Hulk
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo from Universal Pictures

For those of you who remember The Hulk TV show, the latest movie version, Hulk, sticks to similar psychological ingredients in the story line. Dr. Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) has a serious anger management problem, which literally turns him into a green monster. Unlike many comic book heroes, his newfound physical power is more of a curse than an asset.

In the movie, Bruce’s extreme anger reaction is the fault of his mad scientist father (Nick Nolte) who experiments on his own DNA code and passes on mutated genes to his son. Extreme father-son and father-daughter relationships play an important part in this film. Banner’s girlfriend and fellow researcher, Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly), has a four star general for a father (Sam Elliott). When Bruce transforms into the Hulk, the general does everything he can to destroy him.

In both cases it’s the children who are the voice of reason against the extremities of their fathers. When Banner’s father encourages his son to be himself, Bruce has a healthy fear of the rage that dwells inside him. “What scares me the most,” Bruce confesses to his girlfriend, “is that… when I totally lose control, I like it.” When Betty’s father uses every weapon in the US arsenal to destroy the Hulk, Betty understands that the more her father escalates the violence to eliminate the Hulk’s threat, the stronger and more destructive the Hulk becomes.

It’s these voices of reason against the sins of their fathers that represent the good verses evil in this comic book tale. Super powers are not used to conquer evil. In this film, we see that the best thing we can do with super powers is to learn how to control them, to find a balance that resists asserting those powers, in the case of the US government, thereby calming or preventing the Hulk’s rage. If this sounds more like world news than a movie about a comic book character, it may simply be that art often reflects real life, providing us with a parable that helps us to see and see again in a different light.

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