After the massive success of Bryan Singer’s X-Men and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man revitalized a genre that Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin had placed on life support, dozens of comic book adaptations were almost instantly placed into active development at every major studio in Hollywood.
As a result, it took the superhero blockbuster a while to find its footing, resulting in a handful of accomplished efforts, several notable misfires, and a couple of misunderstood movies emerging in the aftermath.
Ang Lee’s Hulk fell firmly into the latter camp, delivering the sort of meditative and ambitious story coated in effects-driven excess that we’re unlikely to see again on such a scale, now that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has set the template the majority of contemporary titles follow.
There’s no doubt that Lee is one of the most accomplished filmmakers in the business, but Hulk is messy. Universal funneled almost $140 million into the production only to get an intimate family drama, an examination of how a broken childhood home can impact an adult life, the ways in which the sins of the father define the son, and a thought-provoking monster movie with mythological trappings, albeit one where a giant green man in purple shorts fights a trio of radioactive dogs.
It’s all very strange, then, but that hasn’t stopped Hulk from appearing out of nowhere to claim streaming success, with FlixPatrol reporting that it’s crashed right into Hulu’s Top 10 most-watched list.