The Incredible Hulk Returns is a 1988 live-action, made-for-TV movie featuring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. It was made after the Incredible Hulk television series was cancelled.
In this movie, we pick up with David Banner two years after his last transformation. He is working as a scientist on a Gamma Transponder that can be used to generate energy. Secretly, it also hopes it can cure him. Unfortunately, one of his ex-colleagues, Dr. Donald Blake, seeks him out and accidentially wrecks everything by unleashing Thor. In this movie, Thor is a separate entity from Blake, called forth (and sent back) when Blake holds the hammer and shouts, "ODIN!"
The element that makes this movie different than all of the previous shows is Thor. Thor represents the first true threat that the Hulk has faced in this series as the first superhuman he had to fight. The action sequences between the two are done in the style typical of the rest of the show which makes this meeting of titans seem a bit ho-hum.
Thor himself is fairly well designed. The origin stuck close to the original from the comics. I liked the crypt sequence with Thor being "resurrected." The choice to include magic in a sci-fi show is a bit odd. They altered the costume and went for a more authentic Viking look, which was a good choice. At times, the mortal characters toss around Thor's hammer, Mjonlir, as if it is quite light. Having held a REAL replica Thor hammer I can tell you this is not the case! Thor does seem to be too much of a "prettyboy" for my liking. Still, he does come across as rowdy and brash (the bar scene is later mirrored in the Thor movie). This is certainly not the refined hero from the comics. The Thor character, if successful, would have been launched into his own TV series but he was not.
The plot for the movie is generally pretty weak. The bad guys are trying to steal the massive Gamma Transponder which somehow descends into petty kindnapping. The weakest sequence in the whole movie is the attack on the beach. Thor and the Hulk combined fail to take down a single helicopter. That right there is jump-the-shark material.
Overall, this is a refreshing return to a fan-favorite series but it failure to integrate the Thor character in a believable way or provide a true threat for the heroes weakens the effort.
1LR Review - 13 out of 20 - It's a Glancing Hit!