MCU Mondays: The Incredible Hulk - The Illusion of Control
(I apologize in advance for the lack of video clips)
While it doesn’t get a lot of love from fans or critics (It’s often treated like it doesn’t exist), 2008’s THE INCREDIBLE HULK, the second offering from Marvel studios, is not a abd film. And, truth be told, I vastly prefer Edward Norton over Mark Ruffalo as Banner, even though Ruffalo’s version was quite good. One of the things that make HULK unique from the other Phase 1 films is that the titular character is a fugitive, both from the authorities and from himself. Unlike the other heroes who employ most of their self-loathing prior to be reborn an Avenger, Banner liked himself better before going through his rebirth process than he ever could afterwards.
(Also, for the record, opening credits are pretty amazing)
There are two major semi-theological themes I picked-up on watching HULK, the first of which is the illusion of control, particularly applicable to believers. In the film’s opening minutes, all the way from the credits to the first, fantastic “Hulk” sequence in the empty factory, we see Bruce Banner trying every way he knows how to control the monster within himself.
Now, I’m not going the obvious route here and comparing Banner’s rage-induced Hulk persona to our sin nature for two reasons: One, it’s a cop-out and, two, it’s inaccurate. Hulk doesn’t represent sin; he represents uncontrollable, unstoppable power. And maybe righteous indignation.
He is more analogous to the presence of God in the believer than he is to our sin nature.
I see in Banner’s attempt to control his inner Hulk-ness the same desire Christians often have to corral the presence of God in their lives, those souls who only wish for God to assert Himself within them when it is convenient and/or superficially beneficial. Also note-worthy is Banner’s desire to assist a woman being harassed by some co-workers being hampered by his hesitance to put himself in a situation where he might lose control.
Throughout the film Banner is working with a figure called Mr. Blue to try and find a cure for his condition. Or at least something that will grant him the ability to more fully control it.
Forgive me for perhaps being overly-literal here, but this is a struggle many Christians demonstrate in their daily lives. That is, the reluctance to fully give themselves over to the presence of God within them. It might lead us to uncomfortable places and around uncomfortable people. We might have to give things up, or take on new things. But so long as we waver between two natures, between to masters, we will never fully know the power of who we’ve been made to be.
I’ll leave with the same question I closed with Sunday night, and I invite you to sound off in the comments:
Who is responsible for the deaths caused by the Hulk?
Next time, on MCU Mondays.
 At the end of the film we see Banner essentially give control to Hulk, putting himself at the complete mercy of that aspect of his personality. Although initially cast in a bit of a foreboding light, we see in THE AVENGERS, that this is a choice that nets positive results for Hulk and Banner alike.