The Incredible Hulk | 2008
The evolution of Hulk continues its convoluted journey as Ang Lee’s stylized ‘comic book’ visuals are jettisoned and Ed Norton takes over from Eric Bana, now lying low in Brazil, in a Rio de Janeiro favela, one of the city’s famous and teeming slums.
The spectacular aerial shot is of the real Rocinha Favela, the largest in Rio, and home to 300,00 people in the South Zone. Banner’s neighbourhood, a winding maze of narrow back alleys and steep steps, though, is the Tavares Bastos – which is the best-policed and – importantly – safest of the city’s favelas.
Banner is working as a general handyman in a juice bottling plant. This turns out to be not such a good idea, when an accidental cut results in a stray drop of his super-duper blood plopping into a bottle of Pingo Doce.
The exterior factory-yard scenes were filmed at the former Behring Chocolate factory in Rio’s Santo Cristo neighbourhood but, as the production was based in studios in Toronto, Ontario, the interior of the plant was created in the abandoned Consumer’s Glass Factory (since demolished) in Hamilton, west of Toronto.
The fortified guarana drink (swigged in a cameo by Stan Lee) betrays the whereabouts of Banner to General Ross (now William Hurt, and rather nastier than Sam Elliott in the previous film). He calls for help from the British Royal Marines, which arrives in the shape of Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) at ‘Fort Johnson, Everglades’. In fact, the airfield is Canadian Forces Base Trenton, 142 Northstar Drive, Quinte West, about 100 miles east of Toronto.
Blonsky heads down to Rio, chasing Banner, parkour style, across the roofs of the real favela. Banner’s inevitable escape sets up the personal grudge which motivates the swaggering Blonsky.
When Banner turns up in the jungle of ‘Guatemala’, it’s actually alongside the 30-metre-high Taunay Waterfall in the Tijuca Forest near Rio, with its picturesque stone bridge.
Needing to access his past records, to help with a cure, Banner heads to ‘Culver University, Virginia’ where Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) is now working in the ‘Biological Sciences Building’. The fictitious university campus is the familiar University of Toronto, King’s College Circus – you might recognise its Gothic tower from productions such as Urban Legend.
In the guise of a pizza delivery guy, Banner blags his way into Knox College, the university’s theological college, past the obliging security guard (another cameo, this time from Lou Ferrigno).
Betty recognises Bruce – even though he looks nothing like Eric Bana – and follows him in the rain for a big reunion clinch on Toronto’s Cherry Street Bridge (correctly, the Cherry Street Strauss Trunnion Bascule Bridge) over the Toronto Harbour Ship Channel in the city’s industrial Port Lands – which you might recognise as the spot where Ralphie helps his dad change a tyre in the Cleveland-set seasonal favourite A Christmas Story.
When the military turn up and start lobbing tear gas canisters at him, Banner understandably gets a little angry and unleashes his inner beast.
He ends up in an epic battle with the military in the quad of Knox College (where the covered glass walkway was added just for the film), which spills out to Morningside Park, in Scarborough, over ten miles to the east.
Blonsky is left crushed and near death, but a drop of hulk serum soon has him back on his feet and ready for round three.
Banner, now accompanied by Betty, travels to ‘New York’ to meet online help Mr Blue, Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson).
The police roadblock at the ‘tunnel entrance’, where the pair ditch the car and continue on foot, is on Lakeshore Boulevard, beneath the Gardiner Expressway, back in Port Lands and, yes, they’re crossing the Cherry Street Bridge again, before taking a boat – across to ’Manhattan’.
In ‘New York’, they stop the wildly careering yellow cab on Toronto’s Yonge Street at King Street, and nearby on Melinda Street, Bruce offers to give Betty tips on anger management.
They meet Sterns at ‘Grayburn College’, which turns out to be the University of Toronto again, as Ross and his troops turn up outside the circular pillared Convocation Hall on Galbraith Road at King’s College Road – just alongside Knox College.
The entrance to Sterns’ lab stormed by Blonsky and his men is the University of Toronto Bookstore, 214 College Street at St George Street, which is actually a block to the south.
Bruce is taken away, sedated, and it’s time for Blonsky to get his own proper dose of Hulk juice from Sterns, despite the warning that it might turn him into an abomination. Which is, of course, what it does.
With the Abomination trashing ‘Harlem’, the military are obliged to turn to the lesser of the two evils and send Hulk to take it down.
Despite the appearance of the famed ‘Apollo Theatre’, the presence of such familiar Toronto landmarks as Sam’s record store and Club Zanzibar indicate that the epic battle is being staged on Yonge Street, in the heart of downtown Toronto. In fact, the building at 363 Yonge Street is lurking behind the ‘Apollo’ frontage.
The side street where Hulk improvises a pair of XXL boxing gloves by ripping a NYPD car in two is Main Street East, back in Hamilton, where temporary buildings were erected on parking lots at the junction with John Street.