By Tony Lee.
Published by Telos Movie Classics.
The Hulk is perhaps one of the more underrated comic book characters but he is one of my favourites. There is such a profound sadness in Bruce Banner and I find him easier to empathise with because, unlike most comic book heroes, he has no control over his transformations and certainly does not choose them. I remember going to the cinema to watch Hulk (2003) and on reading this book I am surprised by how much of the film still feels familiar despite having not seen it for upwards of five years.
With the main focus of this book being on Ang Lee’s interpretation of the comic, Tony Lee begins his study slightly earlier than my recollections by looking at trailers prior to the film’s release. From that point he moves us through a structured analysis of the film including a discussion on the director and the techniques Ang Lee employed to ensure that the film was true to the original comic.
With Hulk the author demonstrates how Ang Lee created a new cinema genre, dubbed ‘superhero cinema’, with the use of a blend of well crafted effects and stylisation, powerful performances from the cast, and the use of visuals as a narrator, as well as ensuring that key elements from the original comics were replicated as closely as possible on screen.
Bruce Banner and Hulk, one in the same as they are, are of course antihero rather than superhero, and as you would expect a great deal of the book is taken up in studying the characters from the film. Lee draws on mythology, symbolism and examples from other media, literature in particular, to interpret and explain the characters’ limitations and confines.
What is particularly interesting in this book is the analysis of Bruce’s relationship with other characters, particularly with one-time love interest Betty and with his estranged father David. Key scenes from the movie are broken down to give an in-depth explanation as to what they signify within the narrative as well as in the wider context of our modern time.
What this book gives us is a detailed synopsis and interpretation of the principal elements of the film, from characters to colour, from its comic book origins to the graphic and filmic technologies and effects employed, and from its previous adaptations to the critical reception of Ang Lee’s Hulk. Tony Lee is clearly passionate about the character and delivers an insight that readers of the same opinion will appreciate.