This is the third in my series taking about superhero characters. In my kickoff post I explained how in some ways they are the modern Gods – created in our image to put into stories to help us understand ourselves better. This time I’m looking at The Hulk, a brutish misfit with near limitless strength.
Bruce Banner, scientist, exploring the mysteries of gamma radiation is caught in a blast while saving the life of a foolish kid who wandered into the test area. Instead of dying, the blast transforms him. Normally a genius of no great physical strength, when he becomes angry a startling metamorphosis occurs. Banner transforms into a green, shirt (but not pants) splitting monster with phenominal strength and endurance. The Hulk is one of the strongest beings on the planet, and woe be to anyone that crosses his path. Scared of hurting someone he loves, and often hunted by the government and other groups, Banner now walks the earth looking for a way to quell the raging beast that dwells within him. More or less, anyway.
Why we love him
The Hulk is our inner demon. The one we often wish to loose on the world, but are forever struggling to keep bottled up.
Inside all of us is an anger, a devil, that we often wish to set free. It may be a brief rage at someone who cuts you off in traffic, or a deeper anger at an injustice that hit you or your family. You clench your fists, you grind your teeth, you glare, but you keep it under control… barely. You know it would feel good in the short term to unleash, but in the long term the damage would be too great. Watching the Hulk, we vicariously get to watch someone who has no way to stop his demon take it out in ways we wish we could.
When we unleash our fury, we want to believe nobody could stand in our way. We would triumph in our own furious quest. For the Hulk, this is basically true. The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets. He will tear apart buildings, uproot trees, and bring down mountains if necessary to destroy the object of his anger. The Hulk may be nearly mindless, but he will never be thwarted in his quest. He is nearly a force of Nature, and able to exact his revenge as we always wished we could.
As A Character
Though not as complex as may superheroes, the Hulk’s focus is what makes him great. He is our raging, unfettered Id turned loose in the way we both wish for and fear. Hulk does what we cannot, and pays the price for it. We hope Banner finds his peace, yet delight every time picks up another boulder to hurl. Even the gentlest of us have wanted to unleash like the Hulk at times because, as he so eloquently puts it, “Hulk Smash!”