Mass Murdock, or, The Duplicate Daredevil Dilemma
This is a question we’ve struggled with before; when quantifying superhero adaptation reboots, what counts and what doesn’t?
The Incredible Hulk, while a great show, could not really be considered to have had what I’m calling “Marvel Cred.” While it’s de rigeur for comic book adaptations today to be stuffed with easter egg nods to the source material, Incredible Hulk producer Kenneth Johnson basically took the premise – scientist gets exposed to gamma radiation and becomes uncontrollable green rage monster – and married it to the format of The Fugitive. Not even the scientist’s name survived intact, due to either a distaste for alliteration, or to avoid some weird ’70s stereotypes.
That changed when the Incredible Hulk returned in The Incredible Hulk Returns, a 1988 TV movie that served as a backdoor pilot for a Thor series. This Thor, though, was a little different; rather than the God Of Thunder, this Thor was a rather doughy Viking trying to earn his way into Valhalla. The one element they kept from the Thor comics was Donald Blake, which is like making a TV show about Clark Kent and never mentioning Superman. And what a mistake that would be.
That’s why The Trial Of The Incredible Hulk was such a pleasant surprise. Despite Daredevil’s palette-swapped costume, the TV movie did a decent job of bringing the protector of Hell’s Kitchen to the screen. John Rhys-Davies was perfectly cast as Wilson “Kingpin” Fisk, even if he had hair – due to Davies’ commitments to a certain other movie he was in that year.
And if nothing else, the movie is significant for featuring the first Stan Lee cameo.
…as your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man?