Hulk (UHD Release 2019-7-9) shows incredible details in 4K, but with some sharpening halos in a few scenes. Its video quality is better than I expected from a 2003 movie.
Hulk (2003) was not a commercial or critical success. The movie studio clearly was not pleased and therefore cancelled its planned sequel. It was abandoned, not considered to be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but its 2008 reboot was, even though the latter movie did not really make more money.
With dozens of superhero movies now, we can look back at Hulk (2003) and fairly evaluate what it did wrong, if any. With the success of Spider-Man (2002), people expected another fun movie like that, but Hulk is clearly not this kind of movie and disappointed them. The concept of a serious and sad superhero movie was not validated until the groundbreaking Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy a few years later. In a way, it was ahead of its time. There was never any guarantee a trying-to-be-fun superhero movie must be a good movie, the disastrous Batman & Robin (1997) is a perfect example of that.
The choice of Ang Lee as the director was very interesting. It makes this a movie about families, which happen to include a superhero, instead of a superhero movie. People do not normally look at this movie this way, but it is again about fathers and daddy issues, not completely unlike Ang Lee’s father trilogy before it. There are even two fathers in this movie but there was only one father actor in the earlier three movies. Even though mainstream audience did not care for it, I would argue it is what makes this movie unique and memorable.
Normal superhero movies are about superheros combating supervillains with great action sequences. This movie does not offer that – the dogs are no good, and there is not really combat with the only supervillain in this movie. What we got instead is the superhero treated as a monster and is running away from people. Unfortunately, it is more like King Kong than a superhero.
People also criticized its comic panel presentation. I think it was a nice try, it was not necessary but I do not consider it to be annoying. Occasionally it offered multiple angles of a scene that makes it worthwhile. As for the CGI, it looks a little odd but was at the limits of the technology at that time.
To summarize, it was underrated because people expected something different. Ang Lee was exhausted and almost ready to quit after this movie, until his father gave him encouragement to do the next one (and passed away soon), which turns out to be the award winning and box office success Brokeback Mountain (2005).