead, causing his transformation into the Leader. Where exactly this will end up now is unknown, since a direct sequel can't happen (Universal holds the rights to Solo-Hulk films), though the fate of Samuel Sterns was given in the lead-in comic for The Avengers, Fury's Big Week.
    • In the final scene, Tony Stark mentions that he is "putting a team together", which meant that it was probably a sequel hook to The Avengers movie (which was an idea when it was first made.)
    • The final shot is Bruce Hulking Out by willpower alone, foreshadowing something that happens in The Avengers.
  • Sexy Shirt Switch: Betty gets one, though without the sex part. More like before, or an attempt. See Can't Have Sex, Ever above.
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: Betty chases after Bruce in the rain, resulting in this.
  • Shirtless Scene:
    • Other than the Walking Shirtless Scene of the Hulk, Bruce himself gets plenty of shirtless scenes throughout the movie.
    • Blonsky gets a few, particularly when he is taking the serum, and when in hospital.
    • During the scene in the Mexican market, a shirtless guy wearing a backpack is in the foreground, browsing the stalls.
  • Shockwave Stomp: "Hulk... SMASH!"
  • Snowy Screen of Death: Occurs when the Abomination drops a car on the soldiers that had been tailing it, cutting off Ross' video link.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Blonsky starts out as a mild example. He tranqs a dog because it annoyed him but is otherwise a functional individual. Then things get worse.
  • Spiritual Successor: Originally, this movie could be seen as a straight-up sequel to the 2003 movie that simply changes/adjusts aspects of the backstory à la Evil Dead 2 or Superman Returns. For instance, it handwaves the opening as an inaccurate nightmare that Banner is having. However, as of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the '03 movie is definitely out-of-continuity with this one because in that movie, Glenn Talbot died as well as being quite different in portrayalnote ; his absence here could be given a Handwave before then, but now that he's appeared alive and well in the MCU there is no way to consider this anything more than a Spiritual Successor.
    • Except for the left hanging questions that would only make sense if you connect them to the origin story of the 2003 Hulk movie like when Tony Stark states that Bruce shouldn't have survived the radiation accident and since there hasn't been any proper elaboration on that question it's safe to say that the 2003 continuity can still exist in some sort of way. The introduction of the multiverses in Avengers: Endgame somewhat help with that argument.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • The Sikorsky MH-53 helicopter used by Ross has a nickname; the "Jolly Green Giant".
    • In the final scene:
      General Ross: Stark, you always wear such nice suits.
  • Superhuman Trafficking: Bruce/Hulk are "property" of the US because of the gamma blood in their system.
  • Super-Reflexes: The Hulk slaps RPGs out of the air. Blonsky is faster as a super soldier, and after his transformation into the Abomination he catches an RPG as an Offhand Backhand.
  • Super-Senses: Blonsky has a moment in the novelization where he's able to hear a jet on the runway all the way from the locker room, and later complains about the noise to a fellow soldier.
  • Super-Speed: Blonsky casually outpaces several soldiers while running. The Hulk and the Abomination can keep up with Humvees.
  • Super-Strength: Duh, it's a Hulk movie.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: After finding out that Banner is hiding in Rio de Janeiro, Ross tells his agents to be on the lookout for "a white man" in the soda factory he works at. No other description is given, even though it'd be really helpful considering that Rio has millions of people matching that description.
  • Swallow the Key: Having lost his computer the last time he was chased, when the Army attacks Bruce at the University campus, Bruce swallows an important data stick so he won't risk losing it or letting it fall into the wrong hands. Amazingly, it still works after he... retrieves it (considering what he does to retain it, it's very possible he made sure he obtained one rated for being extremely rugged and resistant to damage).
  • Takes One to Kill One: When the U.S. military can't do anything to hinder Blonsky's rampage, Ross is forced to allow Hulk to take down Blonsky.
  • Tap on the Head: Blonsky does this twice, to Banner and then a female colleague.
  • Tastes Like Friendship: Banner wants to go into a library guarded by a security guard. So how does he get in? He masquerades as a pizza delivery boy and gives the guard a whole pizza.
  • Technological Pacifist: Banner. Ross seems to imply that this position is common in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that "scientists" are not to be trusted with military matters in any way, shape, or form.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Emil Blonsky deserves special mention. He held his own in a battle with Hulk, mainly because of how quick he was, due to the super soldier serum he'd been given. After he and the rest of his military division have thrown everything they have at Hulk, and he is still walking, Ross tells Blonsky to fall back. Blonsky then rips off his earpiece, drops his gun and attempts to stare down the Hulk, saying "Is that all you've got?" Cue Hulk-powered thrust kick to the chest, followed by being smooshed all over a tree. Said smooshing breaks every bone in his body, which would have killed him if not for the super soldier serum.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: There was a TV spot that spoiled Robert Downey Jr.'s cameo as Tony Stark towards the end of the film.
  • Transhuman Abomination: Banner's blood reacting with the supersoldier serum in Blonsky's body creates the Abomination, a muscular and horrifically deformed creature that is the Hulk's equal in almost every way.
  • Troubled Fetal Position: Banner enters this after a particularly nasty Flashback Echo hits him in the bath.
  • Tuckerization: The military base, "Fort Johnson", is named after Kenneth Johnson; the writer, director, and producer of The Incredible Hulk (1977).
  • Unstoppable Rage: This is Hulk's main superpower, though it seems more centered on general heart rate (the "Hulk rate" being 200 BPM) than rage this time around, and can be released initially by extreme stress.
  • Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight: There's a form of this with Hulk versus the Abomination. The former is the meek scientist Bruce Banner with an inferior version of the Captain America formula combined with genetic primers and gamma radiation. The latter is the veteran marine Emile Blonsky with a more advanced version of the formula and the Hulk's blood. Consequently the Abomination is larger and stronger, not to mention Blonsky's in complete control despite being crazy. The Hulk has the advantage of getting stronger with rage and greater intelligence which wins him the fight when Blonsky turns on Betty and Ross.
  • Vertigo Effect: Two vertigo effects right after another appear showing Ross and Blonsky's reactions when Banner turns into the Hulk on the college campus.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Even before the treatment, Blonsky notes that "if I could take everything I know now and put it in the body I had ten years ago, that would be something I wouldn't want to face." His second encounter with the Hulk (after he's been enhanced but before he becomes the Abomination) shows that he's smaller and weaker but more agile and has greater skill. This is in comparison to the Hulk. He's outrunning soldiers YEARS younger. It's only when he stops and tries to stare the Hulk down that he gets splatted.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Doc Samson chews out General Ross after Betty got caught in the crossfire at the College.
    Doc Samson: He protected her. You almost killed her!
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: In the beginning, Blonsky seems like an overly gung-ho soldier but a relatively decent guy who's loyal to his work and his men, but after doses of failed super-soldier serum he slowly goes more and more power mad, until he goes completely destructively insane in the end. A deleted scene emphasizes the potential for mental instability as a byproduct of the serum. Prior to the injection, Ross outright threatens to remove Blonsky from active duty if he takes a step out of line.
  • Worthy Opponent: Subverted. Emil Blonsky views the Hulk this way and goes out of his way to become strong enough to face him in combat but when he finally reaches that level in the end, he decides that Bruce doesn't deserve his power.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Blonsky tosses Betty across the room and knocks out a female colleague from behind.
  • X Days Since: Used at least twice, at both the start and the end of the film, measuring how many days had passed since the Hulk made an appearance.
  • Younger Than They Look: Due to battle stress, Blonsky is only 39 years old but looks like he's in his late 40s (at the time of filming, Tim Roth was 46).
  • You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry!:
    • Given that this is an adaptation of the Trope Namer, of course this makes an appearance. It's rather cleverly inserted too, as Bruce messes up the line while speaking Portuguese.
      Bruce: [in Portuguese] You wouldn't like me when I'm... hungry? [in English] Wait, that doesn't sound right.
    • The trailer (and the deleted scene it came from) also had a variation on the phrase which was pretty good.
      Bruce: There are aspects of my personality that I can't control, and when I lose control, it's very dangerous to be around me.
  • Zen Slap: Played With. When Banner is hiding out in South America, he's shown meditating with a Sensei. Sensei slaps him, which is relevant as Norton is trying to learn how to keep his emotions and temper under control.

"I hear you have an unusual problem."


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Incredible Hulk


Stan Lee [The Incredible Hulk]

Stan lee cameos as an old man that died from ingesting Bruce Banner's blood, giving the Hulkbusters a clue of his whereabouts.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheCameo

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