Pilot Movie: "The Incredible Hulk"
November 4, 1977
A research scientist experiments on himself and is accidentally and unknowingly exposed to a massive dose of gamma radiation. Henceforth, when he becomes angry or outraged, he transforms into the rampaging, powerful green creature dubbed the "Incredible Hulk."
- Bill Bixby ... David Banner
- Susan Sullivan ... Dr. Elaina Marks
- Jack Colvin ... Jack McGee
- Lou Ferrigno ... Hulk
- Susan Batson ... Mrs. Maier
- Mario Gallo ... Mr. Bram
- Eric Server ... Policeman
- Charles Siebert ... Ben
- Terence Locke ... Young Man
- June Whitley Taylor ... Woman
- George Brenlin ... Man At Lake
- Jake Mitchell ... Jerry
- William Larsen ... Minister
- Olivia Barash ... Girl at Lake
- Eric Deon ... B.J.
It has been almost 11 months since Doctor David Bruce Banner lost his beloved wife Laura in a car accident. Since then he has had recurring nightmares of the event and not even Dr. Elaina Marks, his research partner at The Culver Institute can help rouse him from his anguish. He becomes even more morose when a subject they are interviewing describes the exact same car crash that David had, only the woman was able to lift the car and save her son. David and Elaina are studying the abnormal strength and abilities that come to people in moments of crisis; something that David believes if he had, he would have been able to save his wife. Why, David wonders, were they able to tap into that strength and he could not? Jack McGee, a reporter for The National Register, is also interested in the research and brusquely asks David for an interview, which he declines, knowing full well the quality of newspaper McGee works for.
As David and Elaina continue interviewing subjects and studying test samples of their blood they eventually discover that all the subjects had a unique deviation in their DNA structure. At first, David is relieved; obviously he does not have this trait until his blood is checked and not only does he have it but its more abnormal than the others. That night, David stays late at the lab, trying to solve the mystery. By accident, he discovers that in each of the subject's cases, there was high sunspot activity but in David's case there was low activity. In sunspots large quantities of gamma rays are emitted which have been known to interfere with biological activity. Anxious to tell Elaina of this development, but unwilling to wait till morning, David heads to the radiology department and subjects himself to a concentrated dose of gamma radiation. However, unknown to him, the machine has been re-calibrated to emit a higher output and David receives far more than his intended dosage. When it appears that nothing has changed, the frustrated scientist heads home, but he has a blowout and as he tries to change the tire in the middle of the night in a heavy rainstorm the anger and tension of the last few days boils to the surface and David Banner suddenly begins to change, transforming into a huge, green skinned giant who demolishes the car and throws it into a ditch where it explodes. Howling his rage to the sky, the creature stalks off into the night.
The next morning, The thing that had once been David Banner encounters a father and his daughter fishing by a lake. The girl is so terrified she falls into the lake, but the creature pushes a tree into the water for the girl to cling to. The father shoots at the monster, wounding it in the shoulder. It then crushes the rifle with his bare hands and flings the father into the lake, then skulks away into the forest. A short while later, the creature stops by a stream. Seeing its reflection for the first time, it touches the water in puzzlement. And slowly the creature changes back into David Banner once more.
Elaina Marks' morning is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of David Banner; half-naked and with a gunshot wound in the shoulder. Although he can't remember anything after he started to change the tire, he does have vague memories of feeling incredibly strong; of someone else being with him and seeing his white eyes in the stream. Elaina starts to dress his wound, and notices that it's almost completely healed. David then tells her about his discovery last night and his gamma injection. As the two scientists wonder what to do next, there's a knock at the door. David hides in the bedroom as Elaina meets Jack McGee; again attempting an interview. Elaina deflects the reporter's request and sends him away, but not before he catches sight of David.
David and Elaina return to The Culver Institute where they quickly learn of the higher dosage. Deciding to be cautious they move to the Southwest Lab, an isolated building on the Institute grounds which contains a hyperbaric chamber used for deep-sea experiments. David seals himself in the chamber while Elaina monitors his body functions. Believing that more research is needed, the two try to recreate the environment of that night to provoke the feeling of strength but to no avail. Frustrated once again, David goes to sleep only to have another nightmare of his wife's death which wakes him abruptly with glowing white eyes.
Elaina is startled by a cessation in David's brain activity and when she goes to the chamber to investigate, a massive green fist shatters the six-inch plate glass window. Terrified, Elaina watches as the creature that David Banner has become rips its way through the hyperbaric chamber; tearing the two-foot chromium steel walls like they were cardboard. Within minutes it is free, but amazingly it doesn't attack Elaina. Instead, she is able to calm it down, draw a sample of blood from its bruised knuckles, and sit it down to rest. Where before her eyes it once again changes back to David Banner.
The next morning, The two scientists survey the destruction. They now realize that its deep emotional commitment or anger that triggers the metamorphosis. David is appalled; since the creature appears to have a childlike intelligence and no emotional control it could easily have killed someone if it has not already. Elaina disagrees, believing that while the creature is "an outgrowth of David Banner. [His] primitive emotions run wild", it is not a killer, because David is not a killer. The debate is interrupted by a state trooper who informs David that they located his destroyed car and wants to know why it wasn't reported. Jack McGee is also there, carrying a plaster cast of a huge footprint found by the road where David's car was found, although the trooper does not believe that the footprint is authentic. McGee then relates the father and daughter's tale of their encounter with a "big hulk" and asks the two scientists if they know anything about it. When they deny any knowledge, he tries to convince them to let him into the lab to discuss things further but Elaina makes up an excuse to keep him out. The persistent reporter heads back to his car only to wait a safe distance from the lab. When David and Elaina head for the main building to try curing him through x-ray therapy, McGee sneaks back to the lab. Finding a way in, he sees the demolished hyperbaric chamber along with a footprint in the dust that matches the one he found. When David and Elaina return unexpectedly he hides in a storage closet and overhears the two talking about packing up their research and finding a safer place.When Elaina asks about their "friend" returning, David talks about a heavily constructed radiation vault that might be able to hold it. When David goes to the closet for supplies, he finds McGee who confidently reveals himself and is unaware that he has knocked over several bottles of chemicals which are now leaking out onto the floor.The scientists threaten to call the police on McGee but he calls their bluff, having heard their plans to cover up the damaged lab. He knows the two are hiding something about the creature and demands they come forward and tell him. David continues to deny any knowledge as he leads McGee out of the lab, but the reporter keeps pushing him; calling him a liar.
David says in a very worried tone, "Mr. McGee, don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."
The chemicals in the storeroom continue to leak, forming a steaming puddle that flows toward a pile of sacks labeled "DANGER". Too late, Elaina realizes something is wrong and has just enough time to call out to David before a powerful explosion tears through the lab, knocking the two men off their feet. Frantically, David races to the side of the burning building where he sees Elaina, unconscious and buried by a concrete beam in the middle of the inferno. The flames are too intense to get through and as David calls out to her helplessly, he changes once more into the creature who easily tears through the wall, jumps over the flames, lifts the debris off Elaina, and leaps up to the main lobby. McGee regains his senses just in time to see the creature walk out of the lab with Dr. Marks in his arms and off into the forest. McGee tries to follow but his leg is broken from the fall and all he can do is watch in horror as another explosion destroys what's left of the lab.
Some distance away, the creature sets Elaina gently to the ground. She regains consciousness but she knows that her injuries are fatal. The creature can sense it as well and he looks at her with tears in his eyes. Elaina wonders who will take of "David" now and finally admits that she has loved him for a very long time and that she always will. As Elaina Marks breathes her last, The thing that was David Banner howls his pain and sadness into the night.
Several days later, Jack McGee attends the funerals of Elaina Marks and David Banner. No one believed his story about the hulking creature who took Dr. Marks, but he is convinced that "The Hulk" is responsible for the fire that killed Dr. Marks and Dr. Banner (he saw David approach the building but never saw him leave). He's also given a description to all the law enforcement agencies who have issued a warrant for murder on The Hulk. He believes that sooner or later the creature will be caught, and when he is, it'll be the biggest story of the century.
Some time after the mourners have left, a lone figure approaches the grave sites David Banner. He pauses for a moment, lost in thought, remembering his last words with Elaina about finding a safe place to find a cure for him. He then tells Elaina that he loves her and that he thinks that she loved him, even though she never said it. Without another word, he walks away toward an uncertain future.
Richard Kiel was initially cast as the Hulk, but shortly after filming began, it became apparent to the producers that he wasn't "bulky" enough to play the role. If you look closely at the DVD, you can see a shot of Kiel as the Hulk in a brief high-angle scene (when he looks up at a tree).
"The Lonely Man" theme song played at the end was composed by Joe Harnell, and is used throughout the series.
The movie was theatrically released in parts of Europe.