This piece was being pushed around Twitter yesterday, and for good reason: it is a thoughtful and close reading of a character that could only be written by a critic who is also a fan, or at least who loves the character under examination. Film Crit Hulk looks not only at Mark Ruffalo’s performance in The Avengers, but also at Bruce Banner and The Hulk and what makes them compelling fictions. Ruffalo’s rendition of Banner is placed in the context of other interpretations, with Bill Bixby’s portrayal as a baseline.
One observation made here that I think is true for not only The Hulk, but for most comic book heroes (and villains) with dual identities is that casting, and getting “right”, the “civilian” aspect of the character is crucial to making the alter also interesting. As Film Crit notes, whatever identification viewers might have with The Hulk hinges on the identification one has with Bruce Banner. Yes, there is something appealing about thinking about being a big, strong, essentially invulnerable force that can smash whatever it wants, but it is only in knowing Bruce Banner that The Hulk becomes a character and not a spectacle.
One shot from The Avengers that I think shows what Film Crit Hulk notes as the compellingly contradictory nature of Bruce Banner/The Hulk, particularly in this incarnation, is one where Thor and The Hulk have just finished off a group of Chitauri, including one of the ‘big fish’. The two stand side-by-side and the Norse God turns to The Hulk, clearly thinking that they are going to share a moment, when Hulk punches Thor out of the frame. This is what it means to be Bruce Banner/The Hulk: always angry, able to battle alongside his compatriots, but unable to pause and savor the moment. This shot got a huge laugh from the audience in the theater I was in, which also goes to Film Crit Hulk’s analysis of the character and Ruffalo’s performance. I don’t think that there would be as much knowing joy from the audience if they were not on his side, sympathizing with his pain, as well as marveling at The Hulk’s strength and raw emotion.
You can read Film Crit Hulk’s essay in The New Yorker here: http://t.co/h6MQZ8lW
Follow Film Crit Hulk on WordPress and on Twitter.
I finally compiled enough links to post a new round-up.
In the area of teaching and learning:
- At Inside Higher Ed, Robert Eisinger writes about the importance of “teaching ambiguity”. This is one of my great challenges. Cultural geographers deal with subjects that are ambiguous in their meaning and significance, and one thing I try to do is to help students develop tools and perspectives that enable them to effectively address topics where answers can be open-ended and much depends on the questions asked and in what context.
- Curiosity Counts provides this quick hit about teens and geo-location services.
Turning to geography-related matters:
- Jake Tobin Garrett has a defense of “messiness” in Toronto, and in cities in general. While one way to look at telephone polls plastered with fliers is as eyesores, Garrett points to them as indicators of a city’s creativity and energy.
- SightLine has an interesting look at traffic volume in the Pacific Northwest, and how it has fallen short of expectations, suggesting that transportation planning need not be as car-oriented as it has been.
Renee French posted this image of a woman with a closed eye that I can’t quite shake. I think there is something compelling in the contract between the enclosed eye and the open one.
This, via ComicsAlliance, is awesome news, even if it is speculative.
Finally, I found The Mary Sue, a new blog devoted to girl geek culture, via GeekGirlCon on Twitter. And at The Mary Sue, Susana Polo has an interesting post arguing for women, and sexual minorities, to strategically gender or “out” themselves online as a way to break down the idea that the internet is a male/masculine space. The discussion in comments is well worth reading, too. While you are there, read Polo’s introduction/mission statement for the site.
Items that I have been compiling.
From the world of academia:
- Last week, Michelle Obama gave a little noted talk encouraging study abroad for American college students. Her focus on China is predictable, but I do appreciate that she seems to have grounded that in a broader appeal. It isn’t easy getting Western students to leave the comforts of home, but maybe as the university attracts more international students itself, that will change.
- On her Cocktail Party Physics blog, Jennifer Ouellette has a great post on Veronica Mars as a model for girls in science.
- rabble.ca has an interesting post about the University of Toronto General Assembly, which is an attempt on the part of students, faculty, staff, and community to build an alternate governing model for the university.
Turning to comics:
- Via Ragnell on Written World, is a link to this Metrokitty comic on the “paper mirror” which succinctly explains why diversity in comics matters.
- On the other side of that debate, Gail Simone on her tumblr blog, tangles with an aspiring comics writer regarding his desire not to be compelled to write a comics with a gay hero.
- Project:Rooftop recently featured this cool Victorian Batman by Matthew Humphreys.
- Finally, it isn’t really news anymore, but I learned of the new Batman film casting via Comics Alliance. Right now, I am mostly interested to know what it means that Anne Hathaway has been cast as “Selina Kyle” rather than as Catwoman.
And in urban geography, via Inhabitat, Washington DC unveiled a bike station adjacent to Union Station. On the Spacing Magazine blog, Alex Bozikovic, looks at an interesting contest to design wildlife pathways for major roads and highways. Some very cool ideas. And in my feed at least, via ProgGrrl on Twitter, I found this interesting map showing where in the U.S. it make more sense to rent and where it makes more sense to buy. Culturally, of course, in the U.S. ownership is always assumed to be better.
A few interesting links before I begin working on a new “Worlds in Panels”:
Marguerite Reardon, yesterday on cnet, has a good overview of the new FCC rules regarding net neutrality. In the end, this looks like one of those political compromises that can be cast as the ‘right’ solution because no one is happy with it, but, in fact, no one is happy because the decision makes little sense as an approach to the problem at hand.
At The Unofficial Apple Weblog is speculation as to whether Apple will be a target of “Anonymous” now that the company has pulled the WikiLeaks app from the store. I am disappointed that this choice was made, but have long given up the illusion that just because I like their tech and design sensibilities that Apple is anything other than a profit-maximizing, risk-averse corporation.
In the cities and design realm, on Lost Remote, I saw this piece about interactive bus shelters in San Francisco. The article is really just a ‘teaser’ about the project, but I am certainly intrigued by the possibilities of using public space like this for social interaction and play.
In comics movie news:
- At The Wild Hunt, Jason delivers the best response I have read to the racist furor over Idris Elba having been cast as Heimdall in the upcoming Thor movie (link via Ragnell on Twitter).
- And this casting news, from MTV’s Splash Page, is something I like.
Finally, a Christmas memory from Kate Beaton.
A few items I have collected:
At Inside Higher Education is a debate about the value of the humanities that begins with Gregory Petsko’s open letter to SUNY-Albany’s president, George Phillip, regarding his announcement of cuts to various language and arts departments. Petsko makes the case for the humanities as valuable to a variety of life paths, and not just in reference to a specific job or career track, and also argues for the university’s role in ‘preserving knowledge’ as well as training for the present. The comments, of course, are interesting, too, Petsko seems to have his own private troll, and then there is this puzzling follow-up from University of Illinois English lecturer, Kristin Wilcox. I write ‘puzzling’ because, as a few commenters point out, Wilcox, while appreciating Petsko’s defense of the humanities, also sees his perspective as naive, but she does not directly suggest how the humanities should be valued if not in the way that Petsko argues.
On Written World is a pointed comment on a recent discussion of Jessica Alba’s performance in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, where Alba was directed to “be prettier” when she cried. Alba expressed some anguish at being told to be less ‘real’ in her performance, and more like the object of beauty the director and producers had in mind then they cast her. This story is interesting for how keenly aware of her objectification Alba is, I think many would assume that she would not be, and also because the critique at Written World of the response to her is clear and incisive.
Two items of cool: (via Robot 6) a This American life poster reproducing a panel from the Nation X comics, and this ‘cinematic’ wallpaper at BLDGBLOG.