The Incredible Hulk (1977): The Retrospective on One of Marvel’s Most Underrated and Influential Adaptations.

Valenti Govantes
4 min readOct 20, 2020
Pictured: The last shot from the intro showing the duality of the modern Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Image source: NBCUniversal.

“Mr. McGee, Don’t make me angry… you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

Those words are arguably one of the most iconic lines in the history of television but it can be argued few from the Millennial generation would know where they came from.

Back in the ’70s, Stan Lee of Marvel Comics wanted to naturally branch out his expansive universe of iconic superheroes to television. This included TV series and movies for characters such as Captain America, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man. They were all failures with critics and audiences… except for one.

Enter “the Incredible Hulk” starring TV actor Bill Bixby as David Banner and Lou Ferrigno as the title character. The show followed David’s attempts to find a cure while avoiding the authorities all across the country. Developed by Kenneth Johnson of “V” (1983) fame, the show did what would be usually considered the worst move one could do with an adaptation: it changed nearly everything.

Gone were his supporting cast, the gamma bomb origin, and Bruce Banner’s name. In their places were the addition of Mr. McGee, a tabloid reporter who pursued the Hulk, a new origin story that was more realistic, and Banner’s name being now David Bruce Banner.

It was now a ripoff of “the Fugitive” (1963) with superpowers, but that’s not a bad thing considering that show’s enormous success. The show featured notable episodes such as “The First” where Banner finds out about an evil man with a similar condition and “Married” which focuses on a tragic love story between Banner and a woman.

Speaking of the episodes, they developed a defined formula: Banner encounters an individual who reflects his own ordeal, a conflict occurs between them, Banner leaves to avoid suspicion to the tune of the iconic Lonely Man theme by Joe Harnell.

The show was initially a hit with audiences but was later cancelled before a resolution can be made to the show’s overarching cure plotline. Three revival films were later made including “The Incredible Hulk Returns” (1988) and “The Trial of the Incredible Hulk” (1989), but they were glorified backdoor pilots for shows featuring other…

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Valenti Govantes

Just your friendly, neighborhood Medium writer. Always open to discussing anything movie or comic book related.