Puny Human

So I saw “The Avengers” last Sunday. Hella good fun. As I twooted on the Twatter, it was refreshing to see someone who understood that yes, yes, Bruce Banner’s got a demon in him and it’s all very serious and Freudian….

…and yet there’s a big green monster punching people in the taste hole, and this, like church, is supposed to be a joyous occasion. Let us turn to the book of Concussions, chapter 3, verses 6–9.

There was a nice little relationship build-up between Tony Stark and Bruce Banner that I vaguely got but didn’t consciously behold whose analysis John Hodgman preserved here on his excellent Tumblr, and if you are at all fond of superheroes, you should read it. Spoilers, if you have not seen the movie.

I’ve been mostly a DC Comics man for most of my life, because I have a fondness for the Gods and never quite let go of childhood power fantasies (there’s a post there, I think), but of course the more human heroes are more interesting. As Batman is the anti-Superman (and therefore more popular), so is Tony the anti-Hulk, but far more subtly.

Banner, in turn, is far more interesting than Clark Kent. He has the same near-godlike power and invulnerability, and yet he is so much more damaged, and his writers (unlike most who have handled Superman) understand that he probably should not be allowed to exist. But we can’t kill him.

Maybe Lex Luthor was right.

It’s a curious thing to cheer and laugh as throbbing, green, unbridled id unleashes biblical destruction in front of us. That’s Bruce’s appeal, of course: he, unlike we, can mostly control that raging bile duct of loathing and smallness and hate that we all have. Mostly. And then there is the smashing, which is glorious.