The Incredible Hulk
1978 to 1982
Starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno
One of the shiniest stars in Whedon’s The Avengers, was the smash, smash, “puny God” timing of Mark Ruffalo‘s Incredible Hulk. While we adored the character in the film, we also loved Ruffalo‘s tortured portrayal that was reminiscent of Bixby’s Banner from the original television series.
In the TV series, Dr. David Banner, a widowed physician and scientist, who is presumed dead, travels across America under assumed names (his false surnames always begin with the letter “B”, but he keeps his first name), and finds himself in positions where he helps others in need despite his terrible secret: in times of extreme anger, he transforms into a huge, incredibly strong green creature, who has been given the name “The Hulk”. In his travels, Banner earns money by working temporary jobs.
The series was originally broadcast by CBS from 1978 to 1982, with 82 episodes over five seasons. The two-hour pilot movie, which established the Hulk’s origins, aired on November 4, 1977. It was developed and produced by Kenneth Johnson, who also wrote or directed some episodes.
After the series ended, the fate of David Banner was a cliffhanger until 1988. The franchise was purchased from CBS by rival NBC. They produced three made-for-television films: The Incredible Hulk Returns (directed by Nicholas Corea), and The Trial of the Incredible Hulk and The Death of the Incredible Hulk (both directed by Bill Bixby). Bixby played Hulk like the character is drawn in the comics-wounded, shameful and always looking for answers. Also? The theme song is enough to make even the greenest of angry creatures cry.