Questions about The Avengers Movie
May 19, 2012 6:59 AM   Subscribe

At the risk of sounding like an idiot, I have some questions about The Avengers (the movie). Mild spoilers inside.

I loved the movie, and I know it is not meant to be over analyzed, but as we drove home from the theater we had some questions:

1 - Why did the Hulk want to kill Scarlett Johansson (and Thor, for that matter) while they were in the flying aircraft carrier? He was pretty reasonable, and definitely "good" during the Manhattan battle. But on the aircraft carrier he was just a crazy monster who wanted to kill anyone in his path, even innocents. What's up with that?

2 - Why is it that Thor and Hulk seemed to be about equally matched for strength while on the aircraft carrier, but later in Manhattan Hulk seemed to be 1,000 times stronger than Thor? Remember on the aircraft carrier Thor actually blocked one of Hulk's punches and held his arm still. There's no way he could have done that in Manhattan. Note the difference between Thor's ability to fight with Loci hand-to-hand and Hulk's. To Hulk, Loci may as well have been a rag doll.

3 - Why is it that Banner's secret to controlling the monster is "that he's always angry"? Huh? Then why isn't he always The Hulk?

I know the most tempting answer to my question is "lighten up - it's just a movie". And believe me, I'm not taking any of this seriously. It was a really fun movie - we laughed, we cried. But I'm just wondering if there's something about the Marvel universe mythology that I don't understand (or something that I missed in the movie) that explains some of these things.

Thanks.
posted by crapples to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: 1) Loki was screwing with everyone's mind. If you notice, at several times, different characters sort of wince and touch their foreheads and blink. That's Loki's influence. He was trying to turn them against each other.

2) Comic book-based rationale: the angrier Hulk gets, the stronger he gets. You'll notice that as the fight on the helicarrier progresses, Hulk begins to overpower Thor before Fury sends the fighter jet to distract him and lure him off the ship.

3) My thinking on that note is that Banner has learned to control the transition to a certain extent. When he first was dosed with the gamma radiation, his transformation into Hulk was uncontrollable. But part of Banner's backstory has been his travels around the world, seeking out meditation techniques and such, and his efforts to identify the "monster within". Hulk is basically Banner's uncontrollable Id: A hugely powerful tantrum-throwing toddler. So when Banner says "I'm always angry" I take it to mean that he has learned to more subtly identify his inner turmoil and reason with his inner self.
posted by Fleebnork at 7:13 AM on May 19, 2012 [12 favorites]


The answer to all of this is that the movie is playing fast and loose with the comics' canon and mythos. The Hulk has flitted between awareness and rage in the comics, he gets stronger as he gets angrier, and at the end of the Edward Norton movie, he's shown to be gaining control of the transformations. But in this movie, it's all a mishmash.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:15 AM on May 19, 2012


I've wondered about the first one myself. It's as though between the first half of the movie and the second the Hulk went from mindless monster to cognitive team member.

The second one... I'm just guessing on this one but I think that Thor and the Hulk are evenly matched still. The reason the Hulk tossed Loki around like a rag doll is because Thor never goes full out against his "brother," so Loki is the weaker of the two. One of the many reasons why Loki hates Thor. Also, it was hella funny and the Hulk wasn't out to kill Loki just teach him a lesson. And he took him by surprise, Loki wasn't expecting resistance.

The third is easy. Banner has been looking for a way to control the beast for a long time and there are different degrees of anger. All he has to do is keep it bottled until he needs to be enraged then let it lose -- as he did in New York.
posted by patheral at 7:16 AM on May 19, 2012


I hope it's okay to add to the OP's question. Why didn't Nick Fury shoot a nuke through the portal as soon as he appraised the situation? He could have destroyed that capital ship in six minutes. Was he not authorized to use the nukes?

For that matter, if a nuke would have destroyed Loki and the army and SHIELD had them, why bother with developing Tesseract-powered bombs?
posted by michaelh at 7:23 AM on May 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think anyone even knew there was a capital ship until Stark flew through the portal and saw it. And then he was only trying to get the nuke away from NYC; the capital ship was a target of opportunity. They also didn't know blowing up that ship would stop all the soldiers.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:31 AM on May 19, 2012


michealh, Fury wasn't trying to nuke the portal, he was arguing against nukes in the first place. The shady characters (forget who they are at the moment) sent the missile to nuke New York. Iron Man is the one who diverted the missile to the portal because the Black Widow was closing it and might as well let it lose on the enemy than destroy Manhattan.
posted by patheral at 7:33 AM on May 19, 2012


Response by poster: Fleebnork - Those are actually very satisfying answers. Thanks.

As for michaelh - I agree with the others: Stark said "I know just the place to put it". I think he was just thinking that throwing the nuke through the portal would save NYC. He had no idea that he could throw it at the mother ship (or that a mother ship even existed) and win the battle in one move.
posted by crapples at 7:41 AM on May 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


1) Loki was screwing with everyone's mind. If you notice, at several times, different characters sort of wince and touch their foreheads and blink. That's Loki's influence. He was trying to turn them against each other.

And note the focus shot of Loki's magic scythe during the argument before it all kicks off - I assumed it was through this that he was influencing the whole gang.
posted by Hobo at 7:43 AM on May 19, 2012


My theory for #3 is the same as patheral. That Banner is always angry in order to keep the level of anger at which has transforms very high.

We've all have periods of being mildly annoyed and very flipping pissed off. I took his always angry line to mean he is always irate so that he doesn't become Hulk from minor annoyances. So that dropping his ice cream cone doesn't make him big and green.

I mean, if you look back through the movie, he was at best grumpy through the whole thing. It was implied that he was that way because Fury wanted to use him and he was suspicious. Maybe that's just what he honed in on to stay irate.
posted by royalsong at 8:16 AM on May 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


You've already marked a Best Answer, but I have a different take on some of the questons.

1 - Why did the Hulk want to kill Scarlett Johansson (and Thor, for that matter) while they were in the flying aircraft carrier?

She pulled Banner out of safe situation where he was happy, by promising him he wouldn't get involved in any dangerous situations. Banner was probably pissed about that, anybody would be, hence the Hulk wanting her dead. The creature isn't known for being rational, just angry.

Thor was getting in the way of the first goal, so the Hulk went after him.



Why is it that Banner's secret to controlling the monster is "that he's always angry"? Huh? Then why isn't he always The Hulk?

Once you recognize what the problem is, it doesn't have much power over you. I get the sense Banner came to terms with a lot of his inner anger and frustrations and was thus able to control the transformations more. This probably influenced the Hulk's personality also.

That's why Hulk was more of a team player in the New York battle. Banner voluntarily went into the dangerous situation and willed the transformation to take place. So Hulk was able to recognize the other Avengers as friends and the aliens as enemies.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:37 AM on May 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why didn't Nick Fury shoot a nuke through the portal as soon as he appraised the situation? He could have destroyed that capital ship in six minutes. Was he not authorized to use the nukes?

Remember, they put the nuke in the portal because they had discovered how to close the portal. Fury didn't order a nuke because he had no idea how it would affect the city through the open portal.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:43 AM on May 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


It isn't lost on Bruce Banner that Black Widow is manipulative, in fact on par with Loki. So, when everything goes to heck and his promise of safety and research is replaced by arguing fighting, blowing up, hurting... Well, it is pretty obvious to the Hulk who talked him into being there in the first place. After that he's just responding to the last thing that made him hurt. Remember, Dr. Banner points out that while the Hulk may not be injured when he is attacked, it is like being one big raw nerve. All those blows and bullets HURT!
posted by meinvt at 11:11 AM on May 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, there are deleted scenes in the preceding movies that were left out of the releases, on the DVDs, but still used as references in the movie.

For example, the part where Banner mentions putting a gun in his mouth, pulling the trigger, and then 'the other guy' spits it out? Deleted scene, on the DVD.

I expect on the DVD release of the Avengers, we'll see some scenes that got edited out related to your questions.
posted by mephron at 1:03 PM on May 19, 2012


My take was that, when Banner Hulks out by being triggered, he is less able to control himself. However, Bruce has also learned a way to let himself transform into the Hulk, and when he does it himself is able to maintain some manner of control of Hulk.
posted by InsanePenguin at 9:45 PM on May 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


My take was that, on the aircraft carrier, Banner hasn't yet learned to control the Hulk

At the end of The Incredible Hulk, Bruce has learned how to control the Hulk, in situations where he transforms willingly. That whole movie was about the Hulk learning to control it. The wristwatch heart monitor, the breathing exercises, taking a beating from the teacher. The end scene shows him sitting in a shack meditating, and then he's got the green eyes. I would assume he transformed and was able to control it. In the Flying Fortress, he did not trigger the transformation, it was triggered by external factors, so he had no vision of where to direct the anger, it was just AHHHHH!!!!!! SMASH!!!!!!
posted by XhaustedProphet at 10:39 PM on May 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


My take on the "always angry" was to make it explicit that it wasn't that Banner turns into The Hulk when he gets angry, but that at every single moment Banner is actively tamping down The Hulk. And after so long sublimated, The Hulk comes out with a vengeance. Which follows with the increase in control as well - Hulk has already had a bit of a run, so he's less elemental.
posted by geek anachronism at 4:01 AM on May 20, 2012


1. Fleebnork is right. Remember that Black Widow tricks Loki into revealing that his evil plan somehow involved the Hulk. Loki was counting on Banner's presence: his intention was to gather all the Avengers including the Hulk on the ship and split them up by magically intensifying their squabbling with his staff (that scene where they're all arguing and reflected in the staff's ominous shininess). Thus Banner would be goaded into uncontrollable Hulkdom and destroy the ship and all the people on it: during his final outburst of the argument scene, Banner has unconsciously picked up the staff while shouting.

Loki's plan fails in part because he underestimated Banner's control (Banner doesn't hulk out while holding the magic control staff, only later while injured) and he underestimated the Avengers' ability to put their arguments on hold to work together to save people (Steve and Tony's whole "put on the armor"/"no really put on the armor" thing). Moody loner villain foiled by self-control and teamwork!
posted by nicebookrack at 8:39 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let's back up from the idea that he learned anything in between - the episodes were hours (tens of hours?) apart.

Going into this, Banner had left a fairly emotionally-stable life and things had been getting progressively more and more stressful. He presumably has not hulked out in quite a while. Judging from his later comment, it's about realizing that "being angry" is no excuse - at any moment of the day, he could consider himself to be angry (angry about the failed experiment and his resulting lot in life, angry because Stark's a jerk, angry because his underwear itches, who knows). It's not about feeling no anger "and now you've made me angry" it's about awareness of anger, acceptance, management, and problem solving - maybe it's a question of what the anger is for, and if there's not a purpose that the anger can serve, then there's no call for the Hulk. Ideally.

In the first situation, he was on a flying aircraft carrier, and was very aware of the fact that putting him+a lot of bystanders into an isolated space together was a terrible idea (granted, he thought it was a submarine not an aircraft when he said that, but the point still stands). In concept, Hulk's solution to every problem is to rip, smash, or destroy it, and that's not a great idea in an enclosed flying space. Especially when he (Banner) is frustrated with his allies and unsure of who the enemy is (there's Loki, but he's locked away; there are soldiers, but they're in the SHIELD uniforms), there's not much "the other guy" would be good at in that situation. So, despite increasing anger, he's trying to avoid the transformation, because Banner doesn't have anything he wants the Hulk to do.
Later, he's facing the kind of problem the Hulk is good at, so he lets him loose.

Consider, if he's got 75% control, he's putting all his efforts into saying "don't" and you get a low-power uncontrolled Hulk vs. later, all his efforts into saying "smash those guys" and you get a full-power fairly directed Hulk with imperfect control expressed by occasional backhanding of teammates, and accommodated by not giving him very explicit orders or expecting high-finesse results.

And yes. Those are the exact questions I wrestled with before I justified it to myself by making all this crap up.
posted by aimedwander at 9:35 AM on May 20, 2012


Those are the exact questions I wrestled with before I justified it to myself by making all this crap up.
Man, coming up with explanations that fit all of the canon is hard. I think I'm gonna have to fall back on "Because it's cool, alright?" for now.

If intense fanwankery analysis of comic book movies is wrong, I don't want to be right. Also, I will have no reason to use my BA in English, so I will be SAD.

Anyway, you are both right in ways, because (one reason I adore The Avengers is) a Bigass Theme of the movie is power vs control, and how they are work with and against each other. Partly a deliberate theme, especially with Bruce's subplot, and partly not deliberate: but it's always, who has power in this scene, who has control? Power, control, and I think a third element suggested by Coulson against Loki: "you're going to lose, you lack conviction." The Hulk has power without control and Bruce control without power; together under Bruce's control the Hulk is more powerful than ever. Loki mind-controls powerful characters but he can't control Tony or the Hulk. Widow's enemies are powerful over her but she's the one in control. Fury and the shadowy floating heads struggle for control of SHIELD and argue over appropriate wielding of power. Tony doesn't want the power of his armor or of the Avengers under government/SHIELD control. And on and on. BRB, extrapolating into thesis paper
posted by nicebookrack at 10:47 PM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


The answer to all of this is that the movie is playing fast and loose with the comics' canon and mythos. The Hulk has flitted between awareness and rage in the comics, he gets stronger as he gets angrier, and at the end of the Edward Norton movie, he's shown to be gaining control of the transformations. But in this movie, it's all a mishmash.

Cool Papa Bell, nothing you've described is "fast and loose with the comics"... not even the parts of the comics' canon you've described. In fact, it follows it pretty well: the movie/comic Hulk both flit between awareness and rage (and it's happened within a single comic issue/movie, BTW), and despite the fact that by the 2nd movie he is clearly gaining control of his transformations, his control is still imperfect.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:15 AM on May 21, 2012


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