Daredevil Month: Reviewing ‘Trial of the Incredible Hulk’

Posted: April 7, 2015 in Reviews
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Image taken from youtube.com

Welcome to Part II of Daredevil’s TV History everyone. As I mentioned previously, we’re taking a look at 1989’s Trial of the Incredible Hulk, starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. Despite the title, Matt Murdock and his Daredevil persona both appear in this movie while trying to help David Banner.

The Plot

Image taken from wikipedia.org

The movie starts with Bixby’s Banner, under a new name and on the run, arriving in a new city with a premade cover story. Unfortunately for him, the city is actually under the control of Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin of Crime. When two of Fisk’s men rob a store and attempt to sexually assault a young woman, they catch the attention of Banner and force him to turn into the Hulk. Once he calms down, Banner is arrested by the police and is charged with both crimes.

Matt Murdock (Rex Smith), a practicing attorney in the city, is assigned to Banner’s case. Although Banner doesn’t want any help, Murdock still wants to prove that the man is innocent. This is complicated by the arrival of the Hulk, who breaks out of the cell he’s kept in and goes on a rampage, attracting the attention of Daredevil. Ultimately, Daredevil reveals his true identity as Murdock before telling Banner about his past.

Later, Murdock receives a tip from his contacts in the police force about a crime taking place. As Daredevil, he rushes to the scene of the crime and discovers that it’s a trap by the Kingpin. While DD is quickly captured, Banner tries and fails to rescue the lawyer. After failing, he transforms into the Hulk and manages to both save Daredevil and force Kingpin to flee. During this event, DD discovers Banner’s identity.

Kingpin eventually abducts the woman from earlier in order to kill her, although she is saved. He also wants to gather a number of crime lords in order to get them to all work together. While this would be the perfect time for Daredevil to go to work, his confidence was damaged during his earlier run-in with Fisk and his men. Banner manages to turn his attitude around, and the two go out to rescue the woman. As expected, the two heroes win and force Kingpin to flee again. The day having been saved, Banner leaves to look for a cure while Murdock stays behind to protect the city.

My Thoughts

Let’s get this right off the bat: this is a typical Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno Hulk movie, meaning this movie has campy acting, odd writing, and “interesting” casting. If you aren’t a fan of any of these things, this movie isn’t for you.

Image taken from youtube.com

That having been said, this is a fun movie. Lou Ferrigno’s Hulk is always fun to watch while in a rage, and Bill Bixby is always a joy to watch as the emotionally struggling David Banner. Rex Smith too is a surprisingly good choice for Matt Murdock/Daredevil. I really don’t know how to describe his acting except as “good”. He just has that special something that really makes his role believable.

What I love most about this movie is the easter eggs and cameos, forming the beginnings of the overall connected Marvel universe on the screen. For instance, Stan Lee, in his first movie cameo, appears as a jury foreman during Banner’s imagined case. In this scene, the Hulk also wears the purple pants that are a usual staple of the character in the comics.

I also feel that Daredevil’s black costume in this movie influenced Frank Millar’s 1990s run on the comic. I haven’t done the research yet to link these two or disprove this theory, but every time I see Millar’s Daredevil costume, I always think of this movie.

Overall, I recommend this movie. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, and it has a couple interesting versions of now popular Marvel superheroes. If you’re new to Marvel or earlier Marvel projects, you might not like this movie. If you appreciate the company’s film and television history, or if you just like Lou Ferrigno’s Hulk, take some time to watch this movie.

FILM GRADE: 5.0/10


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