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     The Film 
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Is David Banner truly remorseful of his actions? His second confrontation with Betty seems to indicate yes, but his actions during the rest of the film suggest that this admission of guilt is insincere. Fueling the latter interpretation is Peter David's novelization, which confirms that David is merely attempting to elicit sympathy.
  • Audience-Alienating Premise: A big reason why the film has such a divisive reception. Though audiences were probably more familiar with the various cartoon adaptations and the 1978 TV show than the original comics, drama is nothing new to the Hulk mythos. However, no one expected the idea of a Hulk movie where he's in less than two-thirds of the film and takes a backseat to a slow-paced, dead-serious, reflective, and symbolic drama centered on Daddy Issues. Combined with tonal and pacing issues, bits of over-the-top superhero action, and out-of-place energetic and gimmicky comic book style editing, the film didn't help win over an audience expecting a more action-packed blockbuster.
  • Awesome Music:
    • "Set Me Free," the first song released from what would eventually become the Super Group Velvet Revolver.
    • Danny Elfman's score counts as well, especially the musical cues after the army captures Bruce.
    • To advertise it's air time on the TV channel USA Network; they used a catchy cover of Fred Schneider's classic Monster that is unfortunately lost.
  • Base-Breaking Character: David Banner. Some think that he's quite dark and scary; others see Nick Nolte being too narmy.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • The "puny human" scene where the Hulk bursts out of Bruce's mirror made for a fantastic teaser trailer and makes sense as broad symbolism of the conflict between Bruce's fears and psychoses. It was included in the movie... in the middle of a fall off a fighter plane. The Hulk was dreaming it, but it makes no sense in the context of the fighter jet attack.
    • The fighter jet attack itself. It comes out of nowhere, is never mentioned again, and contributes very little to the plot. Either it is a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment or Padding.
    • Betty tells Bruce about a nightmare she had. It begins with a memory of her as a little girl eating ice cream with her father, only for him to have to leave her there when he receives an alarm from his base. Betty panics from being left alone, and a bright green mushroom cloud booms behind her. Then an ice cream parlor worker shows up, only to be suddenly revealed to be adult Bruce, who strangles her. The end. While David's flashback later in the film has Edith seeing the green mushroom cloud, everything else is unexplained.
  • Broken Base: The film did alright with critics but was ultimately a box office bust. It broke even and had a "sequel"/reboot made five years later. It was (in)famous for the backlash that accompanied its release, especially when someone leaked a full cut for download to much nerd rage. Surprisingly, despite the reboot taking the opposite track, both films did almost the same with critics and financially (though the reboot has a far higher IMDB rating), which may be a measure of how popular the character is in the mainstream. Nonetheless, the 2003 film is slowly becoming something of a Cult Classic in certain circles; whatever else you can say about it, it's certainly not a film people feel neutral about.
  • Can't Un-Hear It: Those who heavily admire this film over the Marvel Cinematic Universe tend to hear Eric Bana as Bruce Banner, Jennifer Connelly as Betty Ross, Nick Nolte as Brian Banner, and Sam Elliott as General Ross.
  • Complete Monster: In Peter David's novelization, Dr. David Banner lacks all of his film counterpart's genuinely sympathetic or redeeming traits, replacing them with purely selfish evil. To try to perfect a super-soldier serum, he tested it on himself, which leads to David infecting his newborn son Bruce with a strange disease that comes out in full when the boy gets angry—fascinated by this development, David subjects Bruce to a variety of experiments, from emotionally and physically abusing the boy to harvesting his blood for more experiments. Disgusted that he has started to care for Bruce, David eventually tries to stab the boy to death for "ruining his life" after he is fired for his experiments. He shrugs off his accidental murder of his wife Edith, later using it as a sob story to manipulate others. Once exposed, David tries to blow up his entire workplace, uncaring that the explosion could go nuclear and kill countless innocents. After being released from a mental institution decades later, he murders several people while tracking down Bruce and tries to have Bruce's Love Interest Betty ripped to shreds by mutant dogs. Gaining powers of his own, he hopes to drain Bruce of his gamma radiation and life, then use his new abilities to become a god and kill all those who slighted him.
  • Critical Backlash: Many reviews at the time of its release complained about the lack of action. As the years went by, people look at the film in a better light.
  • Critical Dissonance: It's fascinating to view this compared to The Incredible Hulk in how people received it. This film is generally considered long and boring by regular moviegoers; however, the critics liked its focus on character pieces and big ideas over CGI and violence. The '08 film had many fans agreeing with the critics, but some lamented how the new movie took away the big ideas to put in more action and typical comics stuff. Besides all of that information, both films did about the same at the box office.
  • Cult Classic: While many people still pan the film, it does have its fair share of defenders who praise its dark, psychological approach to Bruce Banner's character and consider it superior to The Incredible Hulk.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: The dark tone can be unsettling for people who are more accustomed to the standard superhero films that became popular in the late 2000s.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Nick Nolte's David Banner looks like and behaves similarly to Charles Manson, especially considering his ruthlessness and goal to fight the government and world order.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Edith Banner seems to be the only adult that Bruce looked up to before her tragic death.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Major Talbot, thanks to the fact that Josh Lucas portrays him.
  • Fandom Rivalry: With the MCU's depiction of Bruce Banner.
  • Faux Symbolism: The movie frequently cuts to closeups of moss. That's right, moss. The only hint we get about it on the DVD Commentary is that moss is green like the Hulk.
  • Friendly Fandoms:
    • There's some overlap between fans of this film and fans of the DC Extended Universe who like this film for its unconventional take on the superhero genre and its ambition, earnest treatment of its title character, and more artistic directing style. A few DCEU fans have even said that, if Ben Affleck ever leaves, they'd love to see Eric Bana have a go at playing Batman.
  • Funny Moments: Despite the dark tone, the film does have some humor to it. An example is after the Squicky frog scene:
    Bruce: You wanna go to the review board on Monday and tell them we've developed a brand-new method for exploding frogs?
    Betty: Yeah. I think maybe there's a market for it. I mean, what if there's a plague?
    Bruce: What have you had, Betty, like, one beer?
    Betty: I'm just... I'm just saying, you know, frogs start falling from the sky, who do they come to? We'd be world-renowned.
    • Another is Ross being a Deadpan Snarker:
      Betty: Yes, I'm aware of the potential danger. I'm also aware that he saved my life.
      Ross: Yeah, from a mutant French poodle. I'm indebted to him for that.
    • When Hulk arrives in San Francisco, his jump goes noticed by a bypassing car. The car instantly stops right afterward, the driver most certainly going "wait a minute, what the hell?".
  • Ham and Cheese: Nick Nolte, particularly during his Humans Are Bastards speech.
    STOP...WHAT?! STOP!! WHAT?!! THINK about all those...MEN out there in their UNIFORMS! BARKING and SWALLOWING ORDERS, inflicting their petty rule of the entire globe! THINK ABOUT ALL THE HARM THEY'VE DONE!! TO YOU! TO ME! TO HUMANITY! And know this, that we can make THEM, and their FLAGS and ANTHEMS and GOVERNMENTS - DISAPPEAR!!! IN A FLASH! You - in me! [...] Then, indeed you shall die...and be REBORN...a hero! OF THE KIND THAT WALKED EARTH, LONG BEFORE THE PALE RELIGIONS OF CIVILIZATION, INFECTED HUMANITY'S SOUL!!!
  • He Really Can Act:
    • Sam Elliott's performance as General Ross has been praised by those who didn't care for the film.
    • Eric Bana has also received wide praise for his performance in the title role.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: David Banner gains Absorbing Man-esque powers and nearly kills his son in the climax. Some time later, the actual Absorbing Man(Carl Creel) met Bruce's comic-father(Brian Banner)...and admitted he was repulsed by what a monster Bruce's dad was, going so far as to express sympathy for his green-skinned nemesis.
  • It Was His Sled: David Banner eventually became a cross between Absorbing Man and Zzzax, now it is not worth mentioning.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Even though David Banner has caused much chaos, he regrets some of it and wants people to care about his work.
  • Love to Hate: David Banner, who doesn't care about experimenting on himself and his dogs who is also an almighty elemental.
  • Misaimed Marketing: The movie had TONS of kid-friendly tie-ins such as pudding, ice cream, board games, and Hulk Hands to a very angsty and depressing adaptation. Fifteen years later, a fan averted this.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "You wouldn't like me when I'm Ang Lee." A pun on the director.
    • David Banner biting into the cable is quite a popular meme.
  • Moral Event Horizon: David Banner using Bruce as his guinea pig for his experiments and, after Ross throws him off the project, triggering a nuclear explosion of the military lab (and it's strongly implied the explosion took many lives and caused people to abandon the entire town), then trying to kill Bruce and accidentally killing his wife instead—all in front of Bruce.
  • Narm:
    • Nick Nolte Chewing the Scenery, and the Goofy-esque sounds he makes while being electrocuted.
    • Talbot's freeze-frame death! The Agony Booth dubbed it The Single Most Gloriously Stupid Image Ever Captured on Film, while The Nostalgia Critic dubbed it "Guy Flying Over Fireball Looking Like A Twat."
    • Ross suddenly letting out a random yell during one scene. It isn't poorly acted, but it does just come out of nowhere.
      Ross: But I don't set policy...and I still take orders. ...GR'YAAAAHHH!!! I can't believe Talbot would go around me like this!
    • The Hulk Dogs would be a tiny bit more threatening if one of their ranks wasn't a French poodle.
  • Nausea Fuel: The unconventional editing can make some people cringe.
  • Older Than They Think: Many people believed that dark superhero films began with The Dark Knight Trilogy, but this film and the Blade Trilogy actually started it years before.
  • One-Scene Wonder: As always, Stan Lee.
  • Popularity Polynomial: Although Hulk was quickly forgotten, the releases of The Incredible Hulk and Logan made people give it another chance.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Daniel Dae Kim as a military member.
  • Scapegoat Creator: Ang Lee and James Schamus, the primary screenwriter, got some hate during the film's release.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: The film used cutting-edge editing techniques that resemble a comic book, but this was more well-known in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
  • Shocking Moments: David Banner's transformation by the end of the film.
  • Signature Scene:
    • The Hulk grabbing Bruce from the mirror as he says to him, "puny human." It shows a loss of self-control.
    • David Banner biting into the cable and becoming a giant being of electricity.
    • The desert battle.
  • Slow-Paced Beginning: It takes 40 minutes for the Hulk to even show up.
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • Despite all the effort and detail put into the character, many fans feel that the Hulk's appearance in this film is very lackluster. Some have even said he looks like a PlayStation 2 character, with most of the derision aimed towards the shade of green used for Hulk's skin and Ang Lee's motion capture looking floaty during some of the more massive set pieces. Luckily, Industrial Light and Magic would get another chance with the character almost a decade later.
    • On the other hand, the Hulk Dogs never stood a chance with the early 2000s CGI used for the film.
    • Talbot's aforementioned freeze-frame death.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: Many people think of this as a God of War film due to the profound Greek tragedy and Freudian atmosphere.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Talbot was seen as appealing compared to his comic book version but died by the second half of the film.
  • Too Cool to Live: Again, Talbot.
  • True Art Is Angsty: The film's dark tone and psychodrama are part of what makes it divisive; its defenders strongly feel that these aspects make it a more worthwhile and engaging flick than a lot of superhero movies, which are more focused on blockbuster action and comedy.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: Some viewers were quite confused by the more artistic views than other comic book films.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • Hulk's green CGI skin was completely opaque, which unsettled a lot of people.
    • The gamma dogs can make some cringe.
  • Uncertain Audience: Ultimately the film's downfall. It was a movie that was too artsy and somber for your typical superhero audience. Yet, the fact that it was about a superhero in the first place alienated serious viewers who might have otherwise been interested in the film's more cerebral and artistic merits.
  • Unexpected Character: In this case, unexpected transformation for David.
  • Vindicated by History: A unique example. The film still got a bad IMDB rating (usually only around 6), but many hardcore comic book fans and amateur movie critics have started to praise the film's good qualities aside from the score. Some positives include the movie's analogy on Hulk's virtually unlimited strength in the last action scene, where Bruce defeated his father by releasing a massive amount of gamma energy, turning him into a large bubble). The movement has been there since at least 2006. If anything, the success of similarly dark and serious superhero films like The Dark Knight and Logan have led some commentators to view Hulk as ahead of its time.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The editing style is beyond magnificent and unique.
  • Wangst: One of the film's criticisms was that there was too much of this and not enough smashing.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Given the film's subject matter and dark themes, it is quite surprising that it got a mere PG-13 and is equally intense as Logan.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?:
    • Among other things, the nuclear explosion associated with the classic Hulk origin is alluded to by the nuclear self-destruct going off when David kills Bruce's mother in front of him — the moment the Hulk was truly born.
    • The toy dog in the prologue represents happy memories while the gamma dogs represent the intense revelations of what truly happened.
    • The ending also involves the four classical elements: Earth, air, fire, and water. David transforms into an electrical being and fights the Hulk in the form of a thunderstorm (air), then melds with a mountain (earth), and then turns into a watery being in the nearby lake (water). The Hulk, as a source of energy and heat in that scene, with a fiery green aura at one point, would identify with fire.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: The split-screen visuals and symbolism can feel quite trippy.
  • The Woobie: Bruce Banner has been through so much suffering for thirty years and wonders when it will truly end, even when Betty Ross is around.

     The Game 
  • Author's Saving Throw: There are plenty.
  • Awesome Music: "A Different Breed," "Savior," "One and All," and "The Final Battle" are all awesome battle themes that one shouldn't overlook when smashing up the bad guys.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • The Gamma Soldiers and androids you face will be your most hated enemies in the game thanks to their tanky defense, hard-knocking punches, and gamma blasters that can make short work of you.
    • The Gamma dogs were quite a bitch to fight as the Hulk, but when playing as Bruce, it's a necessity to avoid confrontation with them at all costs, lest you want them to rip you to shreds in an instant.
  • Game-Breaker: A cheat code makes the Hulk kill his enemies and the bosses in one blow.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games/No Problem with Licensed Games: Whichever category the tie-in game falls into depends on who you ask:
    • Points towards the former include weak segments as Banner, mostly corridor-based level design, and a somewhat disjointed storyline.
    • Points toward the latter include the very comic book-esque look, challenging levels, simple-but-fun gameplay, and the Catharsis Factor.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: While the Banner stages are considered the weaker parts of the game, the hacking minigame is easily the most hated part. You have 20 seconds to match up the bottom code string with the one on top, and it only gets more challenging in the later stages.
  • Vindicated by History: The game has later been regarded as an influence to an even more iconic Hulk game made by the same developers two years later.
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