Movie Name: The Trial of the Incredible Hulk
Genre(s): Comic Book/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure
Release Date(s): May 7, 1989
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
David Banner (Bill Bixby) is trying to escape his past as the Hulk (Lou Ferrigno). Escaping to a city, Banner hopes to get lost but finds himself under arrest for murder when he gets caught in the middle of a robbery. To Banner’s defense is a blind lawyer named Matt Murdock (Rex Smith) who believes David could be what he needs to bring down the kingpin of crime Wilson Fisk (John Rhys-Davis). Murdock holds a secret also…in the masked guise of a man without fear known as Daredevil.
Directed by Bill Bixby, The Trial of the Incredible Hulk aired on NBC on May 7, 1989. It was a follow-up to 1988’s The Incredible Hulk Returns. It has been released with The Incredible Hulk Returns on DVD as a combo pack.
The Trial of the Incredible Hulk is a bit of a misnomer and played a bit of a trick on viewers. The commercials showed Bill Bixby losing control in court and becoming the Hulk in front of a crowd of people. This does occur in the movie, but it is all a dream. There is no trial…It really doesn’t even feel like a test since the Hulk doesn’t seem to really do much in this movie.
The real pull of The Trial of the Incredible Hulk is the appearance of Daredevil (way before Ben Affleck played him in 2003). Like Affleck however, Rex Smith is a pretty dull Daredevil. They also alter Daredevil’s surrounding. There is no Foggy Nelson or Karen Page…only a guy named Al Pettiman (Richard Cummings Jr.) and Matt’s partner Christa Klein (Nancy Everhard). The Kingpin here was played by Jon Rhys-Davies but is only referred to by his real name Wilson Fisk. The only other comic book follower was a rather minor character named Turk (Mark Acheson) who always serves as Daredevil’s unwilling informant.
The movie’s kind of uneven. There is a lot of action pretty quickly into the movie with four “Hulkout” pretty evenly spaced and intermixed with Daredevil, but the whole last segment of the movie, nothing happens. Banner and Daredevil raid the Kingpin’s base without incident or Hulkout. The movie is called The Trial of the Incredible Hulk but it feels like more of a pilot for Daredevil (which was a rumor at the time). Plus where does the beard go when Banner transforms?
The Trial of the Incredible Hulk is for fans and those who are fans of superhero movies no matter their make or model. Another big moment in this movie is the first appearance of Stan Lee in a Marvel film (he’s a member of the jury in the faux trial). It has become commonplace now for the Marvel creator to appear in superhero movies, but here it was a new thing. Fans of the original series can enjoy this film and probably should see it. It was followed by The Death of the Incredible Hulk in 1990.