Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It Ain't Easy Being Green

     The Hulk is something else. It is safe to say that there is no other character like him in the entire Marvel Universe. He is difficult to define in the sense that he isn’t a villain, but he can’t be classified as a hero due to all the lives he’s destroyed. Whether it was due to the people he’s injured on his rampages or the money he’s cost them in property damage. But whether he has been defined as a villain, a hero or a monster, people still seem to enjoy him in comics, although I must admit that the Hulk has struggled over the years to become a fan favorite. What was an original and interesting idea when Stan Lee first created him has now “dried up” and doesn’t seem all too interesting anymore.

     In the early 1960’s, the Hulk’s debut comic hit the newsstands and was unlike anything anyone had ever read before. The Hulk wasn’t an alien sent to Earth from another planet, or an orphan whose parents were gunned down in front of him and a radioactive spider didn’t bite him. The Hulk was a gamma radiation scientist named Bruce Banner (the name varied between Bruce and David Banner). During an experiment involving gamma radiation, Banner is caught in a massive blast and the radiation infects him causing him to transform into a horrible monster whenever he feels anger or frustration. The story seems descent enough, and in the few years after the premiere of his first issue, the Hulk was a huge success. His famousness really skyrocketed when he became a member of the Avengers, and he became one of the elite “heroes” of the Marvel Universe. The Hulk had huge success when a television series, starring Bill Bixby as Banner and Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk, aired. He was the perfect character for a television series in the 70’s, with a low need for special effects, making it easy to fake his super-strength (just by recreating heavy objects using light materials). The show was very well liked by fans along with an animated Hulk series that aired shortly after the end of the Bixby/ Ferrigno series. This animated series was a good animated adaptation of the Hulk from the comics.

     The Hulk’s reputation began to slip around the time that the animated series was released in 1996. The show was adored by kids, like myself at that time, but lacked the defined storytelling and character development that other Marvel animated series had at that time like the X-men and Spiderman cartoons. Without a season-long story arc like the X-men or Spiderman, the Hulk had a lot of solo stories that didn’t stood out in the bad way. Plus, the Hulk only had a handful of villains, which made it pretty difficult for the writers of the show to come up with good scenarios. The way the creators made the show more exciting was by adding an assortment of heroes and villains from across the Marvel Universe. Heroes like Ghost Rider, Ironman and War Machine appeared in a number of episodes and every time they made an appearance they would bring a rogue from their own gallery to keep the episode action-packed. His reputation took a nosedive when the movie “Hulk” was released in 2003. The film had a lot of hype, following the release of other Marvel films like “X-Men” and “Spiderman”, but the movie just didn’t live up to it’s expectations. The acting didn’t make me fall in love with the characters (I almost felt like I wanted the Hulk to just give up and get caught), the action scenes seemed a bit random and more importantly, the story wasn’t deep enough to draw the audience in. And when the story isn’t intriguing or captivating then the whole movie falls apart.

     Rest assured Hulk fans, the character was able to win your hearts once again with the release of the 2008 film, “The Incredible Hulk” starring Edward Norton. He film was much more well received then the one starring Eric Bana in 2003, but it still didn’t live up to expectations regarding it’s connection with the Ironman films and the upcoming Avengers movie. Peaking of the Avengers, I hope the Hulk can find new life in the new movie coming out in a couple months. The Hulk was once a unique and lovable character. As a personal fan of the Hulk, I hope he can become that character once again, but I guess we’ll find out on May 4th.

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