The Incredible Hulk Returns

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The Incredible Hulk Returns
The Incredible Hulk Returns.jpg
Genre Action-Adventure
Distributed by NBC
Directed by Nicholas Corea
Bill Bixby (uncredited)
Produced by Bill Bixby (executive producer)
Nicholas Corea (executive producer)
Daniel McPhee (supervising producer)
Written by Stan Lee
Nicholas J. Corea
Starring Bill Bixby
Lou Ferrigno
Steve Levitt
Eric Kramer
Jack Colvin
Charles Napier
Lee Purcell
Tim Thomerson
Music by Lance Rubin
Cinematography Chuck Colwell
Editing by Janet Ashikaga
Briana London
Production company Bixby-Brandon Productions
New World Television
Country United States
Language English
Original channel NBC
Release date May 22, 1988
Running time 100 minutes
Preceded by The Incredible Hulk
Followed by The Trial of the Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk Returns is a 1988 television film based on the Marvel comic books that serves as a continuation of the popular Incredible Hulk television series. In it, Dr. David Banner has nearly cured himself from being the Hulk.[1] This was also Jack Colvin's last appearance as Jack McGee.[2][3]

This television movie acted as a backdoor pilot for an unproduced television series featuring the Thor comic book character. This is the first time another character or element from the Marvel Universe appeared in the milieu of the TV series. Thor's appearance differs from the Marvel Comics character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, resembling a more realistic and divine version of the "Norse God of Thunder" but still closely following the comic in that he is sent to earth to learn humility. This is the first and only time that magical, supernatural or otherworldly elements have been used in the universe of the Incredible Hulk TV series.[4]

In this version Blake does not become Thor, who is a separate character. By holding Thor's hammer Mjolnir and shouting "Odin!" Blake can summon the Viking Warrior to help him, the two interacting and openly discussing their situations: Blake wants Thor off his back, but the latter will not be admitted into Asgard until he has proven himself worthy. The hammer is also not restricted by the worthiness test.


Two years after he walked off into the sunset in the episode "A Minor Problem", Dr. David Banner has been gainfully employed at the Joshua-Lambert Research Institute (as David Bannion) where he and a team of scientists are putting the final touches on a Gamma Transponder. It has been two years since his last transformation into the creature and Banner is now happily involved in a relationship with a young widow. Banner hopes to put all worries about the risk of transforming into the Hulk to rest by using the Gamma Transponder to reverse the effects of gamma radiation on himself.

Donald Blake and Thor

David is surprised by the arrival of Dr. Donald Blake, a former student of his. Blake explains that he now shares a mystical bond with Thor, the God of Thunder of Norse mythology. Blake calls upon Thor to appear in order to prove the validity of his story. The appearance of the Viking god is shocking enough to transform David into the creature, and a battle between Hulk and Thor leaves David's lab severely damaged.

With his experiment now set back, David and his transponder become the target of a crime organization within the ranks of the Joshua-Lambert Institute.



Unlike the preceding series which was produced by MCA/Universal, this film and the following two sequels were produced by New World Television (New World was Marvel's owner at the time) and Bill Bixby's production outfit, which, in association with NBC, took over the Hulk television franchise from former broadcaster CBS.

Bill Bixby recruited Nicholas Corea, who wrote and/or directed many episodes of the Incredible Hulk TV series, to write and direct The Incredible Hulk Returns. Kenneth Johnson, the creator/executive producer (and sometimes writer/director) of the TV series, was not invited to contribute to the film.[5]


The Incredible Hulk Returns was a major ratings success, outdoing even the high expectations directed to it as a reunion of the Incredible Hulk TV series.[5]

Home media[edit]

This television film was released by Anchor Bay Entertainment on May 13, 2008 along with The Trial of the Incredible Hulk as a DVD double feature. They were re-released by Image Entertainment on October 11, 2011.


  1. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (1988-10-11). "Superheroes' Battleground: Prime Time". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-12. 
  2. ^ "F.O.O.M. (Flashbacks of Ol' Marvel) #16: "I'm Free Now – The Incredible Hulk (1988-1990)"". Comic Bulletin. Retrieved 2010-09-09. 
  3. ^ "Hulk Smash Television!". IGN. Retrieved 2010-09-09. 
  4. ^ O'Connor, John J. (1988-05-20). "TV Weekend; Incredible Hulk Meets Mighty Thor". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-10. 
  5. ^ a b Glenn, Greenberg (February 2014). "The Televised Hulk". Back Issue! (TwoMorrows Publishing) (70): 25. 

External links[edit]