The Trial of the Incredible Hulk

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The Trial of the Incredible Hulk
The Trial of the Incredible Hulk.jpg
Genre Action
Written by Gerald Di Pego
Directed by Bill Bixby
Starring Bill Bixby
Lou Ferrigno
John Rhys-Davies
Rex Smith
Marta DuBois
Nancy Everhard
Theme music composer Lance Rubin
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Bill Bixby (executive producer)
Gerald Di Pego (executive producer) (as Gerald Dipego)
Robert Ewing (producer)
Hugh Spencer-Phillips (producer)
Editor(s) Janet Ashikaga
Cinematography Chuck Colwell
Running time 95 minutes
Production company(s) Bixby-Brandon Productions (producer)
New World International (in association with)
Distributor NBC
Original network NBC
Original release
  • May 7, 1989 (1989-05-07)
Preceded by The Incredible Hulk Returns
Followed by The Death of the Incredible Hulk

The Trial of the Incredible Hulk is a 1989 television film spin-off 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.

Despite the film's title, writer/executive producer Gerald Di Pego has stated that the idea of having the Hulk actually go on trial was never even discussed.[3]


On the run again after the events of the previous TV movie, David Banner 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 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 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 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 goes berserk and 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 injured 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 abducted 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.



Though it did not succeed in giving birth to a Daredevil television series, The Trial of the Incredible Hulk garnered very high ratings.[3]

Viewers were less enthusiastic about it than The Incredible Hulk Returns. The most common criticisms were the absence of the Hulk himself from the final act and the misleading title (the "trial" only takes place in a dream sequence).[3]

Miscellaneous 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 telefilm The Incredible Hulk Returns. Ferrigno did not appear in the final act of Trial and thus did not share any scenes with Rhys-Davies,[4] so the animated series was the first time the two actors worked together.

In Sweden the title was changed 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. In 2003 the Swedish title was changed again to "Hulken och Daredevil" ("The Hulk And Daredevil").

Comparison to comics[edit]

  • Like his comic book incarnation, Murdock is a lawyer who seeks to give criminals a second chance. In the comics, Daredevil normally wears a red costume. In the television film, he wears a black, Ninja-inspired costume.[4] There are no devil horns on his cowl, nor any kind of "D" or double "D" logo on his chest.
  • In this movie, Wilson Fisk is never called by the name "Kingpin". This may have been because in the comics, the general public saw Wilson Fisk as a legitimate businessman, unaware that he also used another identity, for his clandestine criminal activities.

Home media[edit]

This television film was released on VHS by Starmaker Videos in December 1992.[5] It was released by Anchor Bay Entertainment on May 13, 2008 along with The Incredible Hulk Returns 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. ^ a b c Glenn, Greenberg (February 2014). "The Televised Hulk". Back Issue! (TwoMorrows Publishing) (70): 25. 
  4. ^ a b "Hulk Smash Television!". IGN. Archived from the original on March 27, 2012. Retrieved 2010-09-09. 
  5. ^ Mangels, Andy (January 1993). "Hollywood Heroes". Wizard (Wizard Entertainment) (17): 39. 

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