Two of my favorite comic book characters have always been Hulk and Wolverine. There’s just something about them. Maybe it’s the brute strength of the Hulk, or the cunning and fearlessness of Wolverine. The Hulk is gigantic and huge, muscles upon muscles. Wolverine is short but swift, smart, and doesn’t back down. I remember one comic panel of X-Men where Wolverine put a cigar out on his tongue! (Tried that in high school one time with a cigarette…trust me, not a good idea). Maybe it was the brute strength of the Hulk that drew me to him. Maybe it was the awesomeness of the adamantium claws of Wolverine that could cut through anything. I was drawn to these characters and was fascinated with them.
And then, when Hulk and Wolverine would fight…boo-yah! Epic classic knock down drawn out fights of pure awesome would erupt. Perfect for any boy to glory in.
Of course, every boy grows up…for the most part I guess…and moves on. But there was still something about these characters that stuck with me. Why did I feel drawn to them, why did they mean something to me.
It wasn’t until I started studying some developmental psychology that I began to put the pieces together (what? Psychology and comic books? Really? Yes).
The Hulk is pure unadulterated anger. That is how he is created. The classic line from the 70’s TV show is “Don’t make me angry. You won’t like me when I’m angry.” In the original story and again in the TV series, when Bruce Banner would become angry, he would turn into the Hulk. The story of the Hulk truly is a monster born out of fear. The Hulk story was created during the Cold War, during a time of worry and fear about science. It is science that made the Hulk what he is today. And it is the fear of the unknown, the fear of what we can’t control that leads to the anger of the Hulk.
We try to hold in this anger, we really do, but it’s hard. And instead of dealing with it correctly, we try to suppress it, hold it back. And that ain’t good. You can’t suppress the Hulk.
And Wolverine? He’s an animal. In all the versions of Wolverine I’ve seen (Ultimate, the classic 90’s cartoon, the recent Angels and Demons and Second Coming story arcs) he knows he is an animal. But he sees himself as a killer. He sees himself as one worthy of scorn and pain and for others to be shun. He expects it. He has issues to say the least.
And then when Hulk and Wolverine fight it is a battle of epic proportions! Both have extremely high healing factors, both are vicious, both will do what it takes to stay alive.
Wolverine and the Hulk are the elements of our soul we don’t want to show others. We don’t want to show our Hulks or Wolverines to people, yet they boil there under the surface of the deep.
Paul talks about this struggle with the Hulk and Wolverine
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing. Romans 7:15-19
Hulk and Wolverine are just fictional characters reflecting what is deep in our psyche and in our souls. It is the struggle of the control of our lives. One thing the Hulk and Wolverine will never know is peace. And that, we are told we may have freely in abundance.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
There will always be that struggle against the Hulk and Wolverine but we don’t need to allow that struggle to overtake us in the process.