Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Wholeness of the Hulk (Avengers)

"Is the Hulk better off without Bruce Banner?"

In The New Hulk Series Bruce Banner and the Hulk are separated. In a "Psych Ward" article on Marvel's website, an observance of the Hulk's mentality is documented. In this new story line, it seems as if the Hulk is left alone to learn and grow as a character while Banner either kills himself or becomes re-submerged within the Hulk in an attempt to regain his lost power.

This separation takes an extreme toll on both parties. It seems almost as if they are incomplete without each other even though originally a separation may have been what was wished for.

Perhaps Banner felt that the only way he could ever regain his place in life would be for him to become rejoined with the Hulk. And the Hulk, though bearing limited intelligence, quite possibly could have felt the same way.

This reminds me of Blaise Pascal's God-shaped vacuum:

“All men seek happiness.
This is without exception….
no one without faith has reached the point to which all continually look….
[This] should certainly convince us of our inability to reach the good by our own efforts….
What is it then that this desire and this inability proclaim to us,
but that there was once in man
a true happiness
of which there now remain to him
only the mark and empty trace,
which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings…
But these are all inadequate,
because the infinite abyss
can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object,
that is to say, only by God Himself.”[i]

Banner reached for what he felt he wanted. He got rid of his biggest problem and the monster that ruled his life. He got rid of the Hulk. After it was over, he had the longing for the Hulk to remain.

In this same way, man had reached for what he thought he wanted: "to be like God" and have his eyes opened to know good and evil (Gen. 3:5). In the end, this sin not only brought a curse upon the whole human race, it caused a separation between God and man. "There was once in man a true happiness [in faith and before the fall]... now remain to him [the unbeliever] only the mark and empty trace." Man tries in vain "to fill from all his surroundings... the infinite abyss" that has created with his own down. The same abyss that can "only be filled by an infinite and immutable object... God."

In The Avengers, coming out this Friday, the Hulk is predicted to play a drastic role. One of my favorite set of lines from the trailer is when Loki says that he has an army and Stark counters by saying that the Avengers have a Hulk:

The Hulk is shown as an unstoppable machine, able to demolish anything who gets in his way. His gamma radiation, triggered by emotion, has become his greatest weapon and asset to the Avengers. Even though it may seem like a curse, it is only with this might that he can help the team succeed in what they need to do. It is who Bruce needs to be in order to do what needs to be done. In many ways, the Hulk seems like he will be the only think stopping Loki's forces in succeeding.

This hero can only be who he needs to be by being retaining his wholeness: both the Hulk and Bruce Banner. Without the Hulk, he would be too weak. Without Bruce, he would lose all control (He would not be able to help the Avengers at all without some sort of human-like restraint, only fear and devastation would follow the monster's wake. In fact, isn't it Bruce Banner who is the one who chooses to join the team after all?).

In this same way, as Christians we can be whole. We are human, but at the same time God empowers us; through the Holy Spirit He makes us complete.

He shines through us. He gives us strength even when we are weak. "My [human] flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (Ps. 73:26). It is only with Him that we are able to do all things (Phil. 4:13), filled with the power of God: His Gospel (Rm. 1:16). So...

HULK OUT!!!!!!

More Hulk:

The Helpful Hulk (Psych)

[i] Blaise Pascal, Pascal’s Pensées, (New York, NY: E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1958), 97.

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