Who Was The Best Hulk?

February 17, 2013 12:00 pm

The Incredible HulkMarvel has come a long way over the last few decades, arguably none more so than The Incredible Hulk. The Hulk is a tough character to translate into a film, seeing as he is little more than a rampaging monster. Sure, there is a Jekyll and Hyde element to the character, but it is difficult to translate that into a comic book movie, which relies on prolonged actions scenes and fun characters.

We have had the Hulk hit the big screen three times now, each shown to us by various actors. It seems that no one can hold down the role. But who was the best Bruce Banner? I broke down the three actors’ representations of this iconic character in order to try and decipher the answer.


The first Hulk film was truly awful. Ang Lee completely dropped the ball with this film, taking a fun, comic book character and trying to scientifically unravel his origin story. We didn’t want to see that from a character who is best suited to tearing up America Godzilla-style. Despite all of the flaws of the film though, Eric Bana isn’t necessarily to blame.

Eric Bana is good at playing intense, yet calm personas, something that Banner needs to achieve to get his character across. He is also quite a physically strong character, so we could see a bit of the Hulk in him at all times. Sadly, despite doing his best as an actor, the script and director lets him down, putting him at the bottom of the pile. Part of me did want to see him take up the role in the sequel, although it is easy to understand why he stayed away from that film.


This film restored balance in the franchise. It wasn’t an amazing film, but we only ever really wanted average from the character: two hours of fun and nothing more. Edward Norton, physically, is the best guy for the job. Whereas Bana is all muscle, Norton is the complete contrast of the Hulk: skinny, fairly sickly looking and can pull off observant well. He just looks the part. He suits Banner from the comics, really adding a bit more to that character. And of course, when it comes to handling a split personality and dangerous sickness, Norton has more experience in that category than anyone.


However, Ruffalo wins the race to the best Hulk with his performance in ‘Avengers Assemble’. This is Banner, on the run for several years: he is smart, scruffy and has an eerie calm to him. The best thing about his performance however, was just the subtle anger that was barely controlled under the surface of his composure. Ruffalo really let the audience believe that he could let the rage get the better of him at any given moment. It is a trait best kept subtle with Banner, something Ruffalo understood. All he had to was raise his voice that fraction higher, put the right stress on a syllable and the audience were shifting uncomfortably in their seats.

It’s not just the anger. There is a really subtle sense that Ruffalo’s Banner, partially is enjoying being back in the action. He keeps up with the banter (not easy to do around Tony Stark), and always seems to be hiding a smile. Sure, he has spent ages avoiding people and society, yet it does feel good to be back in a team atmosphere again, being wanted for his scientific knowledge. Avengers Assemble boasted an incredible cast of actors at the top of their game: Mark Ruffalo was the best out of everyone on that film.

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