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Ang Lee and Queer Subjects: Hulk

Free «Ang Lee and Queer Subjects: Hulk» Essay Sample

For a filmmaker who has dealt with a range of genres, from nuanced literary American to iconic CGI-driven super heroics, from minor Chinese-language comedies to Kung-fu actions, it is easier to spot a film directed by Ang Lee. The Taiwanese-born and American-trained filmmaker has a diverse and deeply electric taste in subject matter, style, and settings. However, all thematic links recur across the director’s repression, family, work and thwarted desire. Lee is known for his diversity whereby each cinema is an entirely different subject and genre from the previous one. However, every choice of a film he makes explores the relationship between an individual and society as well as outsider. Furthermore, his work is consistent, just like other films of Billy Wilder and Howard Hawks (Bateman, John and Francisco 139). Despite diverse subject matter, Lee often manages to trace common themes in whatever film he directs to define the concept of globalization in cinema. The paper discusses Lee’s art and Queer subjects in his movie Hulk that showed inevitability of human tragedy experienced by an outsider who is obsessed with technological experimentation.


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The film focuses on the individual core towards all the special effects and bombast. Lee concentrates on the small scale as evidenced by the movie’s title that is composed of various types of molecules and cells. The opening of the film is characterized by the footage of David Banner, a young scientist, performing genetic experiments on monkeys, starfish, and later himself, after being warned that his experiments are dangerous. The effect of the test is then felt by the scientist’s son, Bruce. Bruce’s legs are bulged with ripple when he is upset. Banner works for a year to find a cure, but his work is shut down before he could complete his quest. The film shows how far a relationship can be severed as well as the link between a father and a son. Due to a blinding lust for power and the guilt over his mistakes, David Banner comes to see Bruce as a primary force and object that is waiting to be unleashed and most certainly not his son (Bateman and Veloso 146). The movie triumphantly mines the emotional and tragic aspect of Bruce mythos and gives it humanness that is rooted in a certain interaction. The feeling of characters is not revealed by a dialogue but rather their facial expression, body language, and posture.

In a period of interchangeable superhero movies, Hulk, which was created towards the end of the first wave of twenty-first-century films in the genre, remains something that is genuinely different. Eschewing the typical action and structural beats of the superhero movie, the film instead turns physiological and psychological freak-out of the scientist Banner, g Lee’s most repressed actor in an action full of them, into a kind of Greek tragedy stressing the sensibilities of the medium of the comic book at the same time. The manner in which the director turns the whole story into action remains an unparalleled stylistic and shocking flourish in a sea of spruced up epics. Lee has tried to compensate for the flat-footedness of the film with a series of camera tricks and editing (Dilley 106). Some of the tricks include screens that split into multiple panels as well as a close-up of eyeballs that serves as metaphorical and literal mirrors.

Hulk is a rare film among the superheroes in that his powers are a disadvantage and a curse. When Dr. Banner is overwhelmed by rage, he turns into a green a monster to lash out at his tormentors. The movie is about having undesired power. Lee’s film is the most thoughtful and eloquent recent comic book adaptation. The film reveals the issues about the misuse of scientific research as well as genetic experimentation. Remember that Lee is the director of such movies as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Sense and Sensitivity and The Ice Storm. The director is trying to deal with the issues raised in the Hulk story other than cutting to special effects. Lee utilizes quick scene transitions that have been inspired by the comic book material hence giving the proceedings the energy of action (Szeto 55). The Director can turn his Marvel comic tale into a strained father-son relationship. The tensed relationship between the father and child is further complicated when David’s son becomes a victim of gamma radiation.

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It could have been easier to turn the film into a comic book, a superhero film that could be easily digested by theatergoers. Fortunately, Lee looks deeper into Hulk’s spirit and brings out the darkness that has overwhelmed the character. This is not X-men or Spider-man; Hulk is a monster story along the lines Frankenstein. The director has made it easier for the viewer to sympathize the superhero and even get to know his actions while at the same time understand why other characters would wish he never visit their town (Brayner et al. 71).

Literature Review

Hulk is a movie that is widely considered a failure from both artistic and financial perspectives. However, the film has much to offer, including good acting, good direction, and masterful editing. Lee, the director of the movie has managed to merge the drama and scale of a Greek tragedy with the pulp-story of the Hulk. The film looks like no other, making it more interesting and the best comic adaptations of the time. Lee brings together the comic book material and a collection of screenwriting and directorial intelligence that is unequaled since the time of Sam Hamm and Tim Burton. Lee and his collaborator James have an exciting and impressive track record. However, their primary challenge is that they seem to be pushing the story in various directions at the same time. In the process, the film appears to lose sight of the basic requirements, such as emotional impact, narrative momentum, and visual clarity (Szeto 45).

Rarely has a movie unified the American culture in a manner Lee’s Hulk did in 2003. Critics, comic book fans, and everyone in-between agreed that the film failed. Some media houses criticized the film, with The New York Times’ journalist, Scott, calling the movie “incredibly turgid, extremely long, and incredibly tedious” (Dilley 100). With its apparent disregard for the source material, dependence on digital effects and humorless tone, Hulk has managed to please no one.

Hulk took in $54.5 million, which is enough to place it at the top of the US box office and most likely to confirm that the problems were not about the film but the director. There is a familiar rhythm that is related to comic-book movies, from the moment that a hero embraces his potential to the time of confrontation with the enemy (Brayner et al. 12). Lee was not interested in going through the rhythm and ended up subverting the usual convention of the genre. Hulk does not feel or look like a superhero movie. However, that is what makes the film great.

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The film has an elegant visual strategy; after the failure of countless directors. Lee has figured out how a split screen technique can be made to perform. The director utilizes pictures within images and moving frame lines to suggest the comic story-telling technique. Some shots are astonishing as background and foreground interact and reveal one another. The director has transformed the comic book story to suit his purposes (Bateman and Veloso 137).


Hulk is a tortured soul, forced to fight and shunned by the world because the world will not tolerate his existence. Lee has managed to convey the various levels of conflicts through getting into the motion capture suits himself and ensures that Hulk on the screen can convey the exact physical movement as anticipated by the director. Despite the various demerits, Hulk remains one of the most interesting attempts to create a film out of a comic book. The various faults make the movie even more attractive. In this context, one can imagine a dark psychological drama, a science fiction story, and an intensive personal exploration of destiny, family and identity. Nonetheless, it is crucial to imagine all these elements wrapped up in an exciting classical style and bare-bones. Lee should be celebrated for the emotional complexity and intellectual depth revealed in the film.


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