This week, Nathan and Anatole tackle that the big-screen debut of Marvel's jolly green giant, Hulk (2003), the superhero movie that remains controversial among fans of Marvel as well as those of star Eric Bana and of course, the movie's Oscar-winning director, Ang Lee.
Hulk is one of those characters on whom the jury is perpetually out as to whether he is filmable. At his purest, the Hulk is the epitome of rage and destruction, a metaphor for science's power to destroy and humanity's constant struggle to control the beast within. In the comics, after Bruce Banner gets accidentally exposed to gamma radiation, he physically transforms into the Hulk whenever he's stressed, both on or against his will. Fittingly, co-creator Stan Lee was heavily inspired by Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, since at its core, the story is about a duality at odds with each other.
There's also a consensus among academics and fans of the character that the Hulk is a statement against war. Bruce Banner is always okay when left alone. And the Hulk is most peaceful when left alone. It's only when the military inevitably gets involved that the Hulk's destruction scales to far more catastrophic levels, potentially threatening many civilians caught in the crossfire (although the Hulk is at times careful to avoid those casualties, something not even Zack Snyder's Superman can do).
Starting as a reflection against Cold War anxieties, the character has been used as a sounding board to criticize Vietnam and most recently the Iraq war.
Given the lofty discussion and high concepts, many have run into the problem of carrying through these ideas while also giving the Hulk something anthropomorphic to punch. And to date, there have been three attempts at varying (and increasing) levels of success, with arguably the most successful being Mark Ruffalo's portrayal in 2012's Marvel's The Avengers.
In 2008, Edward Norton also laid down his mark on the character with a grounded take on Bruce Banner while also delivering on the knock-down, drag-out fight that had been until then missing.
Today's episode, then, features the first attempt at bringing the Hulk to the big screen. With an Oscar-winning director and Oscar-nominated star, the talent should've been poised to deliver a successful experiment. Did it work? And most importantly, was Anatole able to convince Nathan of the movie's merits?
In this episode, Nathan and Anatole are also joined by filmmaker Alex Daniels from Reel Creative Media.
As always, feel free to let us know what you thought of Ang Lee's Hulk when you first saw it.