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#1
Old 05-17-2012, 12:40 PM
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Avengers movie: questions about the Hulk (**spoilers**)

I am a casual fan but not well-versed in the Avengers history. Two things in the movie confused me, and I'm wondering if knowing more about the Hulk would explain them, if I simply missed the explanation in the movie, or if it was less-than-perfect writing.

- The first time in the movie when Bruce loses control and turns into the Hulk, he smashes anything and doesn't make much effort to distinguish between friends and enemies. In the climatic scene, he has it figured out and (for the most part) isn't a risk to the other Avengers. Why?

- Right before he turns into the Hulk the second time, he reveals his secret for maintaining control - "I'm always angry'. This didn't make sense to me. How does that keep him from turning into the Hulk? Why didn't it work earlier?
#2
Old 05-17-2012, 12:45 PM
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1) They're all being mind-controlled by Loki, and he's the most vulnerable of them all (and Loki's specific target).

2) It's not that being angry all the time keeps him from turning into the Hulk, it's that he doesn't have to get angry to do it: he's ALWAYS angry, and that really doesn't have anything to do with it. He's like a werewolf in a modern horror story who can turn into a wolf any time he wants to, and has full control (after a fashion) in wolf form, rather than just turning into a ravening beast, and only during a full moon.
#3
Old 05-17-2012, 01:45 PM
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Here's my take on it:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maus Magill View Post
Think of the Hulk as a four yer old. When a four year old is having tantrum, the worst thing you can do is to tell them to clam down Right Now. That just makes the tantrum worse.

When he first turns into the Hulk on the Helicarrier, notice how it takes a long time to change. I think it was because he was trying to force himself to calm down. That makes The Other Guy want to come out more. And then you have Black Widow telling him that he calm down. He Knows That. The Other Guy is getting pissed at her, too. He finally yells at her to get away, and he loses control. The Hulk comes out, and where's that puny human who wouldn't shut up?

At the end, Banner doesn't control the Hulk so much as aim him. He wills the change, which comes very quickly and smoothly.

My $0.02.
#4
Old 05-17-2012, 01:46 PM
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1) In the first instance, Banner just fell and injured himself while having just learned that he was being manipulated by SHIELD. He hulks out because (in addition to Loki's pushing) he's lost his control, and what he's most angry at right then being brought into this dangerous, chaotic, painful situation -- and right there is the woman who brought him there. (Plus, doesn't Natasha start shooting at him before he does anything directly to her?) In the second instance, Banner lets him out on purpose to face a particular threat. The Hulk isn't retarded, he's just pissed off all the time. So he's capable of understanding who the good guys and the bad guys are, when he wants to.

2) Banner hasn't learned to control his "incidents" by suppressing his anger; he's done it by learning to be comfortable with his anger. And because of that, he can get big whenever he needs to. (We saw something like this going on in the final scene of the Edward Norton movie.) But I admit, I didn't really get it at the time. I had to think about it.

--Cliffy
#5
Old 05-17-2012, 01:59 PM
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The Hulk likes smashing things. In fact, it's about all he's good for. When he showed up on the Helicarrier, pretty much everything within smashing range is something of the good guys', so that's what he smashes. In Manhattan, though, there were plenty of acceptable smashing targets available, so he can smash all he likes without his friends even getting upset with him.
#6
Old 05-17-2012, 02:19 PM
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Quote:
Right before he turns into the Hulk the second time, he reveals his secret for maintaining control - "I'm always angry'. This didn't make sense to me. How does that keep him from turning into the Hulk?
My take on it: he'd figured out that a spike in anger is what sets it off. So back when, he'd try to stay as calm as humanly possible -- and when something eventually pissed him off, then, man, watch out. He now tries to keep his baseline higher -- sarcastic, confrontational, insulting, a guy who enjoys using his "angry" voice -- such that getting him a little more pissed-off no longer makes much of a difference.
#7
Old 05-17-2012, 02:23 PM
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That also allows him to transform very quickly when he wants to. When Banner hulked out on the helicarrier, he fought it, so the process took time. On the streets, he just let loose his constant anger and transformed in seconds.
#8
Old 05-17-2012, 02:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
The Hulk likes smashing things. In fact, it's about all he's good for. When he showed up on the Helicarrier, pretty much everything within smashing range is something of the good guys', so that's what he smashes. In Manhattan, though, there were plenty of acceptable smashing targets available, so he can smash all he likes without his friends even getting upset with him.
No, that doesn't jibe with him taking orders from Cap and catching Iron Man.
#9
Old 05-17-2012, 02:52 PM
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I think the line "I'm always angry" was saying that it takes all of his control to NOT be the Hulk all the time and to be the Hulk he just has to "let go."

As far as why he went overly crazy the first time, I think, as others also said, it was a combination of him changing unexpectedly and Loki's influence.
#10
Old 05-17-2012, 02:59 PM
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Well, Cap's order was for him to "Smash." If Cap had said "help those civilians" there might have been a different response.
#11
Old 05-17-2012, 03:14 PM
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Yeah, it's to Cap's credit as a tactical commander that he knew which orders to give that would be efficiently and effectively obeyed. He knew that ordering Hulk to help civilians wouldn't work well, and so didn't give that order. But by ordering him to do something very close to what he'd prefer to be doing anyway, he keeps him under some semblance of control.
#12
Old 05-17-2012, 03:48 PM
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I think the key to the "always angry" line is that Banner is always angry enough to turn into the Hulk. When he's pushed to the point where he changes involuntarily and starts smashing stuff indiscriminately, that's actually exactly what Banner would do in those situations even if he weren't the Hulk - it's just that, as a giant green rage monster (instead of a reedy scientist) he can do a hell of a lot more damage. The Hulk loses control when Banner loses control. If Banner doesn't lose control, then the Hulk doesn't lose control, either.
#13
Old 05-17-2012, 05:01 PM
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I've posted this analysis elsewhere, but it answers your question nicely, I think:

The read I took away from "The Avengers" - which is supported from what I've read in interviews - is that, from the start of the movie, Banner has the aptitude to control the Hulk. This stemmed from his realization sometime before the film begins that acknowledging his constant inner anger is necessary to do so (hence "The secret is, I'm always angry").

So at the beginning of "The Avengers," we have a Bruce Banner who can (somewhat) control whether the Other Guy appears or not via his understanding of his own constant anger. He could Hulk out voluntarily at any moment. But what's important is that that's not something he'd ever choose to do at this point. Banner is still striving purely to repress the Hulk - hence Black Widow's line about how it's been more than year between "incidents." Banner accepts this wording because, to him, each Hulk-out is still just that - an unfortunate incident, a loss of control. For all his newfound ability to keep that part of himself under wraps, he still ultimately views the Hulk as a frightening expression of what he hates about himself - hence calling it the "Other Guy."

The conversation Banner has with Tony Stark aboard the Helicarrier is his first step towards realizing true control over the Hulk. Even then, we see how dedicated Banner is to repressing that part of himself, as demonstrated by his deadpan response to being zapped by Stark. Stark urges Banner to embrace the Hulk as a gift as much as a curse, implying that doing so will also help clear Banner's head in a more general sense. Banner seems unconvinced, but doesn't reject the notion outright.

Unfortunately, a few hours later, Banner is thrown into one of the most chaotic and terrifying moments of his life, as he learns that SHIELD has been lying to him and the giant flying airship he's on comes under violent attack. All of this while being psychologically warped by Loki's staff, which he picks up and seems prepared to use without even realizing it.

As the lab explodes underneath him, all of Banner's careful repression of the Other Guy disintegrates in that moment of betrayal, mental torment, and physical pain, and the Hulk emerges. Uncontrolled. Untethered. And most importantly, against Banner's will. The circumstances are beyond anything Banner had prepared himself for, and his method of controlling the monster up to this point utterly fails. The last bit of Banner we see in this scene is the horror and apology in his eyes directed at Black Widow as he is subsumed by the Other Guy.

Everyone knows the Hulk best as the id of Bruce Banner, and the following scene is the pure expression of that mode. The Other Guy is unrestrained fury, but it's not mindless - it just acts on instinct. And its instinct right now is this: "Destroy everything that is hurting me/ Banner." Nothing in this moment embodies that more than Natasha Romanov, the representative of SHIELD that recruited him into this ridiculous scheme in the first place. Hence the Hulk's single-minded pursuit of Black Widow through the corridors of the Hellicarrier... until other things start showing up that direct pain against him in an even more visceral manner. First Thor and his bloody hammer, then the fighter jet and its pilot ("TARGET ANGRY! TARGET VERY, VERY ANGRY!").

Of course, here's where the uncoordinated instinct of the id kind of fails as military strategy - if you're a landbound being, even a monster capable of jumping hundreds of feet in the air, it's not the best plan to leap onto an airplane and then proceed to demolish it. Hulk plummets out of the sky. But in our (and what will be Banner's) first hint that even the Hulk maintains some of Banner's mind, the Hulk avoids populated areas in his descent and crashes into an unoccupied warehouse.

Cut to several hours later. Bruce Banner wakes up, confused and instantly horrified. He assumes that he's had another catastrophic "incident" (which is pretty much exactly what happened). But for the first time, he's approached by someone who saw what he was and doesn't fear him it. It helps that it's Harry Dean Stanton. HDS accepts Banner with some dry humor, and informs him that even as the Hulk, he seemed to be making some effort to avoid killing innocents.

This is the most important moment of the film for the character of Bruce Banner - not, as most people seem to assume, the "I'm always angry" line (that's a defining moment for the rest of the Avengers in understanding and accepting Banner, not for Banner himself). It is here that Banner truly comes to understand what "controlling the Hulk" means - not just burying the Other Guy ever deeper, but accepting his anger as part of himself and learning to direct it in a proactive and useful way. He must choose to use his anger as a tool.

When Banner finally arrives at the battle, he exudes a sense of peace we haven't seen in him before. He's still got that wry, quiet humor, but it's missing the nervousness from earlier in the film. It reflects the epiphany that he reached during his conversation with HDS, and reaches its culmination seconds later as he finally Hulks out on purpose for the first time in his life. His acceptance of his anger finally gives him the means to control that anger - and its expression in the Hulk.

That's why the Hulk takes orders in the final battle. That's why the Hulk only goes after the bad guys (Thor suckerpunch aside). And that's why the Hulk is able to deliver the best one-liner in the whole damn movie after pulverizing Loki.

tl;dr version: Bruce Banner could have voluntarily Hulked out at any time in the movie, because he's always angry and he knows it. But until the last 30 minutes of the film, it's a decision he would NEVER MAKE, because he viewed the Hulk as something bad to be repressed. Which means, when it happens against his will on the Helicarrier, he's incapable of stopping the Hulk from emerging, nor from trying to turn Black Widow into a fine paste.

Last edited by Tanbarkie; 05-17-2012 at 05:04 PM.
#14
Old 05-17-2012, 05:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Yeah, it's to Cap's credit as a tactical commander that he knew which orders to give that would be efficiently and effectively obeyed. He knew that ordering Hulk to help civilians wouldn't work well, and so didn't give that order. But by ordering him to do something very close to what he'd prefer to be doing anyway, he keeps him under some semblance of control.
This was one of my favorite scenes. Up until this point, I wasn't really clear on what Captain America offered the team. But, if it's really going to be a team, not just a group of people more or less on the same side, then they need a leader. All the others are very much soloists, but he has real experience coordinating military action.
#15
Old 05-18-2012, 12:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tanbarkie View Post
Which means, when it happens against his will on the Helicarrier, he's incapable of stopping the Hulk from emerging, nor from trying to turn Black Widow into a fine paste.
I'd be happy to grind her a bit, myself.
#16
Old 05-18-2012, 12:06 PM
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Think about the times you or someone you know is angry.
Let's say you're angry at your boss. You control the rage but you're still pissed. That's Banner all of the time.
Let's say your angry at your significant other that just used your life savings to give their previously unknown lover a new car and the lover gave you (through the SO) the clap. You are blindingly out of control, smaching dishes and getting violent and you cannot control your rage at all. That was the first appearance of the Hulk.
Let's say you are dealing with someone and as they are pissing you off. You could control your anger but you make the calculated choice to let it go (but still somewhat controlled) and yell at them to STFU and just listen for a minute. That was the second Hulk appearance and interestingly enough Banner did it as Black Widow was trying to recruit him and he didn't turn into the Hulk.

Last edited by Saint Cad; 05-18-2012 at 12:08 PM.
#17
Old 05-18-2012, 12:17 PM
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Tanbarkie's analysis is excellent and I don't really have much to add since it's more or less the idea that I came here to say. Instead, I think relating the concept to personal experience makes the character a lot more real. It's very much a matter of instinct. A young child in a temper-tantrum or throwing an untrained person into a life-or-death situation or maybe an athletic competition. Their instincts are undeveloped and unfocused, and you end up with the tantruming kid breaking stuff or possibly even hurting himself, or the untrained person strongly reacting in a fight-or-flight way to either attack whatever put them in that situation or immediately escape. However, just like a trained soldier, a trained martial artist, or a trained athlete, when they've found ways to retrain many of those instincts and focus them and so entering into that state in a controlled manner can provide a great degree of control.

That's exactly the difference in the two transformations that Banner experienced. We learned at the end of the Incredible Hulk movie that he discovered he had some control over it and presumably had used that control to keep it suppressed. Unfortunately, he never actually seemed to realize that he could train himself to control it when he did enter the state, only to avoid entering it. He simply learned to control it in the same way that we learn to control our tempers from youth. So he could already enter the state at will, but may still enter if excessively provoked (and he was being manipulated specifically toward that).

And that's why, as said, the scene after crashing was pivotal. He realized that the Hulk wasn't just a mindless monster, but was still him at some level and wasn't going to hurt innocents, he'd only transformed to protect himself. And with that realization, engaging that fight-or-flight response aimed toward the Chitauri army and with the Avengers as his friends and not fighting the transformation he had considerably more conscious control. Hell, even the sucker punch on Thor makes sense in that context because, though he knew he was an ally, it's not unlike getting beat by a teammate in practice and then getting some "revenge" later.
#18
Old 05-18-2012, 12:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tanbarkie View Post
I've posted this analysis elsewhere, but it answers your question nicely, I think:

The read I took away from "The Avengers" - which is supported from what I've read in interviews - is that, from the start of the movie, Banner has the aptitude to control the Hulk. This stemmed from his realization sometime before the film begins that acknowledging his constant inner anger is necessary to do so (hence "The secret is, I'm always angry").

So at the beginning of "The Avengers," we have a Bruce Banner who can (somewhat) control whether the Other Guy appears or not via his understanding of his own constant anger. He could Hulk out voluntarily at any moment. But what's important is that that's not something he'd ever choose to do at this point. Banner is still striving purely to repress the Hulk - hence Black Widow's line about how it's been more than year between "incidents." Banner accepts this wording because, to him, each Hulk-out is still just that - an unfortunate incident, a loss of control. For all his newfound ability to keep that part of himself under wraps, he still ultimately views the Hulk as a frightening expression of what he hates about himself - hence calling it the "Other Guy."

The conversation Banner has with Tony Stark aboard the Helicarrier is his first step towards realizing true control over the Hulk. Even then, we see how dedicated Banner is to repressing that part of himself, as demonstrated by his deadpan response to being zapped by Stark. Stark urges Banner to embrace the Hulk as a gift as much as a curse, implying that doing so will also help clear Banner's head in a more general sense. Banner seems unconvinced, but doesn't reject the notion outright.

Unfortunately, a few hours later, Banner is thrown into one of the most chaotic and terrifying moments of his life, as he learns that SHIELD has been lying to him and the giant flying airship he's on comes under violent attack. All of this while being psychologically warped by Loki's staff, which he picks up and seems prepared to use without even realizing it.

As the lab explodes underneath him, all of Banner's careful repression of the Other Guy disintegrates in that moment of betrayal, mental torment, and physical pain, and the Hulk emerges. Uncontrolled. Untethered. And most importantly, against Banner's will. The circumstances are beyond anything Banner had prepared himself for, and his method of controlling the monster up to this point utterly fails. The last bit of Banner we see in this scene is the horror and apology in his eyes directed at Black Widow as he is subsumed by the Other Guy.

Everyone knows the Hulk best as the id of Bruce Banner, and the following scene is the pure expression of that mode. The Other Guy is unrestrained fury, but it's not mindless - it just acts on instinct. And its instinct right now is this: "Destroy everything that is hurting me/ Banner." Nothing in this moment embodies that more than Natasha Romanov, the representative of SHIELD that recruited him into this ridiculous scheme in the first place. Hence the Hulk's single-minded pursuit of Black Widow through the corridors of the Hellicarrier... until other things start showing up that direct pain against him in an even more visceral manner. First Thor and his bloody hammer, then the fighter jet and its pilot ("TARGET ANGRY! TARGET VERY, VERY ANGRY!").

Of course, here's where the uncoordinated instinct of the id kind of fails as military strategy - if you're a landbound being, even a monster capable of jumping hundreds of feet in the air, it's not the best plan to leap onto an airplane and then proceed to demolish it. Hulk plummets out of the sky. But in our (and what will be Banner's) first hint that even the Hulk maintains some of Banner's mind, the Hulk avoids populated areas in his descent and crashes into an unoccupied warehouse.

Cut to several hours later. Bruce Banner wakes up, confused and instantly horrified. He assumes that he's had another catastrophic "incident" (which is pretty much exactly what happened). But for the first time, he's approached by someone who saw what he was and doesn't fear him it. It helps that it's Harry Dean Stanton. HDS accepts Banner with some dry humor, and informs him that even as the Hulk, he seemed to be making some effort to avoid killing innocents.

This is the most important moment of the film for the character of Bruce Banner - not, as most people seem to assume, the "I'm always angry" line (that's a defining moment for the rest of the Avengers in understanding and accepting Banner, not for Banner himself). It is here that Banner truly comes to understand what "controlling the Hulk" means - not just burying the Other Guy ever deeper, but accepting his anger as part of himself and learning to direct it in a proactive and useful way. He must choose to use his anger as a tool.

When Banner finally arrives at the battle, he exudes a sense of peace we haven't seen in him before. He's still got that wry, quiet humor, but it's missing the nervousness from earlier in the film. It reflects the epiphany that he reached during his conversation with HDS, and reaches its culmination seconds later as he finally Hulks out on purpose for the first time in his life. His acceptance of his anger finally gives him the means to control that anger - and its expression in the Hulk.

That's why the Hulk takes orders in the final battle. That's why the Hulk only goes after the bad guys (Thor suckerpunch aside). And that's why the Hulk is able to deliver the best one-liner in the whole damn movie after pulverizing Loki.

tl;dr version: Bruce Banner could have voluntarily Hulked out at any time in the movie, because he's always angry and he knows it. But until the last 30 minutes of the film, it's a decision he would NEVER MAKE, because he viewed the Hulk as something bad to be repressed. Which means, when it happens against his will on the Helicarrier, he's incapable of stopping the Hulk from emerging, nor from trying to turn Black Widow into a fine paste.
[Stands up and starts a slow-clap]
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