The Trial of the Incredible Hulk (1989)

thetrialoftheincrediblehulk

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David Banner and his green-skinned alter ego are back and this time, they have another Marvel hero joining them in the form of Daredevil.

Forced to go on the run again, David Banner has taken the pseudonym of David Belson and even has grown a full beard to hide his identity. After failing at a job in the north, David heads towards the big city and plans to stay low. However, when he attempts to rescue a woman from being assaulted, David transforms into the Hulk and escapes. However, he soon finds himself arrested and accused of assaulting the victim, whose attacker was a goon who works for the crime kingpin known as Wilson Fisk.

As he awaits trail, David meets his lawyer, a blind man named Matt Murdock. David is worried, but Matt has faith in believing that he is innocent. When David has a nightmare about transforming into the Hulk while on the witness stand, he actually does turn into the Hulk, who breaks out of prison. However, despite the chaos, the Hulk finds himself helping a mysterious black clad figure known as Daredevil, who in turn is none other than Matt Murdock himself. When after one of their team-ups against Fisk’s men, Matt learns David is the Hulk, the two confide in each other to learn each other’s background stories. When Daredevil is injured in a fight, David helps him and decides that he will help him in the fight against Fisk for the city.

The second of a trilogy of TV movies set after the hit 1978-1982 series based on the Marvel Comics, this film brings in another Marvel character joining the Hulk. Where the first of the trilogy, The Incredible Hulk Returns, featured Thor, this one features Daredevil. Unlike the character sporting the red suit with the horns everyone is used to, this Daredevil sports an all-black ninja like outfit, something that would be used later in a 1994 comic book series and the Netflix series that ran for three seasons.

While Bill Bixby once again returns as David Banner and Lou Ferrigno once again playing the Hulk, it is Rex Smith who brings in the most impact as Daredevil. Coming off his stint on the underrated Street Hawk series, Smith does a pretty good job as Daredevil and it was revealed this was meant to start up a potential Daredevil series that never happened. The legendary John Rhys-Davies plays Wilson Fisk as a mastermind who doesn’t get involved in the action himself, but is more the puppet master of the operation, one that puts David Banner in prison.

This installment does something very different from what many will be used to. Whether it is a good or bad thing, it depends on how one sees it. While there are scenes that have the team-up of both Marvel heroes, the final action sequence actually does not involve the Hulk. Instead, a Hulk-less Banner actually is confident enough to not have to unleash the beast within to help Daredevil and this was a very bold and, in some sense, smart move. Seeing Banner not having to rely on his angry alter ego brings something fresh and it works here.

The Trial of the Incredible Hulk may seem to suffer from a lack of Hulk in the final act, but it proves that sometimes Banner doesn’t need the Hulk, thanks to the heroic Daredevil, who steals the show here.

WFG RATING: B-

NBC presents a Bixby-Brandon production in association with New World International. Director: Bill Bixby. Producers: Robert Ewing and Hugh Spencer-Phillips. Writer: Gerald DiPego; based on the television series created by Kenneth Johnson; based on the Marvel Comics characters created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Bill Everett. Cinematography: Chuck Colwell. Editing: Janet Ashikaga.

Cast: Bill Bixby, Lou Ferrigno, Rex Smith, John Rhys-Davies, Marta Dubois, Nancy Everhard, Nicholas Hormann, Richard Cummings Jr., Joseph Mascolo, John Novak.

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