Thursday, December 21, 2006

Life Lessons: The Incredible Hulk

When I was young I watched an episode of The Incredible Hulk in which the affable Dr. Bruce Banner fell in love with and married a doctor who was fighting a terminal illness of her own.

Conventional treatments had failed her, so she resorted to using a visualization technique in which she imagined a wagon train (her body) as being under attack by Native American warriors (the disease), and the cavalry (her immune system) coming to the rescue. As their love blossomed, she convinced Dr. Banner to use the technique to overcome his rage issues.

Sadly, both were doomed to failure. She died and he remained unable to control the beast within.

Over the years, I've thought about this episode many times and I've carried it's lessons with me. Among other things, it taught me that the power of positive thinking has its limits; that one should never use cheesy clips from 1940's westerns during what is supposed to be a heart wrenching scene; and that following a dying doctor home and falling in love with her will only lead to heartbreak.

However, the most important life lesson I learned was this:

Never bombard myself with gamma radiation in the hopes of endowing myself with unearthly strength, lest I be transformed into a raging, green monstrosity.1

1 Of course, the comic book version of the Hulk's origin differs, hence the famous French saying:
"Au cours d'une opération scientifique qui a mal tourné, le docteur Bruce Banner est exposé à une surdose de radiations nucléaires. Miraculeusement indemne, il sort néanmoins affecté de cette douloureuse expérience et développe le pouvoir de se transformer en Hulk, un monstre vert à la force surhumaine et à la rage incontrôlable. Cette créature ne se manifeste que lorsque ce dernier est soumis à une intense émotion. Mis au ban de la société, le docteur Banner est obligé de se cacher pour ne pas faire subir aux autres sa métamorphose. Le général Ross, le père de Betty, l'ex-petite amie de Bruce, est chargé de stopper le monstre par tous les moyens. Glenn Talbot, rival scientifique de Banner, est également sur les traces de Hulk. Lorsque Betty découvre que la créature a un rapport avec les recherches du père de Bruce, elle devient la seule à pouvoir comprendre ce qu'est Hulk... "