Last night I watched the movie The Incredible Hulk. I really enjoyed the cameos – Bill Bixby, Lou Ferrigno, Stan Lee, and a snippet of music from the classic TV series. But the movie also explores some religious terrain in interesting ways.
One is in the reference to the strength that the gamma poisoning gives Bruce Banner and the serum gives Emil Blonsky as “like a god.” The very reference to what Blonsky turns into – “Abomination” – itself has Biblical overtones. But more importantly, the very idea of a person becoming a “monster” when angry is blatantly symbolic of a universal human experience – that there are aspects of ourselves which are prone to emerge when we feel strong emotion, and which can seem to be a different person than our rational selves, acting in ways that we may later regret and even find incomprehensible.
The message of The Incredible Hulk is and has always been that, even if we cannot always prevent our emotions from overriding our reason, the values and personality we cultivate over the course of our lives still are reflected even in our moments of overwhelming rage.
The movie also provides an opportunity to discuss what if anything distinguishes a “monster” from a “god.”
Particularly at the beginning and end of the movie, a lot of attention is given to Buddhist religious practices, as Bruce Banner tries using meditation to control his heart rate and thus whether or not he becomes the Hulk.
The best religious practices have always reflected a body of traditional wisdom about our inner selves and ways to keep control of our selves so that in moments of crisis we do not throw those things we believe and value to the wind.
The character of Lou Samson also provides a Biblical reference of interest.
One last question. Soon after the start of the movie, we see Bruce Banner in his apartment in Argentina, and he looks at a leather-bound book. I didn’t catch what the volume was, and don’t think it was a Bible, but am curious to know. Screenshots appreciated!