Hug the monster: own your anger and use it

Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) won’t ever be mistaken for high art. But the film at least has some character development wedged between the fighting and explosions. My favourite moment in the film comes towards the end, as our heroes battle an army of flying fiends in New York City (where else?). Dr Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), aka the Hulk, faces down a flying robotic lizard creature the size of a A380, which Tony Stark (Robert Downey Junior), aka Iron Man, has kindly steered in his direction. As Banner, still in human form, trudges down the street to confront it, Captain America (Chris Evans) suggests: ‘Doctor Banner, now might be a really good time for you to get angry’. ‘That’s my secret, Cap – I’m always angry’, Banner replies. He shapeshifts into the Hulk and suckerpunches the flying lizard on the snout.

This scene marks the completion of Bruce Banner’s character arc in The Avengers. Previously in the film, Banner had divorced himself from both his Hulk alter-ego and the anger that causes him to change into the Hulk. He’d refer to Hulk as ‘the other guy’, meaning ‘not me’, and remained a picture of calm when he wasn’t turning green and decimating everything in his path. In this context, Banner admitting to an abiding sense of anger represents a reconciliation, of sorts. The anger that creates the Hulk comes from Banner himself. Banner is the monster. L’Hulk, c’est moi.

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