Sharing God’s Story with The Incredible Hulk

The following assumes that you have already seen The Incredible Hulk, do not plan to see the Incredible Hulk but want to discuss it with people who have, or simply don’t care if the movie is “spoiled.” Consider yourself warned.

I enjoyed Iron Man more than The Incredible Hulk (I enjoyed the humor more, if not the product placement) but think that The Incredible Hulk makes for a better Reel Parable.

I understand there is no real “redemption” story in The Incredible Hulk. Instead, the movie is more of a compare/contrast study. Specifically, the Reel Parable in The Incredible Hulk is in the differences between the Hulk and the Abomination.

  • Bruce Banner – the Hulk – learns self-control (humility?), which is really a fruit of his relationship with and submission to Betty Ross, and finds the hope he is looking for.
  • Emil Blonsky – the Abomination – becomes controlled by his own lust for power (pride?).
Bruce makes a comment that he does not want to learn how to control “it” but would rather get rid of “it.” Now, I do not mean to sound like a religious nut-job, but I think the “it” in The Incredible Hulk is a good metaphor for the biblical/theological concept of sin. Bruce wants to be free from “it” while Blonsky wants to indulge “it” so that he can be more; more bigger, more stronger, more powerful, MORE!

At one point a scientist describes the Hulk as “godlike,” to which Blonsky replies “I want that.”

This desire – to be like God – echoes Isaiah 14:12-14 where the Devil says “I will make myself like God (the Most High)” and reverberates through his temptation of Eve in Genesis 3. Here the Devil tells Eve that if she will disobey God then her “eyes will be opened” and she “will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Adam and Eve do disobey God and their eyes are opened. They are ashamed of their nakedness which leads to the first death to cover – literally – their sin. Because they now know the difference between good an evil, so they are a *little* like God, but they are not *really* like God. They have simply disobeyed God, introduced the world to its first taste of sin (which has one nasty aftertaste!), and ushered in the “fall” of man.

In the context of The Incredible Hulk we see Bruce Banner going through great strides to control “it.” He does his best to remove himself from situations that will cause him to lose control (literally!) and even gives up what he wants – and who he loves – in order to control “it.”
The Hulk

Blonsky, however, does whatever he can and everything he can to indulge “it.”

Bruce tries to control “it.”

Blonsky tries to feed “it.”

Blonsky finally becomes the Abomination, the very personification of evil and self-indulgence.

Bruce finally learns self-control, but only when he – as the Hulk – learns to submit to that still and quiet voice; the voice of Betty Ross.

OK, so here’s there deal. I don’t want to push this metaphor too far and I do not want to sound like that religious caricature that sees Jesus in his waffle, toast, soap scum, etc. But, in the context of the movie – and in the context of the metaphor – I think it works. In the movie Betty Ross is very much like the Holy Spirit. In Galatians we are told that self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit.

Bruce as the Hulk learns to control “it” only when he submits to Betty Ross, much like when a Christian submits to the Holy Spirit. He can not – and does not – control “it” on his own.
As we submit to and obey the Holy Spirit we learn self-control (as well as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness.
As the Hulk submitted himself to Betty he also learned self-control, and finds the hope is has been looking for.
The Incredible Hulk is an incredible Reel Parable. This movie shows us the differences between someone who submits and humbles themselves to the Holy Spirit (the Hulk) and someone who does not (the Abomination).

One learns self-control while the other one is controlled by pride.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13