Bruce Banner

Culture Warrior

Crowding a movie with talent often seems like a good idea only in the abstract sense. In practice, such films can easily feel overstuffed. For example, the basic conceits for both The Expendables and Grown Ups sound like products of wishful thinking held during a drunk conversation between a group of 19-year-olds at 3am. Yes, in theory a movie featuring all of the action stars of the 80s or the most successful SNL cast since the late-70s would be great – however, a bunch of famous people do not a seminal action film or great comedy make. What’s most surprising about Joss Whedon’s The Avengers is that the whole somehow proved greater than its parts. A movie with this quantity of iconic superheroes runs the incredible risk of being overstuffed and only half-cooked. The standards created by previous Hollywood films indicate that studios would be happy enough allowing the conflagration of bankable characters stand in for (or, more accurately, distract from the lack of) actual entertainment value; mammoth opening weekends, after all, are always more a sign of effective marketing than good filmmaking. But The Avengers not only stands as an equal to some of the stronger entries in Marvel’s 4-year, 5-film multiverse-building, but is arguably superior. Some of these characters came across more fully-fleshed and three-dimensional as part of an ensemble than in their respective standalone films.

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Drinking Games

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new superhero movie kicking off the summer movie season. Joss Whedon’s The Avengers assembles Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain American (along with Hawkeye and Black Widow, neither of whom got their own movie). Many superhero fans are preparing for this release by watching the first five films from Marvel Studios, which lead up to this blockbuster: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America. Or, they’re planning on seeing them in a long-form marathon leading up to the midnight release of The Avengers. Both are good ideas. Whether you watch these films on video at home or are doing so at a theater that serves alcohol, assemble some adult beverages for yourself and play along.

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It’s been a rocky road for The Hulk on the way to next summer’s The Avengers. He started out being portrayed by Eric Bana in an art-film-in-disguise that Ang Lee made called Hulk. That was weird, and boring, and it didn’t go over so well. Then he showed back up looking a lot like Edward Norton in the Louis Leterrier directed The Incredible Hulk. Well, when he was in his human form he looked like Ed Norton. When he was The Hulk he still just looked like The Hulk. Leterrier’s film was more action oriented and in the wheelhouse of what comic book fans were expecting, but something must have gone wrong because now the green goliath suddenly looks a lot like Mark Ruffalo. And this time, he looks a lot like Mark Ruffalo both when he’s a normal guy and when he gets big and green.

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Edward Norton chooses a drink to enjoy with The Incredible Hulk

Did you see that last Hulk movie from 2003? It was enough to drive you to drink. So, if you don’t want to be disappointed with the new one, you can use this drinking game to enjoy the ride.

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