I have really been enjoying the early 2000's, pre-MCU, walk down memory lane in this Reflections series. It was an era of throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks. Comic book movies were still figuring themselves out and the idea of a shared universe was little more than a dream. Hulk enters this conversation in a pretty interesting way. Most people have a passing understanding of Hulk's origin, probably less so than Spider-Man or Batman but more than Ghost Rider or Daredevil. After all, there had been a 1970's era TV series starring Lou Ferrigno and a few made-for-TV movies. This leaves enough space to tell an interesting story but enough foundation for an audience to know they should expect some smashing. Director Ang Lee went pretty heavy on the former and maybe just a little light on the latter.
The hunt for Karli Morgenthau continues, especially now that she has murdered GRC workers. It turns out all of this could have been avoided if Hulk had thought through restoring everyone's homes, bank accounts, credit scores, and legal documents when he brought them back from the dead in Endgame, but that's what happens when you trust a scientist to use godlike powers to restore half the universe instead of a bureaucrat. Sam reminds us in this episode that Karli's fight is not unreasonable. After the SnapTM, countries opened their borders and welcomed new workers into vacant homes and jobs. Now, those same countries are returning to old ethnic tensions and hard borders. That leads all those displaced persons look to Karli for help as they eke out a living in GRC camps. Into this mess we drop our heroes (and a few villains).
The third episode of "Falcon and the Winter Soldier" brings a few familiar faces from the Captain America franchise back into the story. Bucky and Sam enlist Baron Zemo to help them track down the Super Soldier Serum, and Sharon Carter resurfaces after not being seen since "Civil War". This episode is the right mix of character development and action, let's see if we can peel back some layers and understand exactly what happened.
The Punisher is one of the most challenging comic book heroes to try to adapt on screen. In a lot of ways, he's just a guy. Sure, he's a guy with enough firepower to occupy a small country, legendary combat skills, and more baggage than a 747, but he's still different from most comic book heroes. He doesn't have superpowers or a brightly colored spandex suit to fit into. He's not particularly wealthy or intelligent in the Reed Richards sense, nor is he mystical in the Stephen Strange sense. Frank Castle is just someone out to punish evildoers and maybe, while he's at it, get revenge for his murdered family too.
What happens when you cast a prominent actor known for a lead role in an action TV series to star in a comic book movie spinoff from an existing franchise? Obviously you end up with... a commercial and critical flop that becomes a byword for missteps in the genre. Wait, that can't be right.