The Trial of the Incredible Hulk

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The Trial of the Incredible Hulk
The Trial of the Incredible Hulk.jpg
Genre Science fiction
Distributed by NBC
Directed by Bill Bixby
Produced by Bill Bixby (executive producer)
Gerald Di Pego (executive producer) (as Gerald Dipego)
Robert Ewing (producer)
Hugh Spencer-Phillips (producer)
Written by Gerald Di Pego
Starring Bill Bixby
Lou Ferrigno
John Rhys-Davies
Rex Smith
Marta DuBois
Nancy Everhard
Stan Lee (uncredited cameo)
Music by Lance Rubin
Cinematography Chuck Colwell
Editing by Janet Ashikaga
Production company Bixby-Brandon Productions (producer)
New World International (in association with)
Country United States
Language English
Original channel NBC
Release date
  • May 7, 1989 (1989-05-07)
Running time 95 minutes
Preceded by The Incredible Hulk Returns (1988)
Followed by The Death of the Incredible Hulk (1990)

The Trial of the Incredible Hulk is a 1989 made-for-television film sequel to the 1970s Incredible Hulk television series, featuring both the Hulk and fellow Marvel Comics character Daredevil, who team up to defeat Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin. As was the case with The Incredible Hulk Returns, this television movie also acted as a backdoor television pilot for a Daredevil series (which was not produced).[1][2] It was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Plot[edit]

On the run again after the events of the previous TV movie, David Banner (Bill Bixby) is working up north under the name David Belson. Disenchanted and at the end of his rope, David makes his way towards a large city with the hopes of renting a room and staying buried. Unbeknownst to him, the city he arrives in is under the control of a powerful underworld kingpin named Wilson Fisk (John Rhys-Davies) but is also protected by a mysterious black-clad crimefighter known as Daredevil. When two of Fisk's men come onto the commuter subway train after having committed a jewel robbery, one of them takes an interest in a beautiful woman also riding the train and she rejects him. David witnesses an attempted sexual assault by one of Fisk's men, he transforms into the Hulk (Lou Ferrigno) and things go haywire. A short while later, David is arrested by the police and wrongfully charged with the crime.

While awaiting trial, blind defense attorney Matt Murdock (Rex Smith) is assigned to David's case. David is uncooperative but Murdock has faith that he is innocent and is determined to prove so. One night while fast asleep, David has a nightmare about his upcoming trial and dreams about transforming into the Hulk on the witness stand. The stress of this causes him to transform in reality and the Hulk subsequently breaks free of the prison.

Subsequent events see David Banner team up with Daredevil who reveals his identity as Matt Murdock. Matt tells David about his origins which David has trouble accepting at first. Daredevil also reveals that he has an ally on the Police force who provides him with information relating to criminal activity. As Daredevil, Matt goes to investigate a tip provided by his informant. The tip turns out to have been planted by the Kingpin and Daredevil is badly hurt in an ambush by the Kingpin's men. David rushes to save Matt but he is too late to help, becomes angry, and transforms into Hulk. The Hulk, in turn, smashes in and saves Matt and Kingpin and his men flee. Matt who is barely conscious, traces the Hulk's face as he transforms back to David, thus learning his secret.

Kingpin, in the meantime, has the witness to events on the subway kidnapped from protective custody in order to have her killed but she is saved by the Kingpin's assistant who finds her attractive. The Kingpin is also planning a major meeting of underworld crime lords in order to propose the consolidation of their operations into a big syndicate with himself as chairman.

David who is trained as a medical doctor, treats Matt's injuries and spreads the cover story that Matt got hurt falling down the stairs. Matt's self-confidence is seriously shaken. David's confidence on the other hand has been restored by seeing how Matt has embraced his unique gifts also caused by exposure to radiation. After a little coaxing from David, Matt begins to recover and retrain his body. Soon enough, the two return to work and go to save the captured woman. The two engage the Kingpin and his men and ultimately succeed in beating him. Kingpin and his assistant escape and the prisoner is freed. The two part ways as friends and allies with David planning to head in search of a cure for himself and Matt will stay in the city and protect it.

Production notes[edit]

This movie was the first live-action Marvel film or television project to feature a cameo appearance from famed creator Stan Lee, as the jury foreman in Banner's imagined trial. During this scene the Hulk also wears his signature purple pants, the first time the Bixby/Ferrigno Hulk did so.

Rhys-Davies would later appear with Lou Ferrigno on the animated Incredible Hulk series voicing Thor, whom Ferrigno allied with in the live-action movie The Incredible Hulk Returns. However, due to the lack of a Hulk-Out from Banner in the final act,[3] this marked the first time the two really worked together. The two characters would not be seen on screen together again until the Marvel Cinematic Universe versions of the characters appeared in the 2012 crossover film The Avengers.

In Sweden they changed the name on the movie to Den otrolige Hulken i New York (The Incredible Hulk In New York) even though the city in the movie is a fictional city and not New York City, although in the comics the Daredevil does works out of New York City. In 2003 the Swedish title was re-changed into "Hulken och Daredevil" ("The Hulk And Daredevil")

The movie is titled The Trial of the Incredible Hulk, being a metaphor for Banner's trials and tribulations in the film which represent those in his entire life. Literally, Banner never stands trial except for in a dream.

The Canadian city of Vancouver's then newly built rapid transit system, SkyTrain, made its first formal cinematic appearance in the film. Shots were done both on a train, as well as the penultimate Burrard Station on the westbound platform.

Comparison to comics[edit]

  • In the comics, Daredevil wears a red costume. In the television film, he wears a black, Ninja-inspired costume.[3] Nor are there any "devil" horns on his cowl, nor any kind of "D" or double-"D" logo on his chest. The television film's costume makes the fact that Daredevil is blind more apparent. Like his comic book incarnation, Murdoch is a lawyer who seeks to give criminals a second chance.
  • In this movie, the Kingpin is never called by the name Kingpin; instead, everyone refers to him by his birth name Wilson Fisk. This might have been an effort to establish that people were unaware that Fisk, the respectable businessman, was also the nefarious criminal leader, known as the Kingpin.

Legacy[edit]

The title of this film is referenced by the third chapter of the Ultimate Marvel miniseries The Ultimates 2, the title of which is "Trial of the Incredible Hulk," in which Bruce Banner is literally held on trial for his murderous rampage through New York City which occurred in The Ultimates.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  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. ^ a b "Hulk Smash Television!". IGN. Retrieved 2010-09-09. 

External links[edit]