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A Different Take on the Incredible Hulk



Posted by Steve

As I said in the latest episode of Geek Out Loud, I am really looking forward to next Summer’s THE INCREDIBLE HULK.  Everything that I’ve read or heard (with the exception of a few tidbits about the script that leaked around six months ago) has given me high hopes for Marvel’s big screen relaunch of the franchise.

For whatever reason, I’ve been going back and watching a lot of the original television episodes of the Incredible Hulk starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno.   I loved the show as a kid and my favorite part was when David Banner would get tossed into a room, or over a counter, or down some steps, or wherever and his eyes would go that whitish-green color and the clothes would begin to rip and then when all of the mean people thought they had everything in hand…BOOM!  Here comes the Hulk.

My favorite part of the show as an adult is when David Banner gets tossed into a room, or over a counter…well, you don’t need another run-on sentence, you get the idea.

While it is a show from the late seventies/early eighties, and the acting is a bit over the top sometimes, it still has a timeless feel and a heart that makes the show enjoyable to watch even to this day.

Last night, I was watching an episode entitled “Kindred Spirit.”  The episode is about a group of archeologists digging on the territory of the Navajo when they find a cave painting depicting a man growing into something else.  The lead archeologist thinks that it is the link between primitive man and modern day man.  Dr. David Banner (physician, scientist) thinks otherwise.  As he joins the dig team and begins to help unlock the mystery of this ancient Hulk, we find that some among the Navajo people feel like they are being exploited and recieving nothing from the white man for the desecration of their sacred burial grounds.

In one scene, Lone Wolf, the elder chieftan of this particular group, portrayed by Chief Dan George, tells some young boys of the first hunter.  He is describing this ancient Hulk.  One of the boys asks him, “Why green?”

Lone Wolf’s answer is one that I have never known to be explored in the comics or any other adaptation of the Hulk:  “To be above hate…If he were any of the colors of man, that race would think they were superior.  So he is green…the only one.”

While comic writers and movie makers have for years focused primarily on the savage nature of the Hulk or the splintered nature of Bruce Banner’s psyche, one thing that was apparent from earlier issues of the Hulk has gotten lost in the mix.  The Hulk’s ready acceptance of anyone no matter the race, creed, or color, as long as they accepted him.

I always had a problem with referring to the green, unintelligent Hulk, as “savage.”  Because to me, he never was savage.  He was fierce, he was a force to be reckoned with, he could cause incredible destruction, but it was never really the Hulk who just decided to wreck things.  He was almost always provoked.  The Hulk, as has been pointed out by many writers, is almost like a child.  He says he wants to be left alone, but what he really wants is acceptance.  He doesn’t want to hurt anyone, but he doesn’t know how to keep his tantrums in check.

Anywho, the idea of the Hulk being “beyond hate” is a unique view of the character and one that I really like.  Why?  Because more than anything the Hulk is beyond hate.  Yeah, he hates the army, he hates General Ross, right now in the comics he hates Reed Richards, Tony Stark, and Dr. Strange, but at his core, he doesn’t really hate.  He knows passion, he knows rage, but it comes from hurt.  It comes from being misunderstood.

Therein lies the real tragedy of th Incredible Hulk.  Not that Bruce Banner is cursed to become the monster whenever he becomes outraged, not that his life has been destroyed because of the monster, but that he never took the time to understand the Hulk.  He never took the time to realize that the Hulk is Banner and Banner is the Hulk.  They aren’t two separate beings, they are one and the same.   Bruce has used to the Hulk, controlled the Hulk, and separated himself from the Hulk, but he has never sought to understand him.  If he did, the story would shift dramamtically.

In a time when most people look at the Hulk as nothing more than a big monster that’s going to give us the fun of seeing things smashed to bits, I hope that Marvel will take Hulk back to being a hero.   He is after all a hero.  I’ll admit, he’s one of the original anti-heroes, but a hero nonetheless.

I guess that’s what I always liked about the Hulk.  We all at some point in our lives feel like we’re misunderstood, we all want to lash out.   The Hulk is the ultmate outsider.  He is the pinnacle of being misunderstood.  And he has no comunctions about lashing out.  But as deeply as he feels mistunderstood, as savagely as he lashes out, he knows compassion for his friends.   He will accept a friend no matter what.  He is the Hulk.  Unbridled emotion for the bad…and the good.  

I just thought it was neat that here is a take on the Hulk that has seldom been explored.  His compassion.   His total lack of prejudice.     The Hulk is a Hero. 

If you really want to have some fun check out some of the DVD’s below and support the site while you’re at it.

The Incredible Hulk: The Complete Second Season

The Incredible Hulk Returns / The Trial of the Incredible Hulk

The Death of the Incredible Hulk