I thought I’d write up first about the Hulk, my favorite of the Marvel superheroes. However, as you might have heard, there’s been some interesting shake ups not only to the status quo of both the comic book but also the film incarnations of the Hulk.
A little backstory-the Hulk was created in 1962 by Stan Lee (Who pretty much co-created all of the Marvel icons, with the exception of Wolverine-who, oddly enough-started out as a Hulk supporting character in an issue now worth a lot these days). Sort of a mix between Frankenstein (The general ‘look’ of the Hulk), Dr. Jekkyl and Mr. Hyde (One man a rational scientist, the other a destructive monster) and Godzilla (Indestructible creature spawned by radiation). Victim of a test gone horribly wrong, Basically when he gets angry or stressed, scientist Bruce Banner turns into the Hulk, an often destructive monster. the Hulk has been through several incarnations, although the most familiar to people is no doubt the Savage Hulk, who dominated the comic through most of the Seventies and is the Hulk most commonly potrayed in media spin-offs. Of course, the Hulk also spawned a memorable TV show (Which had little to actually do with the comics apart from the Hulk himself) and a few ‘toons and movies of varying quality.
It’s the movies I’ll discuss first. Both Hulk movies sort of suffered by trying to appeal to both fans of the comics and those who liked the TV show-just count the references to Bill Bixby, “David” Banner and of course the legendary “Don’t make me angry” line. This has also affected the comics at points, which often had Banner on the run going from town to town. But perhaps they’ve also suffered from the constant changes of the lead actor himself. While the Hulk is of course a computer generated creation, Bruce Banner is not, and now we’ve had three different Banners in as many films (The third, The Avengers, comes out in 2012 and will link all the Marvel studios films together-no X-men, Spider-Man, or Fantastic Four though because the rights are a bit messed up)-Eric Bana was the first, Edward Norton the second, and now Ruffalo the third. While I’m generally in support of recasting when needed-heck, Doctor Who does it all the time-this is a bit ridicolous at times :). Same thing has happened with the punisher, there’s been three films and three Punishers, and now I hear there’s going to be a fourth film with-you guessed it-a fourth punisher actor.
But enough about the actors playing Banner, what about the comics? Hulk has lately become a product of overdoing things in comics. We’ve seen it somewhat with DC’s Green Lantern as well, which now has Red, Blue, yellow, black and white lanterns. Bruce used to be the only Hulk-sure, there were other gamma spawned creatures but they were different (The Leader, for instance, had brains instead of Brawn, and the Abomination was ugly and deformed compared to Hulk). Starting in the 80s we had the female Hulk, She-Hulk (Bruce’s cousin who got Hulk powers from a blood transfusion, but she actually has all her intellect intact) but honestly that’s not that different from many other Superheroes who have female counterparts (Even the most ‘manly’ hero, Wolverine, has two female versions-Lady Deathstryke who you might remember from X-men II and X-23, a recent addition to the Marvel comics).
But now, as has been revealed in the recent Hulk crossovers, Fall of the Hulks, and World War Hulks, there are now a ton of Hulks. And to add to that, they’re pretty much all related in some fashion to Bruce. I kid you not. (warning: Spoilers ahead for those who haven’t been reading the last few months of Hulk comics) There’s the Red Hulks-Hulk’s father-in-law(Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross) and wife (Betty Ross Banner) son from another marriage (Skaar) daughter from an alternate future (Lyra)….even his best buddy, Rick Jones (Who was in part responsible for the Hulk’s creation) is now a super-powered, ‘good’ version of the Abomination (Rick was also once a Hulk for a brief time in the 80s).
Plus the comic will now be renamed “Incredible Hulks”.
So should the franchise dial it back a bit, perhaps returning the character back to basics for the upcoming 50th anniversary in 2012?