A couple of weeks ago I began a new series of posts, this time looking at the different characters who will be in the movie The Avengers. I opened the series by looking at Thor and guessing how the events of his own movie would affect him when he has to act as part of a team. It is now time to look at another one of the superheroes who makes up the Avengers team.
After the dismal reception of the film Hulk, which starred Eric Bana, the franchise attempted a reboot. The Incredible Hulk starred Edward Norton and, interestingly, was not an origin story. The film opened with a montage of footage that established the new back-story for the gigantic, green superhero. In this canon, Bruce Banner is an ingenious scientist who believes he has found a technology that will create some kind of “super soldier” through the use of Gamma radiation.
With the help of his girlfriend Betty and her father, General Ross, he experiments with the technology on himself. Something goes wrong with the experiment and the Hulk is created. He completely rips apart the lab and ends up injuring Betty and the General. Horrified by what has happened and not wanting the General to be able to use him in his dream of creating a super soldier, Bruce runs. (As a fun side note, during this montage there are several shots of official documents and the words Stark Enterprises as well as Nick Fury are sprinkled throughout.)
Once the origin of the Hulk is established, the film then follows Bruce, who has been hiding in Brazil, as he attempts to learn how to suppress the Hulk and searches for a cure. He is soon discovered by the General and forced to flee, eventually returning home.
Bruce Banner is a fascinating character. He is very mild mannered (not to be confused with Clark Kent) and, in many ways, a broken man. He hates what has happened to him and what it turns him into. We get to see him become the Hulk on several occasions in the film and it is fairly clear from the beginning that Bruce has very little control over what he does when he is in that state. He is ruled by the anger that elicited the Hulk in the first place and his behavior is very impulsive. With his huge size and skin so tough it is pretty much bullet-proof, he is a near indestructible force that can cause irreparable damage to the environment and people around him.
That is, until he comes in contact with Betty.
Even in the deepest throws of one of his Hulk rages, the Bruce underneath is able to recognize Betty and control his actions so that he protects her. Bruce is slow to accept the knowledge that he can learn to control the Hulk because he is still holding out for a cure, but eventually he does recognize that it is possible. The film ends with him fleeing once more to escape being used by the General. He takes up residence in British Columbia and, in one of the final shots of the film (the final shot is Stark showing up to tell the General of a team he is assembling), we see that he is working on developing control over the Hulk.
The Hulk is the one instance in The Avengers where they were forced to get a different actor. Bruce Banner will be played by Mark Ruffalo instead of Norton and, I have to say, I am excited to see what Ruffalo does with the character. I think that will be able to do a great job capturing the reserved manner that Bruce has. I am curious to learn how much control Bruce has developed during whatever period of time has elapsed. Before the end of his own film he had only been able to control the Hulk with the influence of Betty, has he learned control it without her? It should be really interesting to see.
I am also excited to see how this character, who has been forced to learn how to live in a state of constant control, will interact and survive in the midst of a group of egotistical hotheads. We haven’t seen a whole lot of Bruce in the trailers, but the little we have seen leads me to believe that there will be some fairly humorous interactions between him and the others, especially Stark.
For whatever reason, people have not responded to films about the Hulk in the same way as they have other superhero movies and it makes me a little sad. I really like the tortured character of Bruce. Everything about him and his green companion comes from a deep place of emotion and humanity. I am very much looking forward to seeing him on the big screen in May.
Are you excited to see the Hulk in The Avengers? How do you think the reserved Bruce Banner will interact with the other members of the Avengers team? Are you happy with the casting change from Norton to Ruffalo? Let me know in the comments.