The Marvel Movie Machine has been knocking it out of the park, and The Avengers 2 already looks like it's going to continue the going trend. And after the blow-out success of The Avengers, we've seen Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America continue to have their own successful, gripping, stand-alone adventures. Which is great. BUT I WANT MORE HULK YOU GUYS.
Ms. Charlie Jane Anders put a bee in my bonnet with her article the other day, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.
Yes, yes, it's tantamount to a felony that the Black Widow hasn't gotten her own feature film yet, but I'm not talking about her today. Let's focus on what we've learned from past Hulk pictures, comics, and that wonderful-if-really-dated TV series.
As of The Avengers, Dr. Banner has demonstrated he can turn into the Hulk at a moment's notice, and just as importantly, keep a lid on it (barring a surprise explosion and head games courtesy of Loki). Even then, Wise Old Harry Dean Stanton pointed out that the Hulk seemed to go out of its way not to hurt anybody. This has almost always been the case, but good on Ol' Jade Jaws anyway.
This is a problem, because the Hulk has gone from being this uncontrollable force of nature, to a scary, green big brother that Banner can call on when he's needed, who just goes away when the job is done.
If I'm picking up rightly on clues from the Rise of Ultron trailer, it looks like the scepter (or something similar) will be used to get in Banner's head and trigger one mother of a temper tantrum. That is excellent news, because as we've seen with Dr. Selvig, having that kind of influence used even temporarily can have a lasting impact.
Banner needs to lose that iron grip on the Hulk's leash, if he's going to generate compelling drama.
If The Incredible Hulk had any meaningful impact on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it was this: science can sort-of recreate the conditions which created the Hulk. Not well, but enough to give the Hulk trouble.
That's great, because the big recurring theme of the MCU has been copying and escalation. Iron Man completes his armor? Imitations and super-power equivalents (fueled by Extremis) pop up and present a threat. Asgard's Destroyer demolishes a small town? SHIELD reverse engineers a gun with one heck of a wallop.
I would love to hear a line in a standalone Hulk movie, of how the bad guy du jour has harvested the Abomination for enough samples, etc. to start experimenting on making Hulks with self-control; Jade Giant soldiers, sold to the highest bidder.
This would give Banner something to focus on, AND give the Hulk something to fight. (Just no more Hulk Dogs. Okay? Just no.)
Banner needs to care, a lot, if it's going to matter to us, too. The last thing he'd want is to see his work used to make more People of Mass Destruction, especially if control over the monster within is something that eludes him.
Let's say the bad guys are running into problems with the 'formula'. Either the subjects die before they Hulk, they don't Hulk very well, or they don't Hulk very well and then die. Lab coats trying to crack the secret might logically resort to eliminating as many variables from the equation as possible, including finding someone who shares Banner's DNA.
Long before she ever turned green, Jennifer Walters was one hell of an attorney. How hard would it be for Bad Guys, Inc. to put her on retainer, as an excuse to keep tabs on her until they resort to using her as a guinea pig directly?
Banner's biggest recurring theme in the comics, his TV show, even the movies (up to The Avengers) was about finding a cure, or at least finding control. Specifically, how he comes excruciatingly close to attaining it, only for it to slip through his fingers at the last moment.
Now imagine that Banner finds Bad Guys Inc. messing with his work, his family, and his Big Green Burden. If the pseudo-Hulks weren't surviving the process and Jennifer's life were on the line, I imagine that would be proper motivation for Banner to find a solution... which then goes to Jennifer, so she'll survive. Jennifer winds up a perfectly in-control She-Hulk, and Banner quietly slips away, as always.
I think it'd be more satisfying to see Bruce struggling for something he legitimately cares about, to face some good old fashioned weirdness, to bring in She-Hulk, and to have Bruce wander away at the end, no better off than he was before.
What do you think?