The man and the monster

I’ve always been fond of the Hulk. And I quite enjoyed The Incredible Hulk – mainly because I think Edward Norton is excellent. So I was worried about what we were going to get in The Avengers.

I didn’t have to be. Mark Ruffalo is now my Bruce Banner for ever and ever.

Halfway through The Avengers, we have Hulk as the out-of-control monster; at the end, that rage is focused, and the monster becomes a weapon. And I know the sharpness of that change bothered some people.

But in The Incredible Hulk, we see that the monster is capable of recognising the woman Banner loves, of defending her. So the Hulk is not all rage and property damage all the time. He learns, and is capable of compassion. I haven’t read many Hulk comics, but that’s there in those I have.

 

You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

When Bruce first Hulks out, he is angry. Natasha tries to talk him down, but she’s the thing he’s angry at. Maybe not the mind, but certainly the hand that dragged him into this mess. She’s lied to him, repeatedly. It’s just you and me. There’s no cage.

And Bruce stays calm, as if he’s okay with this, and he swallows her lies, because what’s his other option? Only the very thing he’s running from.

And if we take the Hulk as an amplification of Bruce’s anger: well, Natasha should be afraid.

But we know from The Incredible Hulk that anger is not the sum total of the Hulk’s emotional range. He protects Betty, whom Bruce loves.

So, if Tony is someone whom Bruce genuinely likes and connects with – it might be a very new connection, but Bruce has few enough friends these days – well, then it’s no surprise that the Hulk would then look out for him, and act from concern for him.

That’s not a leap. It’s not a sudden penchant for team-play that comes out of nowhere.

Now, the Hulk punches Thor in the final battle. To remind us that the Hulk is not entirely under control. Also, because it’s funny.

At this point, we know we don’t have to worry the Hulk might hurt Thor. Thor can hold his own. We know this, and if the Hulk remembers and learns, then he knows too.

So does Bruce. There is a moment, much earlier in the movie, when a comment is made that a whole town was levelled because of Thor.

And hang on, isn’t that something people throw at the Hulk? And Bruce gives Thor this look. Like, he’s not alone. Sometimes masses of property damage are inevitable.

Because of that moment, I have it in my head that the Hulk punching Thor is just the equivalent of a bro-fist. Thor can take it. He just needs to remember who’s boss, right?

 

So, if I accept that the Hulk has awareness of the relationships and people that matter to Bruce …

… and those that Bruce might never articulate to himself, because that might be to admit that he and the Hulk are one and the same

… and the Hulk has a protective streak

… why, then I don’t find it a stretch that the Hulk would fight alongside our heroes, for something Bruce believes is important – important enough that he would choose to be ‘the other guy’.

Bruce has to set aside his anger, to go back and fight alongside people who have used him. He could have got away clean.

But sometimes you need the Hulk. (And doesn’t Tony have faith that Bruce would be back?)

Bruce becomes the Hulk then because he has a purpose. And the Hulk’s purposes are Bruce’s.

Maybe Bruce wanted to die, at one point. But I don’t think that he and the Hulk are so separate that there wasn’t a part of Bruce that wanted to live.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>