Sams, Jason Butco: "The Sartrean Struggle of Banner/Hulk in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe." In: The Phoenix Papers 4.1 (2018), S. 59–71, <https://fansconference. ... ggle-of-Banner-Hulk.pdf>.
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BibTeX citation key: Sams2018
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Keywords: "Hulk", Adaptation, Film adaptation, Sartre. Jean-Paul, Superhero, USA
Collection: The Phoenix Papers
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Ang Lee’s 2003 Hulk is gauged as the least favorable showing of Bruce Banner and the Incredible Hulk in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (MCU). Despite its criticisms, the film remains in the cinematic canon. The opportunity to retcon the content of Ang Lee’s Hulk has been possible in any of the subsequent appearances of Banner/Hulk in MCU. However, this has never come to pass, which indicates that Hulk makes a significant contribution to the character.
Unlike the traditional comic book representation of Banner/Hulk, Ang Lee’s offering does not establish the emergence of the Hulk as the result of the gamma radiation accident. Instead, an attentive analysis shows that the Hulk has been, from Banner’s birth, a part of the unity of the character. The gamma accident in the film is just a catalyst that tears away any sort of divide between the two facets of Banner/Hulk. This duality can be understood through the existential philosophy of JeanPaul Sartre. Sartre develops two concepts within Being and Nothingness that ultimately drive the ontology of Banner and Hulk, bad faith and authenticity. Banner is the epitome of bad faith, or the denial of one’s freedom in the face of the conditions of the world. Eric Bana’s banal performance becomes justifiable in this context. Hulk, on the other hand, represents the authentic within the character. These two concepts establish the philosophical ontology through which Banner/Hulk can be best understood; driving the development of Banner/Hulk through his subsequent appearances in the MCU. The distinction between Banner and Hulk, along these existential lines, begins to decay as the interpolations of these ontologies begin to affect one another in their continuing presence within the ever expanding MCU. One of the criticisms that was directed towards Sartre’s philosophical offering was that he underestimated the strength of the world to limit the freedom of the individual, particularly in the face of oppressive political and economic regimes. As the MCU expands, and increasingly powerful entities emerge as antagonists, it is the author’s intent to use Banner/Hulk as a response to such a criticism. The power and strength of the Hulk may, at first, seem the key to such an argument. However, the events of Thor: Ragnarok represent the apex of the interpolation between Banner/Hulk, which can be predicted through the existential understanding established. A possible solution to Sartre’s criticism and the continuing development of Banner/Hulk lies not with the Hulk, but in the rise of Banner.
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