Tag Archives: Marvel Universe(s)

The Incredible Hulk Returns (1988)

In 1979 the gray hairs at CBS shocked the world by unleashing The Incredible Hulk on prime time television. It was revolutionary in a post-Superman America, where comic book properties were thought either too expensive for television (unless they were animated), or just too damn campy. The tragicomic failure of TV’s Spider-Man the year before only worked to shore up these illusions. And yet…

On one level, The Incredible Hulk was a horrific Franken-show. Its cast and crew of soap opera veterans had little idea how to run a superhero series. Its producers could barely drum up enough money to keep the green paint on Lou Ferrigno’s skin. And the network insisted on changing the main character’s name from “Bruce” to “David” because “Bruce” was just sooo gay. Even in 1979.

And yet it ran for five years with respectable ratings. The fan base seemed to grow and grow. People just couldn’t get enough of the not-so-jolly green giant and his puny human alter-ego. This marked a spike of hope in that superhero dead zone. Not bad considering every show featured exactly the same plot.

Then in 1982 The Incredible Hulk vanished. And silence covered the sky. With their mainstay gone, Marvel Comics seemed to fold in upon itself, shying away from live action film production. Just look at the ratings, they told themselves: people were getting bored with it, we were getting bored with it. Better to fade away than burn out. Could’ve been worse. They could’ve hated it. {More}

Blade (1998)

"And in this corner, weighed down by over fifty pounds of body armor and leather, it's..."
“And in this corner, weighed down by over fifty pounds of body armor and leather, it’s…”

This is a unique specimen, a transitional fossil. It combines the disrespect for an established comic book character’s cannon that defined the Golden Age of the American Superhero Film (which unarguably began with Richard Donner’s Superman) with the complete seriousness and penchant for eye-gouging special effects that went onto define the Silver Age, which would not out-and-out begin until two years after Blade fell off everyone’s radar screens. Everyone but we geeks, that is.

Fact is, we recognized a good thing when we saw one (unless we avoided this flick out of misplaced anti-vampire prejudice). And while it’s not the head-stomping, face-melting, game-changer we hoped it would be, Blade certainly proved something serious creative types (by which I mean, science fiction writers) had known for decades: treat your concept seriously the audience will follow, no matter how fantastically weird your concept might be. Then, as long as you can avoid curb-stomping your audience’s willing suspension of disbelief, it doesn’t matter how well known and beloved your main character might be…though hiring a well-known, beloved actor to play him never hurt anybody. Continue reading Blade (1998)