*This essay contains spoilers for the new movie Avengers Endgame*
Fear. The feeling largely comprised of the unknown. Throughout human history, it has been proven time and time again that the unknown has caused the most fear throughout society and has led to many of the most tragic events known to man. Fear leads mankind to create monsters out of things that are seemingly human, and when they cannot logically do so, they create propaganda to fill the void in which the dehumanization could not occur. Monsters are creatures created based solely on the basis of the lack of a certain amount of humanity. Monsters must be “the other”; they must lack something humans have or vice versa, must have something humans do not possess. The fear of the unknown also succeeds in creating a suspense that intrigues us and invites us to enjoy it. Monsters then begun to be created for the sole entertainment of man. The Incredible Hulk is a monster created by Stan Lee of Marvel Comics, but in quite the opposite light of a monster, as a superhero. It begins with one of the brightest minds in the world in the scientist Bruce Banner, who after working with gamma radiation, becomes infested with it, and develops an alter ego, the Hulk, who comes into being when Dr. Banner’s blood pressure rises, or he becomes angry. The Hulk is known for his temper tantrums which often include the destruction of buildings and the loss of life. By my definition, a monster is anything that is different than ourselves, and anything different than ourselves, has to be dehumanized into a monster, and that is the essence of The Incredible Hulk.
As with many other created monsters, the Hulk has its own origin story and is influenced by monsters that came before him. The character was heavily influenced by a character created in the novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In this story, Erica McCrystal, who writes for the University of Toronto Quarterly, claims that “Mr. Hyde illustrates the terrifying potential for the beast within to emerge and reflects the Victorian society’s fears of the possibility of human degeneration”. The monster depicted humanity’s fear, and this fear happened to be human generation. Although the Hulk was heavily influenced by this creature, the monster also took inspiration from the very beginning with Frankenstein, which Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’s character was inspired from as well. The stories align almost too perfectly. All of them consist of a mad scientist and their creation/alter ego, which is portrayed as a monstrous creation. Mr. Hyde’s and Marvel’s creation are almost identical in that the scientist actually becomes the alter ego due to their experiments. As one of Cohen’s theories states, the monster’s body is a cultural body. The monster of Frankenstein, a creature that influenced the Hulk, for example, was used to symbolize the people’s fear of science at the time, seeing that Dr. Frankenstein used science to bring the dead back to life. The Hulk was created at a time where comics were gaining headway. The people wanted superheroes who were different from themselves, and exuded powers such as strength, which the Hulk possessed. In the first comic book published with the Hulk as its main character, the Hulk represented an experiment that went wrong. He was pure rage, unintelligible, and uncontrollable, characteristics common amongst monsters.
Comic book studios such as Marvel and their rivals alike, often make several variations of popular characters to go into depth of said character and give the public what they want. Since there have been several Hulk movies as well, each director displays the Hulk in their own way, and varies the personality or powers of the creature. Marvel Comics made a version of the Hulk that was grey and more importantly, intelligent. The creature becomes less monstrous and more human-ish. The depiction of this version is very comparable to a mob boss, seeing that he resides in Las Vegas, enjoys women, dresses in suits, and smokes cigars (Explained). This new depiction of the monster creates a more complex character and allows the reader to see the monster in a new light. The Marvel Cinematic Universe introduced the Hulk to the audience back in 2008, and has developed the character in major ways. Who was once a major force to be reckoned with in The Incredible Hulk (2008), has transformed into a form of comedic relief in Thor Ragnarok (2017). Marvel Studios recognized that there are plenty of characters known for being strong, and felt that audiences wanted a character that could provide comedy for the audience to laugh at. Any creature that is different in any variation from humans can be classified as a monster, but what makes it a good monster.
To represent a quality monster, they cannot be one-dimensional. Any creature can be super strong, but what makes the Hulk from the Marvel Cinematic Universe different is the complexity to his character. The alter ego of the monster, Dr. Bruce Banner, is a world renowned scientist who leads in gamma radiation research (The Avengers 2012). This “monster” has the best of both worlds, incredible strength and incredible intelligence, two characteristics not typically known to both be attainable. While Bruce Banner might be brought in to help a situation because his knowledge is needed, he can also be of use if incredible feats of strength is necessary.
Because we are humans ourselves, we enjoy human characteristics within a monster. A quality monster shows their humanity when it matters most. While sometimes it happens to be the good qualities shown amongst humans such as humility or honesty, it can also be imperfection. Anything that makes a monster more human-like is what makes them of higher quality. As it so happens in Avengers Endgame (2019), the Hulk/Bruce Banner performs the highest act of humility when he puts on the Gauntlet with Infinity Stones and risks his life by snapping his fingers to bring back the other 50% of humanity. Self-sacrifice is oftentimes rare within humans, and because of this, is regarded highly. For years, the Hulk had been depicted as a monster who crushed everything in his way, but at the end of his character development, is shown risking his life for everyone else, which makes him as special as ever.
Seeing that the monster that the Hulk represents in the movies develops as they continue to come out, my rating for him changes. The beast from The Incredible Hulk was a solid A in my opinion. He is chased down by the government the whole movie and is consistently demonized by them, but when the world needs him most, he still steps up and saves them, even though he was always mistreated. He becomes a dynamic character at the end because he shows incredible humility while also displaying his immense strength. The Hulk from Thor Ragnarok I rate as a B-. He shows too many human characteristics in my opinion in the movie which over-humanizes him. He serves as comedic relief, and that is not the Hulk I enjoy as a monster. From Avengers Infinity War and Avengers Endgame, I give the monster an easy D. The Hulk is given little screen time in Infinity War and even in Endgame, it is more so all Bruce Banner while he looks like the Hulk. The hero was given very little justice in my opinion, and the characteristics that made him a monster (super strength, destruction, uncontrollable, etc) are never put to use. He was simply another scientist for them, and not the monster I knew and loved.
At the end of the day, what does this all matter? Many of these monsters are fictional, and have low possibility of ever becoming reality. We analyze these monsters because we are the ones that create them. The monsters we create reflect our own ambitions and desires or quite opposite, what we fear the most. Frankenstein’s monster mirrored his creator to such a point that the doctor refused to make any more of him. Bruce Banner was a scientist, and every scientist seeks control, control of what they experiment with. The Hulk was the uncontrollable variable that Dr. Banner feared the most. Monsters can vary from immoral acts such as racism, or a political figure with opposing ideological ideals, or even a beastly person who attains unparalleled amounts of strength. The monsters are the ones that we decide to make, and prove that the prerequisites of the title are quite vague.
Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. “Monster Culture (Seven Theses)”
This document in summary describes the ways in which monsters are characterized and what makes them monsters. I used this source because the first thesis is a theory that could apply to my monster, the Hulk, and provides more explanation as to how he is a monster. I deem it as a credible source because it was given to me as a source by my own professor and regarded as credible.
Comics, Variant. “Alternate Versions Of The Hulk!” YouTube, YouTube, 14 Apr. 2018,
This video serves to display to the viewer ten different versions of the comic book character “The Hulk”. There are many more versions of the character, but this video gives us ten of the most popular ones. The intent of this video I believe was to not only entertain, but also inform. I chose this source because it gives accurate information on different versions created by different comic book writers. I consider this source to be reliable because he takes the information straight from the comics from which the character itself was created and cites those comics.
Explained, Comics. “The Return of Grey Hulk/Joe Fix It (Red Hulk Vol 2: Red/Green).” YouTube,
YouTube, 19 Dec. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbvS0j0f_jo. 4:00-5:10
This video is used to inform the viewer of storylines within comics about the character “The Hulk”. In summary, he gives a retelling of the comics and describes them to us while giving the details. I used this source because he goes into detail describing a variation of the character I am using that is quite different from the typically well-known version. I consider this source to be credible because the information he provides is straight from the comic books themselves and he provides images of the comics themselves throughout the video.
McCrystal, Erica. “Hyde the Hero: Changing the Role of the Modern-Day Monster.” University of
Toronto Quarterly, vol. 87, no. 1, Winter 2018, pp. 234–248. EBSCOhost,
The purpose of this article was to go into detail about the character created in the novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Mr. Hyde illustrates the terrifying potential for the beast within to emerge and reflects the Victorian society’s fears of the possibility of human degeneration. I am using this source because it references how the monster I am writing my report on, was influenced by the character referenced in the article. I deem this source as credible because it has been peer reviewed by many academic scholars.
“The Incredible Hulk,” Louis Leterrier, 2008, Universal Pictures
In summary, this movie shows how a scientist was genetically mutated by gamma radiation to become a large green monster when his blood pressure rises. The story revolves around him escaping the government because they want to turn him into a weapon, and him attempting to resist turning into the monster whenever he can. I used this source because it was one of the first displays of the Hulk from the comics in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and in this universe, the Hulk is a superhero, quite the opposite of a “monster” as he is often described. I rely on this being a reliable source because it comes from Universal Pictures, one of the largest movie production studios in the world.
“The Avengers,” Joss Whedon, 2012, Marvel Studios
This movie is about a team of superheroes that were gathered together to save the planet from an alien invasion. One of these heroes happens to be The Hulk, the “monster” I am writing about. I am using this source because it displays a version of the Hulk that is widely known and a common variation of it. I consider this to be a reliable source because it came from Marvel Studios, the creators of the actual Hulk character.
“Thor Ragnarok,” Taika Waititi, 2017, Marvel Studios
This movie focuses on the god Thor Odinson, who returns to his home world and tries to defeat his evil sister. I used this source because the Hulk is a useful ally to Thor in this movie and it shows the change in how his character is depicted. I consider it a credible source because the movie was produced by Marvel Studios itself, the company that made the Thor character in the comics.