Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

So who really stole the show in Avengers?

Well, there are a lot of great performances in that movie. Really, I think they did a great job! It’s just the right level of light-heartedness and drama, you know?

Sam Jackson was incredible (how could he not have been, in that part?). Robert Downey, Jr. is an actor’s actor. I thought Scarlett Johansson brought a lot more depth to Natasha Romanov than I expected to see (there are just one or two moments where she almost seems childlike, vulnerable and it hints at how tough things have been for her).

But Mark Ruffalo. WOW. Just: WOW. I think the internets have already lit up about this. I mean, I was really upset that Edward Norton wasn’t coming back for the role, but Ruffalo is bound to set a new wave of Hulk fans into motion.

Like a lot of great comics, I think Hulk has yet to have his real second renaissance as a character. It’s been kind of like the Fantastic Four: everyone loved it in the 60’s but I’m not sure if it’s quite crawled back to the height of popularity that it had when the 70’s T.V. show was in production.

I think Ang Lee’s Hulk is underrated. If there’s one concern with it, it might be that it straddles the line a little too much between representing the comic and representing that 70’s show. I think people loved the show the way you loved shows like The Fugitive. It had less to do with supervillains and more to do with Bruce Banner kind of ‘drifting’ in and out of trouble, all while trying to manage his Jekyll and Hyde condition.

Tragedy was the hallmark of this Hulk and Banner was like the heroic stranger who wanders into town and manages to use Hulk to set a few things right before he disappears into the night.

As time went on? Hulk got, well, weird, maybe. There were just so MANY Hulks in the comics. Joe Fixit, the ‘professor’ (where it was sort of like Banner walking around in Hulk’s body), Red Hulk. Hulk mythology is actually pretty out there.

And what I really do enjoy about Norton’s take on the character is that it draws so much from the comics.

I’m disappointed that this film probably won’t launch into a trilogy or anything because I really dug seeing Hulk go up against the Abomination and that creepy scene where Stern’s forehead starts to extend (the Leader is actually a pretty bizarre and frightening Hulk villain, I think). I’ll say this too: Hulk seems SCARY in this movie. Wild and uncontrollable. All that screaming gets under your skin.

But Ruffalo’s Hulk? Man…it’s like he straddles the same line that Ang Lee tried to but maybe with a little more grace?

And what I REALLY love about the performance is just three words: “the other guy." I LOVE that idea. The idea that Banner ISN’T Hulk. It’s like Hulk lives inside OF Banner and Banner is just as freaked out by ‘him’ as everyone else is. His greatest challenge is to come to peace with the fact that he shares a body with this thing that is alien and that he can’t control.

It makes Hulk sort of like the Boogeyman or something. He shouldn’t exist. Hulk is sort of literally NO ONE. He’s just like this monster that was spawned from Banner’s consciousness. So, in this way, Banner and Hulk have to learn to work together. It’s like a whacked-out buddy movie.

Anyway. Usually when these kind of things happen there’s a creative, watershed moment that follows. I suspect that you might see Banner come back to the forefront in the Marvel universe very shortly and for there to be strong writers and illustrators on any books over the next year. We’ll see…