Thursday, May 3, 2012

Avengers Assemble: Hulk aka Dr. Bruce Banner

The Hulk or Dr. Bruce Banner is another creation from the brilliant minds of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.  Dr. Bruce Banner was a mild mannered, emotionally stunted genius who created a gamma bomb.  The gamma bomb exploded causing Bruce Banner's emotional distress to shape his transformation to the Hulk.  While the Hulk;s color, origin, and characterizations have changed throughout the years, these are the basic principles that remain the same.  The Hulk's first appearance was in The Incredible Hulk #1.  The original series only lasted 6 issues, but the Hulk made a quick appearance in The Fantastic Four #12 and soon became a founding member of The Avengers in their first issue.

While the Hulk story has been retold many times the basic premise still is there.  Stan Lee is cited as saying that Hulk origin came from combining a lot of different stories.  Lee stated ""I combined Jekyll and Hyde with Frankenstein," he explains, "and I got myself the monster I wanted, who was really good, but nobody knew it. He was also somebody who could change from a normal man into a monster, and lo, a legend was born." Lee remembers, "I had always loved the old movie Frankenstein. And it seemed to me that the monster, played by Boris Karloff, wasn't really a bad guy. He was the good guy. He didn't want to hurt anybody. It's just those idiots with torches kept running up and down the mountains, chasing him and getting him angry. And I thought, 'Wouldn't it be fun to create a monster and make him the good guy?"

While I have never been a fan of the character listening to Lee's explanation of the character's origins is fascinating. The problem with the Hulk is that beyond this logic he has two problems.  The first major problem I see is the reason many people find Superman boring, the Hulk has this eternal invincibility that is almost unstoppable.  While the character appears to have emotional vulnerabilities the Hulk was never a character I gravitated towards.  I think the second problem is that that every good hero deserves a great foe, and I never remember him having one, that made his struggle worth the journey.  

I have never seen either of the Hulk films.  The first film entitled Hulk (2003) was directed by the genius director Ang Lee and starred Eric Bana as Dr. Bruce Banner.  From what I heard Lee's artistic style was lost within this genre.  The film series was re-launched five years later in 2008.  The Incredible Hulk was directed by Louis Leterrier, and starred Edward Norton in the role of Dr. Bruce Banner.  Norton is a brilliant actor who was cited as being a major improvement on Bana, and the film received slightly better feedback than the first screen version.  In The Avengers Dr. Bruce Banner has another new actor, Mark Ruffalo.  While Marvel stated that Norton was not joining because Norton did not embody the spirit of the role, Norton's agent sided money as the factor.  The key to this role is Bruce Banner, but I am looking forward to watching the big green guy smash stuff with the other super heroes on the big screen at midnight tonight.

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