First They Came for Wolverine, I Did Not Speak Out -
Because I Was Not a Wolverine Fan.
Then They Came for Thor, And I Did Not Speak Out -
Because I was not a Thor fan.
Then They Came for my Hero, And There Was No One Left, Not Even The Incredible Hulk...
In case you are being caught unawares, Marvel is at it again. In an attempt to shake up the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they are once again radically changing a beloved character, effectively erasing a hero's mythology for reasons that still remain unclear to me. Although aware of the up-coming change to the Hulk for some time now, I felt I could no longer sit back and remain silent. After all, the Hulk is my favorite character and has been my entire life. My passion for the Hulk compels me I must speak out regarding this travesty.
Okay, before I get too deep into my rant, allow me to enlighten you on my beloved hero's new title and story.
New Hulk? New Title?
That's right, no longer will the book be titled The Incredible Hulk, or even simply HULK, as it has been for some time. In fact, that 'classic' character no longer exists! The Hulk I knew and loved is gone. The book will now be titled The Totally Awesome Hulk.
Banner - OUT!
If that odd bit of info isn't enough to make you shudder, this an even bigger change in store. Hold on to your purple pants - Banner is no longer the Hulk! Yes, the mantle of Earth's Mightiest Mortal is being transferred to someone else completely. You heard me correctly. Someone else will now be the Hulk. The Hulk's new alter-ego is the boy genius Amadeus Cho
In an article from Entertainment Weekly, Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso said:
"Amadeus came to mind for a lot of different reasons. One of them is that physically, he’s like Banner: he’s the 98-pound weakling who’s had everything but the physical aspect to make him seem super cool...and secondarily is that he’s so different from Banner. He shares the monstrous intellect but he’s so different — he’s a teenage kid, who’s hasn’t lived much yet. When Banner inherited the burden of being the Hulk, he was an adult. And I think that it showed in the way that he responded to it. Amadeus is a plucky kid. He’s got a chip on his shoulder, he’s the fifth or sixth smartest guy in the world according to the official rankings, and I think he’s just going to carry himself very differently with that power."
Okay, now that you understand what Marvel is doing, please allow me to return to my rant...
Now, as a very long-time fan of the Hulk, after reading the news, I almost erupted with rage. It seems Banner got caught up in the All-New All-Different wave rolling through the Marvel Universe (post Secret Wars). My favorite tortured soul, probably the persona I identify with the most, Doctor Bruce Banner, is gone. The man who struggled with the burden of forever being haunted by a side of him he cannot contain is now history.
So many people have called The Incredible Hulk an anachronism. To some, he is simply a creation of Stan Lee's that played on the 1960's fears of nuclear radiation and the danger of nuclear war. Perhaps it was for that reason Editor-in-Chief Alonso and others decided to go forward with such a radical change? That simplistic description of the Hulk may have been true at his inception back in 1962. But, as the character evolved, The Hulk's story evolved into so much more.
Hulk as Metaphor
The Hulk became a metaphor for the duality of man's nature, his need to balance his intellect with his emotions. A metaphor for science gone awry, he represents man's arrogant need to tread in areas best left alone. For his folly Banner literally becomes tormented by his own creation. The torment of Banner, a man searching for some way to stop the monster raging within. The rage fuelled Hulk, always at odds with his weakling alter-ego. Two personas locked in an unending quantum entanglement of opposing forces. In their history they were sometimes apart, other times they were merged into one, but neither would ever be truly separate. To marginalize Banner's story in such a way - to summarily dismiss his complex history - is unfair to the character and a slap in the face to all Hulk fans.
My love for the Hulk most notably stems from the Peter David run from the 1980s. In those great stories David broke new ground with The Incredible Hulk, exploring aspects of Banner's personality. Why would radiation that would kill any normal man transform this man into a monster? David explored the man within the monster. expanding on Banner's childhood for the answer. Once again the Hulk's mythology grew.
During that time fans were also introduced to Mr. Fixit, A.K.A the Grey Hulk. Weaker, but more intelligent than his green counterpart, the title explored yet another side of Banner's personality. The Grey Hulk was far different from the Hulk fans were used to. However, the exploration of this new hulk brought new energy and more fans to the title. Some might say this, too, was a radical change to the character. I might agree, but for one salient point. Even during the Grey Hulk's run, Bruce Banner, the brooding scientist saddled with a side of himself he cannot always control, was still at the core.
And now, it seems, all that mythology and all those metaphors are gone
I could go on detailing the Hulk's other adventures and list his other forms. Wikipedia can do all that. I could retell tales of the Hulk's exile in Greg Pak's amazing series Planet Hulk and his rage-fuelled return to Earth detailed in the pages of World War Hulk. But that was not my reason for writing this article. I am not here to eulogize the end of my favorite Marvel Hero. I'm here to openly wonder why he has to change at all?
Why so Radical a Change?
Why erase the mythology of one of comic book's greatest creations? To bring in a more youthful audience? So Greg Pak and Frank Cho felt their only course of action was to transplant the Hulk into a younger person?
Let's explore this for a moment...
The Hulk is now totally awesome and is no longer Bruce Banner, but a genius teen named Amadeus Cho. Doesn't Marvel already have an angst-filled super-smart teen with great powers and great responsibility? I really enjoyed this title the first time i read it, when it was called The Amazing Spider-Man.
What other reasons could there be to completely recreate the Hulk's story? Could there be a tie-in with the MCU? Is it possible Marvel is eager to youth-up the MCU Hulk by making him younger and therefore more appealing to future youthful film audiences? Is this Disney whispering in the background - "we want more smash, less Banner" to appeal to the kiddies out there?
Whatever the true reason, to me it feels like a lot of heads nodded, hands got shook and backs were patted. All the cooks had a hand in the stew and what resulted was a mess. For me, in an effort to be more youthful, Marvel has forever damaged the history of one of their greatest heroes.
Now, I know Amadeus Cho did not spring out of nowhere. I realize the character has his fingerprints all over the Hulk's latter mythology. I have nothing against Cho as a character in the Marvel Universe. But to effectively lop off the other side of the coin that is Bruce Banner seems almost sacrilegious to die hard fans.
I know what some of are going to say...you are going to remind me to wait and see. You are going to say that Greg Pak, one of the minds behind the Totally Awesome Hulk also wrote Planet Hulk, the series I praised only a few paragraphs ago. Yes, I know. Yes, I should give the new title a chance. I should NOT lament how Marvel has metaphorically spat in the face of millions of HULK fans by cutting out the man that made the monster.
Yes, I should wait and see. As a fan, I guess I have no choice. However, for me, you cannot have The Incredible Hulk without Bruce Banner. The Incredible Hulk ... my Hulk...is dead.