The Incredible Hulk Returns (1988) – Marvel SUPERHERO MOVIE REVIEW …with Thor


By Geno McGahee

With the popularity of THOR: RAGNAROK, I thought it was time to watch the film that brought back the real Hulk (Lou Ferigno)…not some CGI green dude. If you want Hulk, you find a dude and paint him green. Keep that computer off bitches. All you need is paint. In THE INCREDIBLE HULK RETURNS, we see the original series picked up again after six years of being off the air. The made for TV film wanted to present something different and brought in another Marvel character and that superhero is Thor (Eric Allen Kramer), which immediately throws this film on my bad side. I never liked when they started meshing these superheroes together, especially Hulk. In the Hulk series, we had David Banner (Bill Bixby) dealing with a personal problem and he was seeking to find the cure, butting into the business of many other people, getting himself in trouble, and moving on. Every once in a while, he would fight something out of the ordinary like a bear or another Hulk, but another Hulk made sense because another regular guy used the same gamma radiation to change…but now we have a god mixed into this series? What? OK, maybe I started off on the wrong foot here. I’m sure many comic book geeks creamed their shorts over this film, but I’m not into comic books and loved the execution of the series…now we have Thor. Damn Thor.


We begin with Banner having a nightmare, but awakening in a new world…to the viewers at least. All these years, he strayed away from chicks because he didn’t want to Hulk up and hurt them or as Hulk would put it: “Hulk tear that shit up.” Now, he is sort of living with Maggie Shaw (Lee Purcell), but has not fully committed to it. He sleeps over but still keeps an apartment. We learn that it has been two years since he has Hulked up, which sucks because that leaves four years of undocumented Hulk activity. Damn them for cancelling the show!

Maggie is a widow and is quite taken with Banner or “Banyon” as he goes by in this episode. Why always names that start with B? You’d think that he would come up with other names with different letters, but I guess it was easier to remember. Anyway, both Maggie and Banner work at a huge corporation that has created a gamma transponder that reverses gamma radiation, which was created by Banner. The owner of the company, Josh Lambert (John Gabriel), allows David to work in anonymity but offers to help him get out of any trouble he’s in. Banner thanks him, but how’s he going to get him off of a murder wrap? If they use him Hulking out as a defense, he then has to deal with destruction of public and private property. Hulk has fucked shit up over the years and who pays for it? We do, the tax payers and I would definitely want Banner to pay up what he owes. You throw a redneck through a barn, insurance may not cover that shit.


While working, some geek with a grappling hook appears and gets entrance into the building. It’s the worst character in the entire movie, Donald Blake (Steve Levitt). He was a fan of Banner for a long time, met him once at some conference, and has now found him to tell him a big secret. Before I get into that secret, how the hell did he find Banner? He’s been extremely careful …outside of the name thing. I bet it was the name thing. Whatever the case, this curly-haired nerd starts talking and narrating his adventure into the snowy hills of somewhere, where he found a cave and some ancient writing. He then found a grave, and in the grave was a hammer, and by using that hammer, he resurrects Thor. He even controls him now. Time out! Thor is supposed to be the biggest bad ass in the universe and now this skinny geek controls him because he has possession of the hammer? I thought that nobody could lift the hammer but Thor (keep in mind, I’m not a comic book geek and could be mistaken).


Outside of the grave, it looks like Blake is pretending to jack off with the hammer. That is very disrespectful and when Banner doubts his story, Blake whips it out. The hammer at least. With the hammer, he summons Thor and he starts tearing shit up in the lab. Banner worked hard on this shit. He doesn’t need some dude going around breaking everything. Banner pleads to Thor to leave, but he refuses and launches him into a circuit box or something and it zaps the shit out of him. After 2 years of successfully suppressing the Hulk, he begins to switch. Thor watches on in amazement, but so too does Blake. Now, Thor makes sense. He’s taken on monsters before but Blake is a pussy. He should have shat his pants and ran out the door offering to blow anyone that agrees to get him out of there.


A battle ensues between Hulk and Thor and it sucks. I’m sorry, these two don’t belong in the same movie. Fuck the haters. Hulk is his own man and does not belong socializing with other superheroes. This movie had no respect for the series and had no respect for the Hulk, giving him a shitty wig and then ripping his pants without any originality. Like you rip your pants evenly. You ever rip your pants? You ever put on a midget’s pants and they ripped off like nobody’s business? Me either, but you get the point.

Another thing that I should mention is that Hulk is hairy in this one. Why was it gross to see Hulk with all that black hair on his legs and arms? Hulk’s hair turned green on his head right? So, I guess the carpet doesn’t match the drapes for all of you keeping score. I don’t think Ferigno was into this one and did not shave his legs and arms like he used to. He was just here for the paycheck.


With the Hulk sightings going on, Jack McGee (Jack Colvin) shows up again, but it’s tough to watch this movie and not be disgusted as a die-hard Hulk series fan. Jack tells the cop that the Hulk was “seen with a Viking.” Fuck. That is painful to write. Hulk only assholes. You want to put another bad Hulk in there fine. You want rednecks fine. You want a bear, awesome. BUT I cannot deal with the idea of Thor in this. Poor McGee. At this point, I think I would have given up my search for the Hulk and you’d think that his paper would have pulled him off the subject, especially with 2 years of no Hulk sightings at all. They must really like him or they remember the time when he faked a suicide attempt after being canned. Drama queen.


Now, Banner is forever saddled with Blake. He can’t get rid of the guy. I was hoping Banner would Hulk up and bend Blake over and split him like firewood. That’d teach him a thing or two about fucking up Banner’s life! There is one time, however, where Blake gets lost. He takes Thor to a bar to get women and to have fun. They must have struggled to get this film to the 90 minutes it needed to be. So, they had Thor dance around with some chicks. I guess it’s better than Blake doing more narration or jerking off Thor’s hammer again.

As things get back to normal, a bunch of bad guys invade the Lambert building with guns drawn. Banner Hulks up and takes them down along with Thor, again…and that damn Blake! Why not kill Blake? Why not just throw him off a building and Thor could even toss the hammer up his ass for good measure. Even writing about Blake pisses me off. This is not the Hulk show I knew and loved. You ruined it YOU BASTARDS!


The bad guys, led by Jack (Tim Thomerson) and Mike (Charles Napier), come up with plan B. They dress as police officers, somehow get a police chopper, and attack Maggie’s house. They kidnap her and take off, letting Banner know that if he doesn’t turn over the gamma transponder, she’s a dead woman. Thor gets ready for battle as Blake goes on and on and on. Jesus…shut the fuck up Blake! I will say this though. As much as I hated this film and how they strayed from the formula really badly, Eric Allen Kramer had his moments. One moment was when he answered the door in a towel only as Jack McGee came knocking. He pushed McGee around, which is something that he desperately needed. Screw McGee for all the shit he put Banner through. I could tell that McGee was very nervous about an ass rape as Thor kept pushing forward toward him. That fear got him hauling ass out of there. Thor was amusing at other times as well, as he learned about the culture, but there wasn’t enough of it to make it worth it here.

We get a big showdown at an old warehouse. Banner, Thor and asshole Blake go there to save the girl and take on the bad guys and I have to say that this is the first time that I have seen the Hulk kill somebody. Perhaps this has to do with the bad guys taking his girl from him. He takes this steel beam and slams it into one guy’s chest, launching him fifty feet. That shot to the chest is deadly. He’s dead. Hulk killed him. Hulk then followed up by hitting two other goons and there is no way that they survived. As he murders more people, Thor is taking on his share of bad guys, including one guy that shoots Thor a few times, which does nothing. Instead of running, the bad guy throws his gun at him. If the bullets did not hurt Thor, how the fuck would throwing the gun at him do anything? Maybe if he threw it at Thor’s balls and hoped that he felt it down there…that’d make sense, but not this.


So, Hulk and Thor win and Maggie is saved and Blake won’t shut up! Who is this guy? I just read up that Blake is the alter ego of Thor and whoever put this shit together made them two separate people. Fuck that noise. I’m sure Thor is rolling over in his grave right now…if Thor was real…and if Thor was dead. Maggie looks at Hulk as he just stands there and sort of guesses that it must be Banner. She’s been with him for a while. He’s stayed the night. Why would she assume that he turns into a green monster rather than just think that it’s some random green monster in town and Banner must be out somewhere …maybe a strip club. A lot of this movie did not make sense.

Thor sort of looked like Chris Jericho too. That threw me off. If there was a Chris Jericho lookalike contest in 1988, this guy would have certainly won it. He even sounded like him from time to time. Hulk teaming up with Chris Jericho might have been mad cool. It would have been cooler than this. That’s for sure.


I was surprised to find out that Eric Allen Kramer played “Bear” in AMERICAN WEDDING. He was hilarious in that. He’s been in a lot of stuff since this, and he honestly did rather well in this. He just wasn’t given anything to work with, much like poor Hulk. THE INCREDIBLE HULK RETURNS is just shit. The film crawls along at a snail’s pace. Bixby was directing and also acting, which took away from his skills in front of the camera, or maybe he was rusty, but he just didn’t work well in this. Lee Purcell did well and Ferigno tried, but it just wasn’t good material. As for Blake… FUCK BLAKE.

THE INCREDIBLE HULK RETURNS should have never been made. They could have made a Thor made for TV film or make a real Hulk movie that follows the winning formula set forth by the series. As a huge fan of the Hulk series, I’m disgusted by this film. I gave it a chance. I said, fine, Thor is in it and I have to accept it, but I didn’t think it would be this bad. Avoid Hulk fans. Avoid!


Rating: 2/10