Stan Lee on his inspiration for a brilliant scientist who struggles to control the powerful emotions that transform him into a mindless beast:
Q. Okay. Let’s go now to the Incredible Hulk. And could you tell us how The Incredible Hulk came about? What was your idea for him?
STAN LEE: Well, same thing. I was trying to — it was my job to come up with new characters and to expand the line as much as I could. So I was trying to think again what can I do that’s different. I liked the thing very much, and I thought, what if I get somebody who is a real monster? And I remembered I had always in the old movie Frankenstein with Boris Karloff I had always thought that that monster was the good guy because he didn’t want to hurt anybody, but those idiots with torches who were always chasing him up and down the hills.
Q. He was a misunderstood monster.
STAN LEE: A mis — you said it better than I could have. So I thought it would be fun to get a monster who is really good but nobody knows it, and they fight him. But then the more I thought about it, I figured it could be dull after awhile just having people chasing a monster. And I remember Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I thought, why not treat him like Jekyll and Hyde? He’s really a normal man who can’t help turning into a monster, and it would make a very interesting story if when he needs his monstrous strength the most, the poor guy turns back into a normal man. I could get a lot of story complications. So I thought that would be good.
The story arc of the Hulk is about recognizing that our curses can become our greatest blessings. Initially the Hulk stories start as modern variations of their Frankenstein roots. The Hulk is more monster than hero. It’s only as the story progresses that he comes to in time realize that he can learn to control when he transforms into the Hulk and then remain conscious and use the awesome power for Good instead of Evil.
In the films we see this arc conclude in The Avengers. Bruce Banner has learned to summon up his emotions and control them, so that his rage can become a weapon to help save humanity:
Washington became a rebel and a revolutionary well aware that, in the event of defeat, just as Franklin said, he would be hanged, drawn and quartered by the king’s justice. As the culprit in chief, he could expect no mercy. The revolutionaries all fought, he later said, “with halters around our necks.” But his recurrence to the imagery of hanging — and to the real thing — reminds us not only of his courage and realism, but also of the remarkable, even perpetual fury he usually buried or concealed behind a calm, stony façade. When he had reached the limit of his patience with war profiteers at Valley Forge, Washington erupted in a violent rage that would not have surprised any of his subordinates — “I would to God,” he burst out to the president of Congress, “that one of the most atrocious of each state was hung in gibbets upon a gallows five times as high as the one prepared for Haman.”
These gallows and halters show us something else as well: the discipline, the iron will that sets Washington apart from almost all of his contemporaries. In the Benedict Arnold affair, when the captured British spy John Andre, a handsome and sympathetic figure, pleaded to be executed like a gentleman by a firing squad, Washington turned his back. Despite the wrenching protests of Hamilton and Lafayette, he ordered Andre hanged in full view of the army, as an example to his own soldiers and a message to the British. “Policy,” he explained to the French admiral Rochambeau, “required a sacrifice.”