Dr. Bruce Banner, a Marvel comic book character, portrayed by several actors such as, Lou Ferrigno, Eric Bana, Edward Norton, and most recently, Mark Ruffalo, struggles with keeping his anger/rage under control and when becomes enraged turns into a 15 foot, over-steroidal, destructive green monster called The Hulk. In the most recent Marvel Studios movie, The Avengers, viewers are introduced to a rather calm Dr. Banner, who had not transformed into The Hulk in a couple of years, having kept his anger under control. However shortly after the team is fighting Loki (the god of mischief), the movie’s villain, on the Avenger’s base – the Helicarrier, Banner falls through the floor after a grenade blast, therefore, becoming enraged and ending his, what I like to call, “non-Hulk clean time”, shifting into the angry, green beast.
You could, in many ways, relate his “non-Hulk clean time” (a relapse of sorts) – when he gives into his anger, the Hulk syndrome could be compared to succumbing to one’s addiction/alcoholism. As I said above, Dr. Banner states that he has been Hulk-free for over a year and has no intention of going back, using meditation and other techniques to control his fury. He understands that when he turns into The Hulk everything becomes unmanageable for him; he destroys everything in his path. This is similar to alcoholics, such as myself, in the fact that I have to constantly work to control my urge to drink. Banner meditates to control his anger; I meditate to manage my thoughts about consuming alcohol. When I drink, I too like Banner get out of control. I go around destroying everything in my path that’s good in my life. My life too becomes unmanageable. I ruin relationships with family and friends, emotionally and sometimes physically hurting them, selfishly pushing them away. I become destructive and sabotage. I throw and break things, punch holes in walls, not caring that I’ve caused my family to shell out hundreds of dollars to replace and to fix all the damage I create. After wreaking havoc, The Hulk transforms back into his human alter-ego, Dr Banner, who comes to, oblivious as to what has transpired, unaware as to what he has done. You could relate this to a blackout that many alcoholics, and that I constantly experienced when I had too much to drink. Most mornings I woke up having no clue of what had happened the night before, trying to excavate shadowy memories out from my brain, only to find nothing. Not realizing what I had done, I got calls from friends describing how ridiculous I had been the night before. Banner, vows never to change into The Hulk again but breaks this promise, transforming multiple times because of certain circumstances. Every time I told myself I would never drink again or never drink that much alcohol to the point of blackout, I too wouldn’t follow through with my pledge.
In The Avengers, Dr. Bruce Banner declares to Captain America, in regards to changing into the angry Hulk, “Oh, well, that’s my secret, Captain. I’m always angry.” He is constantly battling his rage as am I with alcoholism. We both work hard to keep ourselves from giving in to our alter-egos, him The Hulk and me, an angry, destructive, selfish alcoholic.
By Matthew B