I forget when I first became aware of the giant green goliath that could smash cities to pulp with his fists when he became enraged. There’s no set date, unlike my first baseball game. I’m sure that it was before the TV series that starred Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno aired, because I remember lamenting at the time that the TV show Hulk was nothing like the comic book one. Then again, the state of special effects was quite different at that time, with Ferrigno literally having to have green paint applied to his body. Now CGI can render a 9-foot-tall Hulk with ease.
The story of Dr. Bruce Banner (I wanted to change my name to that legally at one point), and his monstrous alter ego was a Jekyll and Hyde for the comic book crowd. I was a skinny kid at the time and the idea of the Hulk’s strength and power deriving from his rage was an enticing one. I’m sure I was not the only awkward child drawn in by this premise and I certainly won’t be the last.
There were two storylines in play for much of the time I read the comics regularly: Banner wanted to fully rid himself of his ability to become the Hulk and the Hulk wanted to merely find solitude where he could be left alone. That’s all noble and everything, but a comic with a happy Hulk sitting somewhere fishing would just be boring as all get out within the first three pages.
I also saw two types of Hulks – the mindless, angry green one and a grey one that had intelligence and who acted like a “Fix-It” guy. That was where I first discovered Todd McFarlane’s artwork. It was fascinating seeing how the Hulk matched up against people that were smarter and dumber than he was. My all-time favorite cover was from the original “Secret Wars”, where he’s holding up a mountain. The cover’s text basically said, “The only thing between this billion-ton mountain and the ground is the Hulk… AND HE’S NOT HAPPY.”
Up until the most recent Marvel Studios version with Mark Ruffalo, I haven’t liked how my favorite green-skinned goliath had been portrayed on the big screen. The Ang Lee version just was all wrong and although the Ed Norton version was a bit better, it felt like they couldn’t translate the comic Hulk to the movies. But this one is just perfect and I do hope that Ruffalo keeps playing him.
Even though I like the Thor movies, I’m more excited about seeing the Planet Hulk storyline in some form or another in the future. It’s going to be interesting how they tie in the Infinity Wars… because a very angry Worldbreaker Hulk would make for a formidable opponent against even an Infinity Gauntlet wielding Thanos. Not saying that the Hulk would WIN, but it would be fun to watch.
Those are just a few brain droppings on this big galoot. I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to say once “Thor:Ragnorak” hits the theaters.