Do you ever wonder, dear readers, if Hollywood and Marvel Studios might be selling themselves short and underestimating moviegoers? Do you ever think that we as audiences have gotten to a point where all we seem to want is the blockbuster action film, where we can mindlessly munch popcorn & chug sodas while watching explosions & destruction taking place in big-screen, high definition glory right in front of us? Do you ever feel that we deserve a more cerebral superhero film?
I do. So much so, in fact, that ever since the news broke about the Hulk being a large part of Thor: Ragnarok, a colleague and I have been talking about our disappointment in the big green guy’s (and Bruce Banner’s) character development across all of the Hulk movies. Aside from the awful 2003 Ang Lee/Eric Bana version of the story, and the only marginally less bad Louis Leterrier/Edward Norton version from 2008, we are given very little coherent exposition about who Bruce Banner is internally, and how he could be carrying around so much rage inside. In talking about this, we came up with a different way of looking at Bruce Banner’s story, and thought that we would share it with you all.
The key focus of a movie like this, would be a look at Banner himself, and how he struggles to come to grips with having his monstrous temper, as well as overcoming his fear & guilt at having lost control so many times. What would set this version apart, however, would be the perspective from which it was told. Imagine if you will, a film where we only see Bruce Banner beginning to change into the Hulk, but then the scene ends & cuts to him waking up after the destruction. Neither the character or the audience would have any idea what has transpired, and only see the events unfold on news broadcasts. This would allow for a look into the grief & guilt that being the Hulk would burden a person with, and also give audiences a look at what happens to the how Bruce Banner persona during his fugue states.
A few key plot point ideas could be that the story would be set in Harlem, prior to the events of The Avengers, so that audiences could see the point in time (briefly referenced in The Avengers) when Dr. Banner changed into the Hulk in the subway, ultimately resulting in him “breaking Harlem”. This would be the first time in the film that the audience would experience the changeover, setting the stage for how the perspective would play out. The film could also delve into Banner’s escape to India (where he was eventually tracked down by Black Widow), and his subsequent suicide attempt wherein “the other guy” spat out the bullet. Finally, the climactic end sequence would see Banner entering a meditative state, in which he faces off against his green alter ego in the landscape of his own mind. Banner & the Hulk go toe-to-toe, and we’d get a symbolic moment of Banner finally gaining control over “the other guy”. At this point, Dr. Banner could come out of the meditative state, stand up, and transform at will while walking off toward the horizon. Roll credits.
Let’s face it: at this point, Marvel pretty much has carte blanche to print money. The majority of their movies have been smash hits, with their profits far exceeding their individual budgets. Therefore, I feel like they could be given some leeway to do something a little more adult & deep with the characters who already exist in the MCU. Also, since Tony Stark, Thor, and Steve Rogers all have had some exposition given to their stories, why not Bruce Banner?
Not only would a film like this be an interesting perspective on a well-known character, but it would also give more (previously unseen) insight on who Bruce Banner is as a person, and what he struggles with. In addition, this could potentially also bring in viewers who are not necessarily fans of the action genre, or who were previously not necessarily comic book readers. In some cases, the most relatable movies are man vs himself, so this would also appeal to both the indie film crowd, and the fans who have loved Marvel comics for more than just the action.
At its core, the Bruce Banner/Hulk storyline is about dealing with internal turmoil, and fighting one’s own demons. In Banner’s case, that “demon” just happens to be personified as a giant, green, rage-monster, whom he turns into whenever he’s overwhelmed by anger, fear, or pain. It’s my opinion that audiences deserve to be rewarded with a look at the deep & interesting character behind the monster, and I think we should trust Marvel & Disney to bring it out, if they’re willing to take that chance.
Tell us what you think, dear readers! Let us know in the comments section if you think that Marvel could (or should) be expanding their storytelling to include more cerebral stories.