Erica C. Barnett after Clinton conceded.

The Incredible Hulk has a lot going against it. Edward Norton, who rewrote the script, reportedly hated the studio's edit, and Ang Lee's Hulk movie (which was, let's admit it, awful) still lingers on the edges of memory. But this Hulk is a great superhero movie, and probably the best Hulk movie that anyone could hope for.

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Norton brings just the right kind of Dr. Jekyll angst to his Bruce Banner, a character that can be too whiny or downright morose with the wrong writer behind him. I suppose it's a credit to Banner's meditation practice and breathing techniques that the love of his life, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), keeps coming back to him even as he fights his monstrous temper and begs her for money to flee town. This abusive-boyfriend analogy could easily kill the movie, but Norton and Tyler's pleasant chemistry sugarcoats the underlying bitterness. Meanwhile, a Russian named Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) wants more and more power as he hunts the Hulk because... well, he's evil. The actors treat their scenes as more than just filler between set pieces, but Leterrier easily finds the gorgeousness in action sequences, too.

There's enough story introduced to set up four sequels. Tim Blake Nelson is especially promising as an unstable scientist who may be able to cure Banner's anger issues. Part of the joy of Marvel Comics is the way all the heroes overlap and interact, so a clever plot device further establishes the Marvel superhero movie universe merely suggested in Iron Man. As in many superhero movies, the third act has problems—how do you keep your villain from becoming a caricature when he's a giant evil monster whose sole motivation seems to be finding a really tough guy to fight?—but the movie is such great fuck-shit-up fun that it can successfully smash through any cliché in its way.