In 1977, Universal Television had the rights to several Marvel Comics characters, and Kenneth Johnson had the opportunity to create one. Johnson had risen to fame as a writer/producerThe Six Million Dollar Man, and created the character of Jaime Somers, which later became his own series,The bionic woman, for which Johnson was the showrunner.
Inspired in part byVictor Hugo'sThe miserable, Johnson decided to take on the Hulk.
Johnson made several changes due to a stated disdain for the comics medium, including changing the character's name from Bruce Banner to David Banner. (There are different stories as to why it was changed; the most popular being that Bruce was labeled "too gay" by the network, but Johnson himself said in a 2006 interview that he was moving away from the Stan Lee brand of alliterative names wanted. , P. , Reed Richards, Peter Parker, J. Jonah Jameson, Scott Summers, etc.) Many of these changes were made to improve television, particularly in the late 1970s on a budget: Hulk was less powerful than its comic book counterpart, and the accident that Banner turned into was more of a low-key lab experiment than a nuclear bomb test. (That's as much the passage of time as anything else. The Hulk was created in 1962 before theLimited Test Ban Treatywas signed, ending US ground-based bomb testing, and 1977 was the culmination of the "No Nuclear Weapons" movement. Johnson's Hulk didn't speak either, he had the same vocabulary of growls and growls as the film version ofFrankensteins Monster. Stan Lee himself approved of this particular change, feeling that the comic book version of "Hulk Smash!" the dialogue would sound silly if it came from a real person's mouth.
The Hulk's supporting cast was also eliminated: no Rick Jones, Thunderbolt Ross, Betty Ross, Major Talbot, Doc Samson, and the only other recurring character is Jack McGee, a reporter obsessed with discovering the truth about the Hulk. . (There is theel mizinfluence…)
Universal ordered two TV movies as pilots that aired on CBS in the fall of 1977. They were so successful that they went on stream in the spring of 1978 with the first season as two-part episodesThe Return of the Incredible Hulkentitled "Death in the Family" for syndication purposes.
"It was me and it wasn't me..."
The incredible Hulk
Written, directed and produced by Kenneth Johnson
Original release date: November 4, 1977
We begin with a montage of happy moments between husband and wife: David and Laura Banner. Their marital bliss is tragically cut short by a car accident. Banner is thrown out of the accident but his wife is trapped inside and despite the adrenaline rush caused by the situation, he is unable to switch cars to get her out and she dies.
Banner is a doctor and works with fellow student Dr. Elaina Marks at the Culver Institute on a project to harness the great power that comes over people at times like Banner's accident. While he showed no signs of supernatural power even in the stressful situation, others have, and he interviews many of them. One account is eerily similar to Banner's own experience, except that the mother was able to jack up her car to save her son, while Banner was unable to do the same to save his wife. (The account triggers her PTSD something violent...)
Meanwhile, a reporter from theNational Register, Jack McGee, keeps trying and failing to get an interview with Banner or Marks. They refuse and regard their tabloid as a tabloid.
They can't find anything in common in blood tests down to the cellular level, but one of their colleagues upgraded the equipment and now they can examine DNA. They do this and find a common marker in all test subjects. They think it's a breakthrough as Banner believes this is what sets him apart. But Marks suggests they check his DNA too, and in fact he has the same marker. There must be another factor.
Gamma-ray interference is preventing them from getting information from Pittsburgh via satellite, and that sparks an idea in Banner. An investigation shows that each of the subjects interviewed performed their feats of strength during a period of high gamma radiation in the atmosphere. The Banner accident happened during a period of very low concentrations and he thinks this may be the key. You get this brainstorm after hours; He calls Marks to share but she doesn't answer the phone and it's 1977 so she doesn't have an answering machine. So go ahead and shine.
At first he doesn't notice any changes (he still can't raise the hospital bed in the radiology room), but he gets a flat tire on his way home in the rain, and his frustration with the process leads him to transform into a giant. , green creature, super strong. He wrecks his car, then wanders through the forest scaring a girl and her father, the former while fishing, the latter while hunting. The father shoots the monster, but it's only a superficial wound and his shotgun jams before he can fire a second time.
The creature rips the camp apart after breaking the shotgun in two on its knee, but leaves father and daughter alive. He wanders around for a bit and then calms down enough to turn back into Banner. He stumbles across the Marks' house, where she is treating the gunshot wound, which has already healed beyond its limits in such a short time. Marks is furious that Banner conducted such a reckless experiment without her, but she bravely works with him to find out what happened.
The first bombshell is that the same settings that allowed them to examine DNA were also made in the radiology machine. Banner thought he absorbed 3,000 units in fifteen seconds, but instead it was two million. This is why the x-ray inversion attempt, which probably would have worked at 3000 units, doesn't work at all.
They decide to experiment in an unused spare lab and place Banner in a pod designed to withstand the depths of the ocean. All attempts to recreate the night of the flat tire fail. After a full day, Marks asks Banner to rest, but the dream gives him nightmares about his wife's death and he becomes a creature again. Marks smashes the pod and lab, obediently recording what happens like a good scientist. She also manages to calm him down enough to turn him back into Banner.
Police arrive shortly after, having found Banner's car wrecked and abandoned. Banner makes up a story about the car's disappearance, but hasn't reported it, thinking a friend lent it to him. McGee is there too, with a plaster cast of a Gigunda footprint found near his car, and also mentions the big, giant green creature that tormented a father and daughter. Banner now knows how he was shot.
McGee breaks into the lab when Banner and Marks aren't there, but they return while he's snooping around. When Banner catches McGee in the storage room, he accidentally knocks over a bottle of chemicals that later leaks. Banner gets McGee out of the building, which then explodes thanks to leaking chemicals while Marks is still inside. McGee is knocked unconscious and Banner transforms back into the Hulk, knocking out Marks. However, he inhaled too much smoke and chemicals and dies in the Hulk's arms.
Both Banner and Marks are believed to have died in the blast. McGee came to his senses in time to see the Hulk pull Marks out of the flames and writes a story blaming the Hulk for the murder of the two doctors.
Banner, now presumed dead by the world, wanders the street...
"People have lost things they love out of guilt."
The Return of the Incredible Hulk
Written and produced by Kenneth Johnson
Directed by Alan J. Levi
Original release date: November 27, 1977
Banner hitchhikes to Everett, where there is a state-of-the-art radiology lab. In between, he sneaks into an orange grove and grabs a piece of fruit. He sees a young woman on crutches visiting a tomb that is collapsing. After talking a bit, he returns to his house, but then collapses again. Banner takes her back to the big house where she lives. Her name is Julie Griffith. His father, who died in a boating accident (it was his grave he visited), ran the orchard and it is now run by his second wife, Margaret. Julie almost died in the same accident, but a good Samaritan saved her. However, due to the damage to his legs from the accident, he can no longer walk without crutches.
Banner is concerned that the medicine the nurse is giving Julie isn't the right color for what the label says. Margaret and Julie are grateful for his help and urge foreman Denny Kayle to hire him as a picker. Kayle is very reluctant but agrees.
Julie is guided by her doctor, Dr. John Bonifant, who gives her another injection and also gives her something else. Banner sees this and alerts Margaret. Unfortunately, Margaret is involved and tells Bonifant that this collector realized something was wrong. He has Kayle fire Banner, saying she can't do it because she's afraid of him. That gets Kayle's husband up, and he and two other collectors pay him severance and kick him out. When Banner refuses to leave without speaking to Margaret first, they start beating him. After being thrown out the door, he transforms into the Hulk, smashing the bunkhouse and people, then leaves.
He meets an old drunk named Michael who lives in a ramshackle cabin in the woods. Michael tries to befriend the Hulk, but when the Hulk throws his whiskey bottle into the fire, it causes a huge explosion that sends the Hulk running. A little later, an unkempt Banner stumbles into the cabin. Michael offers him a change of clothes and also refuses to tell the sheriff about Banner or the Hulk when he comes asking about a large green creature that has trashed Griffith's bunkhouse.
Banner appreciates the clothes and the silence. Michael says he doesn't want to get involved. He also wears a medal of bravery around his neck, which he says is now his. Banner doesn't interfere and goes to Everett Hospital instead. He checks on Kayle and then (in a lab coat and as a technician from the company that made the device) asks about the new radiation device. He finds out that it isn't used after midnight.
Afterwards, he breaks into Bonifant's office, where he finds Julie's medical records. Bonifant and Margaret arrive, and Banner hides in the closet and overhears them discussing their plan to poison Julie, which only went ahead because Julie didn't die in the boat explosion as expected. Bonifant also shows his manipulated X-rays of Julie's legs, which "prove" that she has a terminal illness.
As they leave, Banner takes Julie's X-rays, a bottle containing the poison, and Bonifant's key, which he left on his desk. He steals Bonifant's car and goes to the Griffiths' house. However, a delusional Julie doesn't believe Banner's story about her stepmother and doctor trying to kill her. The tension of the situation causes Banner to transform into the Hulk, pick up Julie and flee into the swamp. Margaret orders her thugs to give chase and make sure they don't make it out of the swamp alive.
Eventually he returns to Banner. Julie is upset, but since she can't walk, she has no choice but to walk with him. They go to Michael's cabin, where Julie recognizes him as the one who saved her from the boat. Michael refuses to help her a second time, though he does give Banner another change of clothes.
Banner and Julie head to the ranger station in hopes of contacting authorities. Banner stuffed the fake X-rays under Julie's mattress before she went out as the Hulk, and he still has the poison in his pocket. Eventually, Michael agrees to come along and the three make little headway for the dogs, who use Margaret's bat to track them down.
Unfortunately, they meet a bear. Luckily, the bear attacks Banner, causing the Hulk to come out again and throw the bear across the lake. The Hulk then picks up Julie and Michael guides her until he is bitten by a rattlesnake. Julie has to treat the bite. At the same time, Michael explains that his son died in Vietnam (the Medal of Honor belongs to the son) and Michael blames himself for stuffing his son's head with stories of the glory of the war.
When Julie applies a tourniquet and sucks out the venom, the Hulk returns to Banner. Michael, cowardly now, offers to stay behind and distract the dogs while Banner and Julie continue to the ranger station. However, Banner and Julie get stuck in the quicksand, and while Julie can get out, Banner can't, and then in his excitement he transforms again, making matters worse. Julie, whose paralysis is mostly psychosomatic, eventually manages with the help of the poison to stand on her own two feet and pull a branch that allows the Hulk to climb out of the quicksand. Julie manages to convince the Hulk to stay in the swamp while clumsily limping to the ranger station.
This works because Bonifant, Margaret and the thugs are arrested. Michael moves into the Griffiths' home as Julie's guest. She wants Banner to do the same, but he can't risk the Hulk hurting her. You have to keep moving. He tries to reverse the gamma rays with the fancy new machine at the hospital (he does it after midnight while Julie and Michael stand guard), but he doesn't get a chance to see if it worked or not, he just has to wait. that you don't transform next time you get angry. Julie gives him some money for the ride and he gets on a bus. Meanwhile, McGee tries to question Julie about what happened, but all she says about the Hulk is that he fell in quicksand.
"It's like having a demon inside you."
It usually doesn't end well when a TV producer destroys most of the comic material. Coinciding with Johnson's adaptation of the Hulk were adaptations ofSpider-Man, Dr. Strange, jCaptain Americawhich deviated from the comics to bad effect.
But although Johnson changed or removed many story elements from the Hulk comics, these two films and the resulting television series arework. Part of that is Johnson's own writing ability. This is the same person who wrote some of the bestThe Six Million Dollar ManEpisodes, and also developedThe bionic womanjforeign nation, two of the best genre shows out there and createdthe originalvMiniseries.
Part of that is also that the essence of the Hulk was kept intact. The original Stan Lee and Jack Kirby comics were partially inspired by itThe Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hydevon Robert Louis Stevenson, and that duality of Banner's Jekyll with Hulk's Hyde is very much intact here. Additionally, Kirby has said that part of his inspiration for the Hulk was the story of a mother rescuing her son from a car, the same story told to Banner and Marks in their studio in the first film.
The best adaptations are those that keep the spirit of the source material and understand the fundamentals of what makes the story what it is. Details can be changed or corrected, but as long as the story basically stays the way it's supposed to be, it can work.
Good casting helps too, and a big reason these films work is because of Bill Bixby's fantastic performances. His banner is tormented but remains compassionate. He's a good person who has endured three tragedies in a row: losing his wife, becoming a monster, and losing his best friend. Now he's on the run, but deep down he's still a good person who started medicine to help people. And even though he can't really be a doctor anymore, his need to help people is still there, which leads him to help JulieThe Return of the Incredible Hulk. Bixby turns Banner into a real person you care about and support.
The incredible Hulkis a very good introduction to this version of the green giant. Like many Marvel heroes of the 1960s, the origin of the 1962 Hulk is very much a product of its time, coupled with nuclear testing by a man who fell out of favor fifteen years later, so the origin was changed to something more discreet than a nuclear explosion. He was wise, but it also adds a personal touch and takes on Banner's frustration at not being able to save his wife.
It helps that he has Susan Sullivan to play with. Better known as latelyRichard Castles Mutter, Sullivan just shines as Marks. His banter with Bixby is excellent as the two act like best friends and make a good team. She is also intelligent, strong willed and a good scientist; In fact, she's a better scientist than Banner, whose grief causes her to make mistakes and let her emotions get in the way. Not to mention that he gamma-rayed himself too much... (I'm a little confused as to why the word "adrenaline" is never mentioned in the movie as it's well documented that adrenaline increases one's strength, but What ever.)
The tracking is less impressive. It sets the format of the show well: Banner comes to town, gets caught up in a local situation, the Hulk shows up, and eventually the day is saved, albeit with a certain amount of Hulk-inflicted property damage. It is an anthology format that also servedThe fugitivejKung-FuWell, and just like the first one, Banner even has someone chasing him in McGee.
But the pace is terrible. There's only really an hour of story here, and it would have been better suited to a regular episode than a movie. As it is, it only crawls, with the endless chase through the swamp - there's a bear! there is quicksand! it rattles!, and then, annoyingly, the actual capture of the villains happens offscreen.
However, these films do what they should, which is a good TV show, and at least the first one works very well as a standalone story too.
The TV show ran from 1978 to 1982. NBC bought the rights to the show from CBS and produced three made-for-TV movies between 1988 and 1990, which were essentially the first attempt at creating a Marvel Cinematic Universe since we first broadcast live got . -Action versions of Thor and Daredevil with the Jade Giant. We will see these three films next week.
Keith R. A. decandidowrote a Hulk story called "Playing It Safe" in 1998.the last blockAnthologyCo-edited by Stan Lee and Peter David.