Film Crit Hulk Smash: HULK SMASHES THE PUNY PARADIGMS OF FILM CRITICISM WITH HULK-SIZED SEMIOTICAL ESSAYS ON STORYTELLING, CINEMATIC PRINCIPLES, AND MEDIA THEORY! HULK EVEN MAKE PRACTICAL HOW-TO GUIDES! See More...

A FEW CLARIFICATIONS ON HULK’S MAN OF STEEL ARTICLE

Hulk has something to say about something he said.

A FEW CLARIFICATIONS ON HULK’S MAN OF STEEL ARTICLE

CRITICISM IS FLUID.

THAT'S SOMETHING THAT HULK DOESN'T THINK ENOUGH PEOPLE REALIZE. SURE, HULK DOES HULK'S DAMNEDEST TO PUT FORTH A FULLY-ARTICULATED IDEA, BUT QUITE HONESTLY, AS BIG AND ALL-ENCOMPASSING AS THOSE COLUMNS CAN BE, THEY ARE STILL MORE LIKE A SINGLE MOMENTARY THOUGHTS. THE AIM IS SIMPLY TO CRYSTALLIZE THOSE THOUGHTS AND TRY TO ILLUMINATE THEIR PURPOSE IN A HELPFUL WAY THAT THEN CONNECTS TO YOU, THE READER. BUT FROM THE VERY SECOND AN ARTICLE IS RELEASED INTO THE ETHER IT CAN ALL CHANGE, FOR THE SINGULAR STATEMENT INSTANTLY BECOMES PART OF A LARGER DIALOGUE. BECAUSE OF THIS, EVERY TIME HULK RELEASES AN ARTICLE ALWAYS THERE'S SOME THINGS HULK WISHED THAT HULK ARTICULATED BETTER. OR THERE'S A CRUCIAL POINT THAT HULK MAY HAVE MISSED IN THE EXPLANATION. AND FOR EVERY ARGUMENT, THERE ARE ALWAYS SOME GOOD COUNTERPOINTS, SOME OF WHICH HULK WILL OFTEN FEEL LIKE HULK CAN ACCOUNT FOR... AND SOMETIMES IT'S TOTALLY WORTH IT TO BRING THEM UP.

IN THE CASE OF HULK'S RECENT ESSAY ON MAN OF STEEL: "THE IMPORTANCE OF DRAMATIZING CHARACTER," HULK FEELS LIKE WE NEED TO DO JUST THAT.

BUT FIRST HERE'S SOME HULK-TRANSPARENCY FIRST! A NUMBER OF PARAGRAPHS  WERE OMITTED FROM THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE. YES, BELIEVE IT OR NOT, HULK ACTUALLY CUTS DOWN THESE MONSTROSITIES. HULK MAY BE AS TANGENTIAL AS THEY COME, BUT HULK USUALLY CUTS THE "SUPER TANGENTS," WHICH OFTEN TAKE THE FORM OF EXTRANEOUS GOOD COUNTER-ARGUMENTS THAT A READER WOULD LIKELY HAVE (ESPECIALLY THE ARGUMENTS THAT ARE OFTEN BASED ON SOUND CONVENTIONAL WISDOM OF MOVIE-DOM). SOMETIMES THE SUPER-TANGENTS STAY, SOMETIMES THEY GO. BUT ON THIS PARTICULAR ESSAY HULK HAD A WHOLE BUNCH OF THEM IN THE FORM OF FOOTNOTES. THE THING IS THAT HULK TOOK THEM ALL OUT AT THE VERY LAST SECOND FOR PURE AESTHETIC REASONS (I.E. HULK DIDN'T WANT YOU TO READ ANYTHING AFTER THE EMOTIONAL, ENDING POINT ON THE IRON GIANT. FOR IT WOULD SEEM OVERKILL AND ANTI-CLIMACTIC). IT WAS TOTALLY THE RIGHT CHOICE, BUT OF COURSE ALL OF THE POINTS IN THE FOOTNOTES WERE THE FIRST THINGS PEOPLE BROUGHT UP IN THE COMMENTS (OFTEN TO DISCREDIT THE ENTIRE PREMISE), WHICH ALL JUST MEANS THAT HULK THINKS THESE POINTS ARE MOST DEFINITELY WORTH TALKING ABOUT.

SO LET'S GET CLARIFYING!

CLARIFICATION #1 - MOVIES DON'T "HAVE TO" BE LIKE ANYTHING IN THE ESSAY, HULK MADE A LOT OF ASSERTIONS ABOUT HOW GOOD STORIES HAVE TO DO THIS OR THAT, ETC. ETC. AND HULK ADMITS THAT THE WHOLE THING CAME OFF AS RATHER RIGID. IT SEEMED AS IF HULK BASED ALL UNDERSTANDING OF "GOOD" ON SOME OBVIOUS CENTRAL TENETS OF STORYTELLING 101 AND THAT WAS IT. WHICH ALL JUST MEANS THERE WAS SOMETHING THAT DID NOT MAKE CLEAR ENOUGH AT ALL: STORYTELLING HAS A TON OF DEXTERITY, DEPENDING ON YOUR AIM.  WHEN HULK WAS SAYING THAT GREAT STORIES ARE WHERE CHARACTER IS KING, OR WHERE CHARACTERS HAVE ARCS, OR WHERE CONFLICTS EXERT A CERTAIN WAY, OR WHERE THEIR CONFLICTS SPEAK TO INNER TURMOIL, HULK DID NOT EVER MEAN TO IMPLY THIS FUNCTION IS APPLIED TO ACROSS THE BOARD TO EVERY KIND OF MOVIE. AFTER ALL, SO MANY OF YOU CAME FORWARD WITH EXAMPLES OF GREAT STORIES THAT DID NOTHING LIKE THOSE ELEMENTS. BUT HULK'S POINT IN THE ARTICLE WAS THAT TRADITIONAL DRAMA CAN WORK LIKE GANGBUSTERS IF YOU USE THOSE VERY PRINCIPALS AND ARE AIMING FOR A CERTAIN, SPECIFIC KIND OF EMOTIONAL EFFECT ON THE AUDIENCE, WHICH:

1) MOST SUMMER POPCORN MOVIES ARE. AND

2) MAN OF STEEL MOST DEFINITELY WAS.

HULK WASN'T SAYING ALL MOVIES NEED TO BE A CERTAIN WAY TO WORK, HULK WAS SAYING MAN OF STEEL DID NOT WORK BECAUSE IT DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO PROPERLY EXECUTE WHAT IT WAS AIMING FOR. AND THE DIFFERENCE IS CRUCIAL.

HULK TALKED ABOUT THE EXACT PROBLEMS OF THE FILM BEFORE: THE CONSTANT SHORTCUTS. THE CONFUSED MOTIVATIONS. THE ILLUSION OF ARCS.  THE FAILURE TO STAY AWAY FROM INDULGENCE. WHILE MOVIES DON'T INHERENTLY NEED THESE THINGS, THEY STILL NEED TO UNDERSTAND HOW EXACTLY TO REPLACE THEM WITH OTHER CENTRAL, PURPOSEFUL STORY FUNCTIONS WHEN THEY CHOOSE TO IGNORE THOSE DEVICES. AND MAN OF STEEL DID NOT REPLACE THEM WITH ANYTHING OTHER THAN VAGUE TEXTURE, INDULGENT MOMENTS, AND A WHOLE BUNCH OF DIALOGUE THAT ONLY MADE IT SEEM LIKE THEY WERE ADDRESSING THE KEY CONFLICTS (WHEN THEY WEREN'T AT ALL). IT'S NOT SO MUCH THAT THINGS WERE SIMPLY "MISSING," IT WAS THAT THE FILM TRYING TO SKATE BY ON AN HALF-ASSED ATTEMPT AT THE VERY THINGS IT NEEDED TO BEST FUNCTION. MOVIES CAN TOTALLY HAVE OTHER INDEPENDENT AIMS THEY JUST NEED TO UNDERSTAND HOW TO BEST ACHIEVE THEM, WHAT EFFECT ACHIEVING IT WILL HAVE ON THE AUDIENCE, AND WHY THEY WANT TO ACHIEVE THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE.

BELIEVE IT OR NOT, WHAT HULK IS REALLY TALKING ABOUT HERE IS THE CORE OF CREATIVITY IN THE FACE OF FUNCTION.

STORIES ARE DEXTROUS THINGS. WE ALWAYS SAY IT: THERE ARE NO RULES. THERE ARE NO LIMITS. YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU WANT... BUT YOU JUST HAVE TO FIND THE WAY TO MAKE IT WORK. THAT'S THE TRADE-OFF. IF YOU WANT TO MAKE A FILM OF NOTHING BUT TWISTS? IF YOU WANT TO MAKE A FILM WHERE YOU MASH TWO WEIRD GENRES TOGETHER? IF YOU WANT TO MAKE A BLOCKBUSTER WITHOUT AN ARC FOR THE MAIN CHARACTER? FINE. GO FOR IT. BUT IT HAS TO BE BUILT AND APPROXIMATED AND FUNNELED IF WE UNDERSTAND HOW TO MAKE THE PIECES ALL FIT TOGETHER TO ACHIEVE THAT END DESIRED RESULT (AND IN THE END YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THE POSSIBLE NON-APPEAL OF SAID RESULT, BUT THAT'S A WHOLE OTHER THING). AND TO ACCOMPLISH THOSE ALTERNATIVE GOALS, YOU OFTEN HAVE TO TURN TO MICRO OR LESS-COMMON STORY DEVICES AND STILL USE THEM "CORRECTLY" SO THAT IT ALL ADDS UP TO AN END RESULT YOU WANT. AND THAT'S HOPEFULLY SOMETHING THAT CAN AT LEAST FEEL LIKE A CREATIVE, NEW, ORIGINAL, AND COMPELLING THING.

FOR EXAMPLE, QUENTIN TARANTINO GETS ALL THE KUDOS IN THE WORLD (IN SOME CIRCLES AT LEAST) FOR THE WAY THAT HE GOES AGAINST THE GRAIN OF TRADITIONAL STORYTELLING, BOTH IN TERMS OF STRUCTURE AND THE WAY HE WILL MASH TOGETHER SEEMINGLY DISPARATE STYLES AND TONES. BUT QT IS ACTUALLY A COMPLETE TESTAMENT TO WHAT HULK IS TALKING ABOUT HERE. FOR THERE IS PERHAPS NO MAN ON THE PLANET WHO IS MORE WELL-VERSED IN "MOMENTARY STORY FUNCTIONS" AND DRAMATIC MECHANISMS THAN HIM. AND HE CHERRY PICKS EACH MOMENT AND PIECES THEM TOGETHER IN A WAY THAT TURNS HIS CINEMA INTO THE SWELLEST LOOKIN' FRANKENSTEIN MONSTER YOUR EYES EVER DID SEE. A LONG DISCUSSION OF LIKE A VIRGIN? A 5 MINUTE MONOLOGUE ABOUT A WATCH? AN ENTIRE ANIME SEGUEWAY ABOUT A VILLAIN CHARACTER? THE HUGO STIGLITZ 70'S TITLE INTERLUDE? 2PAC MUSIC IN A WESTERN? HE ALWAYS SEEMS TO MAKE IT WORK BECAUSE HE UNDERSTANDS HOW TO CONTEXTUALIZE AND BRING THESE ELEMENTS INTO A LARGER OVERALL FUNCTION OF THESE FILMS. HE KNOWS THE PURPOSES THEY SERVE BEYOND OUR MERE MOMENTARY ENJOYMENT. WHEN YOU REALLY LOOK AT HIS WORK, YOU CAN JUST GO DOWN TO THE LIST OF STORY BEATS AND YOU REALIZE IT'S SECRETLY ALL GROUNDED IN THE SAME THINGS HULK TALKS ABOUT: ARCS. CHARACTERIZATION. ALLUSIONS TO CLASSIC STORIES. HE'S EVEN A MASTER AT 5 ACT STRUCTURE TO BOOT (HE BASICALLY JUST USES THE POST-SCRIPT SHAKESPEAREAN MODEL). THINK ABOUT THE CORE OF DJANGO AND THE ON-THE-NOSE HILDA FAIRY TALE HE USES SO PERFECTLY. HE'S TAKING THESE VERY TRADITIONAL STORY PIECES AND USING THEM TO HIS OWN PURPOSES AND CREATING SOMETHING COMPELLING, VIVID, AND ODDLY MODERN. THAT'S THE CORE OF CREATIVITY IN THE FACE OF FUNCTION.

ANOTHER EXAMPLE: YOU HEARD HULK TALK ABOUT THE DANGERS OF CONVOLUTION AND OBFUSCATION LIKE THEY ARE ALWAYS BAD THINGS, BUT REALLY IT'S JUST ABOUT THE KINDS OF PURPOSES YOU USE THEM FOR. IN POPCORN MOVIES THEY CAUSE SERIOUS OBSTACLES FOR AUDIENCE INVOLVEMENT AND ROOTING PURPOSES, BUT IN OTHER MOVIES THEY CAN FUNCTION GREAT. A GUY LIKE SHANE CARRUTH CONSTRUCTS THESE BRILLIANT, DENSE FILMS BUILT AROUND THE IDEA OF PUTTING A KIND OF DISTANCE BETWEEN YOU AND THE ACCESSIBILITY OF THE LITERAL UNDERSTANDING OF THE PLOT. BUT THAT'S THE EXACT POINT. HE'S ENGAGING YOU ON A MUCH MORE CEREBRAL, SYMBOLIC LEVEL AND CREATING AN INTELLECTUAL RELATIONSHIP WHERE YOU CAN FIND SOMETHING MEANINGFUL IN THE TRUE ART OF THE WORK. BUT AGAIN, THAT'S THE PURPOSE OF THOSE KINDS OF FILMS. HE'S AIMING FOR A VERY SPECIFIC, "NON-POPCORN MOVIE" AFFECTATION. AND IT'S ONE THAT STILL TOTALLY FALLS WITHIN THE SPECTRUM OF GREAT FILMMAKING. IT'S JUST A DIFFERENT AIM.

SO NO, HULK DOES NOT CONSIDER STORY "ENGINEERING" ISN'T SOME LITERAL PLUS OR MINUS THAT CAN ONLY BE DONE ONE PARTICULAR WAY. IT'S ABOUT ACHIEVING WHAT YOU WANT AND COMING UP WITH THE BEST WAY TO DO IT. WITH MAN OF STEEL, IT WASN'T THAT IT WASN'T DOING "WHAT ALL MOVIES SHOULD DO."

IT'S THAT IT COULDN'T DO WHAT IT WANTED TO DO.

AND THAT DIFFERENCE IS EVERYTHING.

CLARIFICATION #2 - OF COURSE CHARACTERS DON'T "NEED" ARCS

HERE IS THE EXACT FOOTNOTE HULK CUT OUT OF THE ARTICLE.

"NOW, BEFORE YOU GO ALL HUFFIN' AND PUFFIN', THERE ARE TOTALLY WAYS TO TELL A STORY WITHOUT A TRADITIONAL CHARACTER THAT COULD STILL MAKE CLARK'S CHARACTER RESONATE, BUT YOU WOULD HAVE TO CONSTRUCT THE FILM TO PROVE THAT HIS CONSISTENCY WAS INDEED THE POINT (ONE OF HULK'S FAVORITE MOVIES EVER, HAPPY GO LUCKY, DOES THIS PERFECTLY). IF CLARK WAS MEANT TO STAND AS THE BEACON OF GOODNESS AS THE ENTIRE WORLD GIVES HIM REASONS NOT TO DO IT, YOU NEED TO ENGINEER A STORY WHERE THAT IS ESSENTIALLY THE MAIN CONFLICT AND BRING IT TO THE FOREFRONT. BUT THE MOVIE ONLY FLIRTS WITH THOSE CONFLICTS AND AT TIMES SEEMS DIRECTLY AGAINST IT. THEY HAVE SUPERMAN SPEND MOST OF HIS THOUGHTS WALLOWING IN AN ARTIFICIAL "CONFLICT" OF WHETHER OR NOT HE SHOULD HELP, RATHER THAN SHOW ANY REAL COST TO HIS ACTIONS OF HELPING OR USING IT TO CONFLATE THE DRAMA (THAT'S WHERE THE INDULGENCE OF THE FILM REALLY HURTS THEM). COMPARE THAT TO HAPPY GO LUCKY WHERE THE CHARACTER IS CONSTANTLY WARNED AND PUNISHED FOR HER STAYING TRUE TO HERSELF, BEFORE THE FILM ULTIMATELY REVEALS THE SMALL, HUMAN AND HEROIC VIRTUES OF SUCH A DECISION.  MORE IMPORTANTLY, MAN OF STEEL FAILS TO REALIZE THAT ANY MOVIE THAT USES A NON-CHARACTER-ARC IS THEREFORE DEPENDENT IN A LOT OF WAYS TO THE ARC OF THE AUDIENCE. WE HAVE TO THINK THAT THE CHARACTER IS SOMEHOW WRONG AND WILL HAVE TO CHANGE TO FIT OUR PRECONCEPTION, BUT IT IS INSTEAD US WHO COME AROUND TO THEM... THIS MOVIE DOES NOT DO THAT. MORE IMPORTANTLY, IT CANNOT DO THAT BECAUSE WE INHERENTLY KNOW WHO SUPERMAN WILL BE."

IT'S NOT THAT THEY CAN'T CREATE A SUPERMAN FILM WITHOUT A CHARACTER ARC, IT'S THAT THEY NEED TO UNDERSTAND HOW YOU ACTUALLY MAKE A FILM THAT DOES THAT (HINT: IF YOU'RE GONNA WANT TO HAVE FUN UNDER ALL THAT, YOU GOTTA GO ALL IN ON TRYING TO HAVE FUN).

(AND HERE'S ANOTHER HINT: IT DOESN'T INVOLVE A BUNCH OF SHORTHAND AND HEAVY-HANDED SYMBOLISM AS A WAY OF PRETENDING THAT YOU HAVE A CHARACTER ARC. THAT DOESN'T WORK SO GOOD).

CLARIFICATION #3 - HOW SHORTHAND WORKS

TRUE, WE DON'T NEED TO SEE THE DRAMATIZE EVERYTHING IN A STORY TO UNDERSTAND IT, BUT HULK'S POINT IS THAT IT COULD HAVE BEEN MIGHTY HELPFUL A LOT OF TIMES IN THIS STORY (AND WITH ALL THE PIXAR EXAMPLES, IT WAS MEANT TO SHOW THE EFFECTIVENESS IT COULD HAVE HAD IN 1/4 THE TIME). BUT YES THERE ARE CERTAIN FILMS WHERE SHORTHAND WITH CHARACTERS WORKS AND THERE ARE CERTAIN ONES THAT DON'T. BUT LIKE HULK'S POINTS ABOVE, IT ALL DEPENDS ON WHAT KIND OF FILM YOU'RE MAKING AND WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE.

FOR INSTANCE, A MOVIE LIKE THE FRENCH CONNECTION IS JUST A STRAIGHT-UP PROCEDURAL OF TWO COPS MAKING THEIR WAY UP A DRUG RING TO GET THE TOP TARGET. IT MOVES LIKE A BULLET WITH ALL STRAIGHT-FORWARD, DENSE PLOTTING, AND THE CONSTANT UNVEILING OF NEW INFROMATION. AS FOR THE CHARACTERS? THEY ARE JUST TWO LIKEABLE, GRUFF GUYS. THEY FUCK AROUND. THEY DRINK. THEY HAVE ONE NIGHT STANDS, AND THEY HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO ARC. WAIT, ISN'T THAT PRECISELY THE KIND OF PURPOSELESS "TEXTURE" STUFF THAT HULK LAMENTED IN MAN OF STEEL? ACTUALLY, NO IT'S NOT, BUT THE POINT IS THAT IT DOESN'T MATTER ANYWAY. IN THE FRENCH CONNECTION A CHARACTER ARC IS NOT NECESSARY TO THE KIND OF STORY THEY'RE TELLING. THEY KEEP IT ALL FOCUSED ON THE PLOT. AND THAT'S BECAUSE ARC OF THAT MOVIE IS ACTUALLY IN THE RAPID EVOLUTION OF THE STORY ITSELF, THE DRAMA OF PLAYING THE CAT+MOUSE GAME, AND THAT STUFF DOESN'T LET UP FOR SECOND. IT'S LIKE THE RAID IN THAT WAY: "HERE'S WHO ALL THESE PEOPLE ARE, LET'S WATCH THEM GO RIGHT AT EACH OTHER IN NATURAL CONFLICTS!" AND BOY OH BOY DOES THE FRENCH CONNECTION JUST "GO." WHICH ALLOWS FOR OUR CHARACTERS TO BE LIKEABLE CONSTANTS IN A PLOT-HEAVY DRUG TALE FULL OF INTRIGUE. AND BETTER YET, IT KNOWS IT CAN MAKE REALLY INTERESTING AND PURPOSEFUL STATEMENTS THROUGH THE RESULTS OF ITS EVENTS AND DOES NOT HAVE TO GROUND THEM IN CHARACTER ALONE. THE MOVIE KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT IT IS, WHAT IT WANTS, AND HOW TO ACHIEVE IT.

EVEN IF HULK IS ALL ABOUT DRAMA, THESE KINDS OF MOVIES STILL CONSTITUTE SOME OF HULK'S FAVORITES. TAKE A MOVIE LIKE CONTAGION, WHERE WE HAVE ALL THESE CHARACTERS ACROSS THE GLOBE WORKING TO SOLVE THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF PROBLEMS THEY FACE AT THE HANDS OF THE VIRUS: DEATH, SOCIETY CHANGE, MEDICAL NEEDS, THE DESIRE TO CURE. ALL THE WHILE WE JUST GET THESE LITTLE GLIMPSES INTO THEIR LIVES, ENTIRE HISTORIES AND NEEDS AND WANTS THAT ARE JUST HINTED AT. BUT THE FILM DOESN'T NEED THEM TO HAVE ARCS OR GRAND STORIES, BECAUSE 1) IT'S NOT TRYING TO WRING ANYTHING OUT OF THESE GIANT CHARACTER ARCS LIKE MAN OF STEEL DOES. AND 2) THE THING THAT IS ACTUALLY THE MAIN, EVOLVING CHARACTER IS THE VIRUS ITSELF. THAT'S THE CRUCIAL DIFFERENCE AND IF YOU LOOK AT IT YOU'LL SEE THAT THE VIRUS HAS A SUPER TRADITIONAL ARC.

EVEN LOOK AT NOLAN'S OTHER WORK. THE DARK KNIGHT DOES THE PUZZLE THING, BUT IT GROUNDS IT IN A CHAOTIC CHARACTER. BATMAN HAS NO ARC AND STAYS TRUE TO HIMSELF, BUT THE ENTIRE THING IS A BIG PLAY FOR THE SOUL OF GOTHAM (MADE LITERAL BY HARVEY DENT). THE ARC OF THE MORALITY IS COMPLETELY THERE. AND UNLIKE MAN OF STEEL, THEY FIGURE THE WAYS TO NOT JUST HAVE THE CHARACTERS SAY "This is what I stand for!" BUT GET THEM TO REPRESENT THOSE IDEAS ON THE DRAMATIC LEVEL. IT'S BRILLIANT.

BUT THE CONCEPT CAN GO EVEN FURTHER FOR THE MORE ARTISTICALLY-INCLINED. RICHARD BRODY JUST HAD A GREAT PIECE OF L'AVENTURA, WHEREIN HE TALKED ABOUT THE "the format of theatrical naturalism—the depiction of characters’ deeds and speech that reveals their inward, psychological grasp of the exterior net of drama" WHICH IS JUST A WAY OF SAYING SOMETIMES THE FASCINATING THING ABOUT A CHARACTER CAN BE THE WAY THEY DON'T RESPOND TO THINGS, OR DON'T CHANGE, OR WHATEVER MIGHT BE HINTED AT BENEATH THE SURFACE. IT'S LIKE THE AIMS OF CARRUTH'S DENSITY ONLY LAYERED MORE IN THE WAY CHARACTER'S HIDE THEIR INTENT. BUT AGAIN, THESE ARE NOT THE KINDS OF FILMS WHICH WANT TO MAKE YOU FEAR FOR A CHARACTER'S SAFETY AND HOPE FOR THEIR RESCUE AS BUILDING RUBBLE IS PILED ON TOP OF THEM... NO, NOT IN THE SLIGHTEST.

IT'S ALWAYS: "WHAT ARE YOU AIMING FOR?"

THAT'S ALWAYS THE QUESTION, FOR YOUR ABILITY TO CONNECT THE FILM IS DIRECTLY LINKED TO THAT AIM. AND MAN OF STEEL RUNS INTO TROUBLE BY HAVING TWO DISTINCTLY DIFFERENT AIMS. IT WANTS TO MEANINGFUL CHARACTER PIECE ON THE SURFACE, AND SECRETLY WANTS TO BE AN INDULGENT ROMP UNDERNEATH IT. THE TROUBLE IS IT HAS NO IDEA HOW TO BE EITHER OF THOSE, NEVERMIND MARRY THEM.

CLARIFICATION #4 - THIS DOESN'T REALLY HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH BOX OFFICE.

PEOPLE LOVED TO SHOUT "But it did well at the box office!" AS IF THAT VALIDATES A FILM'S QUALITY. BUT THAT IS JUST NOT VALID. HERE'S HULK'S ORIGINAL FOOTNOTE:

"FIRST OFF, LET'S ESTABLISH THAT THIS CONVERSATION SHOULD HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH HOW MUCH MONEY THE FILM HAS MADE, FOR OPENING WEEKEND DOES NOT HAVE ANY BEARING ON ITS RELATIVE GOODNESS. MAN OF STEEL MADE LOTS AND LOTS OF MONEY BECAUSE IT WAS MARKETED REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY WELL. LIKE ASTOUNDINGLY WELL. BUT BOX OFFICE DOESN'T BEGIN TO TELL US HOW PEOPLE REALLY FELT ABOUT THE MOVIE UNTIL THE LONG PLAY NUMBERS COME IN AND WEEKS AND WEEKS OF WORD OF MOUTH SETS IN (HINT: THE 64% WEEKEND DROP IS NOT PROMISING, BUT WE'LL STILL SEE). THAT'S WHEN ALL THE INTANGIBLE WAYS A MOVIE FUNCTIONS OR DOES NOT FUNCTION REALLY KICK IN. EVEN THEN, THERE ARE SO MANY OTHER THINGS THAT STUDIO ACCOUNTANTS THEN HAVE TO INCORPORATE INTO THE FINALE DEDUCTIONS THAT MOST BOX OFFICE ANALYSTS DON'T EVEN CONSIDER. QUITE HONESTLY, WE WON'T KNOW WHAT MAN OF STEEL HAS IN STORE FOR OUR LARGER CULTURAL IMPACT UNTIL EVEN MORE YEARS HAVE PASSED."

TO EXPAND: IF WE WANT TO PAY ATTENTION TO BOX OFFICE, YOU CAN'T JUST LOOK AT THE END RESULT. THESE THINGS ARE ENORMOUSLY COMPLICATED AND THEY ARE GETTING EVEN MORE SO... OH, WHAT THE FUDGE. LET'S TALK ABOUT IT A BIT!

MOVIES USED TO HAVE TO BE GOOD IN ORDER TO MAKE MONEY.

REALLY. BACK IN THE DAY, EVERYTHING WAS BASED ON THE LONG PLAY, WHICH MEANS MOVIES WOULD HAVE TO STAY IN THEATERS FOR A LONG TIME AND IT WAS ALL ABOUT WORD-OF-MOUTH AND GETTING NEW PEOPLE TO SHOW UP TO THE ONLY PLACE YOU COULD SEE MOVIES: THEATERS. TO BOOT,  THESE THEATERS WERE MOSTLY INDEPENDENT SO DEALS WERE PARSED OUT OVER TIME. THUS, THE WHOLE THING HAD A TENDENCY TO MOVE PRETTY SLOW. IN TERMS OF PURE BUSINESS, IT WAS PROBLEMATIC, BUT IT HAD THIS NEAT LITTLE WRINKLE WHERE MOVIES ABSOLUTELY DEPENDED ON THEIR "RELATIVE GOODNESS" TO BE FINANCIALLY SUCCESSFUL. PEOPLE HAD TO TELL OTHERS AND CREATE DEMAND AND THEY HAD GO BACK AND SEE FILMS AGAIN. AND ALL THIS HAPPENED ON A BIG TIMELINE (GO ALL THE WAY BACK AND THINK ABOUT THE PERCENTAGE OF THE U.S. POPULATION THAT SAW GONE WITH THE WIND AND LET YOUR JAW DROP).

BUT THE RISE OF BLOCKBUSTERS EVENTUALLY LED THE-MONEY-PEOPLE TO REALIZING SOMETHING IMPORTANT: IF THEY, AS THE FINANCIAL RISKERS, HAD NO REAL IDEA WHAT MADE A MOVIE "GOOD" THEY COULD THEREFORE HEDGE THEIR BETS AND REMOVE THE RISK / VARIABLES OF "THE LONG PLAY" AND JUST GO FOR AN UPFRONT CASH-GRAB THROUGH HEAVY MARKETING AND RELATIVE FAIL-SAFES. AND WE'VE GOTTEN REALLY GOOD AT IT. HECK, WE SELL MOVIES TO TV BEFORE THE FIRST PUBLIC THEATER EVEN SEES IT. WHICH ALL JUST MEANS IF YOU MARKET A MOVIE WELL, THEN A BAD MOVIE CAN STILL MAKE MONEY. NOT THE OPTIMUM AMOUNT OF MONEY, BUT A LOT OF MONEY. OR AT LEAST ENOUGH TO JUSTIFY CONTINUED JOBS FOR THE FINANCIAL AUTHORITIES. AND THE BOARDS IN CHARGE OF THESE CORPORATIONS (WE'RE TALKING THE LEVEL ABOVE EXECS HERE) ARE THE FINANCIAL AUTHORITIES. THUS, IF THEY MAKE MAKE SAFE, JUSTIFIABLE CHOICES THEN THEY CANNOT TRULY "FAIL" IN THE SENSE THAT WE THINK OF FAILURES... SO, YEAH, THAT'S THE LOOSE TWO PARAGRAPH VERSION OF HOW WE GOT THIS SYSTEM.

BUT DESPITE ALL OUR EFFORTS TO ERASE IT FROM MATTERING, DOESN'T A MOVIE'S QUALITY STILL MATTER? OF COURSE IT DOES. IT JUST BECOMES HARDER TO FIND THE INFLUENCE OF WHAT PEOPLE ACTUALLY LIKE IN BOX OFFICE REPORTING.

FOR INSTANCE: DID YOU KNOW THAT STUDIOS HAVE FORMULA, WHERE THE MOMENT THE FRIDAY NIGHT RECEIPTS COME IN THEY CAN TELL YOU HOW MUCH MONEY THAT MOVIE WILL MAKE?

NOT HOW MUCH IT WILL MAKE AT THE BOX OFFICE. BUT HOW MUCH IT WILL MAKE AFTER ALL THE SYNDICATION, HOME VIDEO SALES, TV DEALS, ALTERNATIVE STREAMS, ETC. AT THE 1 YEAR, 3 YEAR, 5 YEAR, AND 10 YEAR INTERVALS? THEY ARE ESSENTIALLY MEASURING PROJECTED TOTAL REVENUE FOR THE ENTIRE PROPERTY JUST BASED ON WHAT YOU DO WITH YOUR FRIDAY NIGHT. NOW, SOME OF THIS IS BASED ON THEIR ABILITY TO TELL OTHER BUSINESS "IT'S A HIT! PEOPLE LOVE IT!" BUT REALLY THEY DO THIS BECAUSE THAT'S HOW PREDICTABLE THEY THINK WE'VE BECOME IN OUR ABILITY TO PICK WHAT WE WILL LIKE, BUY, AND SUPPORT CONTINUOUSLY JUST BASED ON OUR INITIAL RESPONSE FROM MARKETING ALONE... IS THAT KIND OF REMARKABLE? AND WITH CERTAIN KINDS OF (OFTEN BAD) MOVIES, THEY ARE DISTURBINGLY ACCURATE.

BUT OF COURSE THAT SAME NUMBER THAT COMES FROM THE FORMULA CHANGES OVER THE COURSE OF THE WEEKEND. AND THEN THAT NUMBER CHANGES OVER THE COURSE OF THE WEEK. THEN IT STARTS CHANGING AGAIN WHEN THE FIGURES KEEP ROLLING IT FROM OTHER STREAMS. AND WHAT IS ACTUALLY BEING CHANGED HERE IS PEOPLE AUGMENTING WHAT THEY WANT BASED ON AN ACTUAL REACTION TO THE QUALITY OF THE MOVIE. LUCKILY, A BUNCH OF YEARS AGO A YOUNG SPARKPLUG CAME UP WITH THE BRILLIANT IDEA OF ACTUALLY PAYING ATTENTION TO HOW THAT NUMBER CHANGES AND ACCOUNTING FOR IT. AND PART OF THAT MEANT LEARNING HOW TO DISCOUNT THE EFFECTS OF WEATHER, REGIONALITY, ADVERTISING, THEATER COUNT, AND THE OTHER WAYS THOSE ELEMENTS FACTOR INTO PEOPLE'S BUYING HABITS AND ACTUALLY ISOLATING THE REMAINING CHANGE. THE RESULT? A WAY OF ACTUALLY MEASURING THE INFLUENCE OF QUALITY... BUT FIRST, TWO THINGS TO CONSIDER:

1) THOSE NUMBERS ARE ANYTHING BUT PUBLIC

2) THE STUDIO STILL DOESN'T CARE HOW IT GETS THE DOLLAR AS LONG AS IT GETS IT.

EVEN IF QUALITY AND INNOVATION COULD BE THE WAY TO ENSURE HITS THAT TRANSFORM THE BUSINESS, THE QUALITY IS JUST A SLIVER OF WORRY IN THEIR EYES NEXT TO THAT INITIAL DRAW. THAT'S WHY OVER-ADVERTISING AN APPEALING BOMB IS "SAFER" THEN SUPPORTING A ORIGINAL, BUT "DANGEROUS" GOOD MOVIE. THAT'S ALSO WHY THEIR CAREERS DON'T DEPEND ON THE ABILITY TO GET THOSE EXTRA FEW BUCKS OUT OF MAKING A GREAT MOVIE. AND THAT'S THE REASON STUDIOS HAVE NEVER TRULY FIGURED HOW TRANSLATE THE EFFECT OF QUALITY INTO THE KINDS OF MOVIES THEY CHOOSE. THAT'S WHY THERE ARE ONLY THE MOVIES THAT ARE THE MOST ACCESSIBLE, NOT THE MOST DESIRABLE.

SO PLEASE. GIVEN ALL THESE THINGS. LET US NEVER USE BOX OFFICE AS THE BENCHMARK OF QUALITY (WITHOUT REALLY UNDERSTANDING THE NITTY-GRITTY).

CLARIFICATION #5 - REACTING TO A GOOD POINT RAISED ON LOIS!

ONE OF HULK'S FOLLOWERS, Diana B @LadyD224, RAISED A REALLY GOOD POINT ON HOW HULK TOOK MAN OF STEEL'S TREATMENT OF LOIS TO TASK. HERE'S WHAT SHE WROTE (modified just to clean up grammar from multiple-truncated tweeting limitations!)

[... I want to make clear that the movie was flawed, but regarding Lois, I liked her characterization in comics/Animated series, but I've hated the movie incarnations. It was a combination of actresses' performances coupled with the fact that Lois is always the prize that he pines for from afar. She is the object of his affections ("object") and this reduces her as well as him (this Christ-like figure of supreme power) into a spazzy annoying moron. But MoS does what comics did: lets her in on his ID, thereby morphing the object into an ally. I agree that kiss is unearned… but I loved that fundamental change of her knowing, because it improves her & keeps him from acting the buffoon.]

IT'S ACTUALLY A PRETTY GOOD POINT!

AND WHILE HULK CERTAINLY HAS A BIT MORE AFFECTION FOR THE SILLY CHARMS AND BUFFOONERY OF DONNER'S CLARK & LOIS DYNAMIC (AS WELL AS AN ARGUMENT FOR HOW THAT DYNAMIC ALLOWS FOR A LOISE WITH HER OWN INTERESTS / AGENCY /POWER), HULK HAS TO AGREE THAT LADYD224'S ARGUMENT IS ENTIRELY VALID.

THE PROBLEM IS JUST THAT MAN OF STEEL DOES THE WRONG THING WITH THAT GOOD INSTINCT AND JUST ENDS UP CREATING ANOTHER JUST-AS-BAD PROBLEM. SURE, WE GET A MOVIE WHERE THIS SMART WOMAN IS NO LONGER THE PRIZE TO BE WON, BUT IT STILL ESSENTIALLY TURNS SUPERMAN INTO THE PRIZE AND THEN LEAVES HER WITH NO REAL IDENTITY / PURPOSE / STORY / INTERESTS OF HER OWN. IN THE END, SHE'S SCOTCH TAPED TO CLARK'S MOVIE. HULK SUPPOSES THIS WASN'T INTENTIONAL AND PURELY SYMPTOMATIC OF THE INSTINCT TO FOCUS EVERYTHING ON SUPES, BUT IT REALLY DOES HURT THE OBJECTIVE "POWER" OF LOIS' INFLUENCE AND REALLY UNDERMINES WHO SHE IS SUPPOSED TO BE.

SHE MAY BE AN ALLY, BUT SHE'S STILL ONE THAT DOESN'T ACTUALLY MATTER TO, OR EVEN EFFECT THE NARRATIVE.

CLARIFICATION #6 - OF COURSE STORIES AREN'T PERFECTLY PRECISE!

IN THE ESSAY, HULK USED THE PHRASE "ENGINEERING" (SPECIFICALLY REGARDING AUTOMOBILES) TO TRY AND MAKE THE MOST CLEAR METAPHOR POSSIBLE FOR TELLING SOUND STORIES. BUT HULK REALIZED THAT THIS METAPHOR MAKES IT SOUND LIKE STORIES ARE THESE OBVIOUS, EASY-TO-CONSTRUCT, OVERTLY-MECHANICAL THINGS AND HULK MOST DEFINITELY DID NOT MEAN TO DO THAT. STORIES ARE ORGANIC. THEY ARE HUMAN. THEY ARE PERSONAL. THEY FLAWED. AND THEY ARE OFTEN CREATED (AND NEED TO BE CREATED) IN RADICALLY DIFFERENT WAYS OF EXPRESSION THAN THE WAY WE THINK OF ENGINEERING.

BUT HERE'S WHY THE METAPHOR IS SECRETLY NOT SO TERRIBLE: THE TRUTH OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING IS THAT THERE'S NO REAL SUCH THING AS PERFECTLY-FUNCTIONING DEVICE EITHER. IN ENGINEERING, WE START WITH A SCIENTIFIC RULE BASED ON OUR CURRENT LEVEL OF UNDERSTANDING AND THEN WE DO OUR BEST TO APPLY THEM IN A WAY THAT ALLOWS THE PRODUCT TO "FUNCTION." IT'S INHERENTLY IMPRECISE BECAUSE OF SO MANY REAL WORLD FACTORS AND OBSTACLES (AFTER ALL, THERE IS NO PERFECT, PRACTICAL CONDUCTOR IN A REAL WORLD SETTING, JUST LIKE THERE IS NO PERFECTLY-ENGINEERED CAR). BUT WE ALWAYS FORGET THAT FACT IN THE COMPARISON OF "RIGHT BRAIN" ENTERPRISES LIKE ART AND STORY TO THE "LEFT BRAIN" ENTERPRISES OF SCIENTIFIC APPLICATION. SURE, THERE ARE OBVIOUS DIFFERENCES IN THE AMOUNT OF PRECISE-NESS THAT IS REQUIRED, BUT IN THE BROADER SENSE THE METHOD OF APPLICATION CAN BE SIMILAR. LIKE ANY NEWTONIAN CONTRAPTION, YOU HAVE TO PUT IT TOGETHER IN THE MOST OPTIMAL WAY POSSIBLE BASED ON YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE FUNCTION, ONLY IN THIS CASE IT'S THE FUNCTION OF STORY, IMAGE, AND ART COMBINING TO AN EFFECTIVE PURPOSE OF FEELING (WHICH HULK ALREADY TALKED ABOUT IN CLARIFICATION #1 SO HULK WON'T RETREAD). IT'S JUST WITH STORY THERE'S A HECK OF A LOT OF DEXTERITY AND MORE INTERPRETATION INVOLVED. BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN THAT THE "FUNCTION" IS NOT THERE... WOW, THAT SOUNDS COMPLICATED AND HULK DID NOT MEAN IT TO BE.

PERHAPS THERE IS A MORE HELPFUL METAPHOR... REALLY, WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT HERE IS STORY "DESIGN."

IN ENGINEERING, WE HAVE THESE PRODUCTS THAT FUNCTION AND SERVE A PURPOSE AND THEN WE DO OUR BEST TO STREAMLINE THEM INTO SOMETHING EVEN MORE FUNCTIONAL AND PURPOSEFUL, WHILE ALSO BEING ALLURING AND ATTRACTIVE, RIGHT? THE THING IS POPCORN MOVIES CAN WEIRDLY WORK IN THE SAME KIND OF WAY. A MOVIE LIKE WHITE HOUSE DOWN "FUNCTIONS" BETTER STORY-WISE THAN SO MANY OTHER SUMMER OFFERINGS (WE KNOW WHAT PEOPLE WANT, IT STRIVES TO MAKE US LIKE CHARACTERS, WE SEE THEIR DRAMATIZATION, IT HOLDS ONTO REVEALS TO MAXIMIZE DRAMA IN THE RIGHT WAY, ETC), BUT IT IS SO LACKING IN TACT (AKA POOR DESIGN) THAT IT'S HARD TO LIKE AS MUCH AND EMOTE WITH. THE MOVIE IS SOCLUNKY. ON THE NOSE. OBVIOUS. IT IS ESSENTIALLY "UNATTRACTIVE." BUT ON THE FLIP-SIDE, WE'VE HAD LOT OF OTHER OFFERINGS THAT ARE SLEEK AND SOPHISTICATED, BUT THEY COME WITH SECRETLY ATROCIOUS STORY FUNCTION. THE PROBLEM WITH COMPARING MOVIES TO PRODUCT DESIGN IS THAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT A STORY PRODUCT BASED ON A LOT OF INTANGIBLES AND WE ALL HAVE WAYS WE REACT TO THINGS DIFFERENTLY. FOR INSTANCE, HULK'S ADMITTEDLY MORE SENSITIVE TO STORY FUNCTION THAN THE AVERAGE MOVIEGOER WHO MIGHT BE MORE WILLING TO MEET A MOVIE HALF-WAY. AND HULK CAN KEEP ARGUING FOR THE SUBCONSCIOUS WAYS STORY FUNCTION AFFECTS VIEWERS, BUT IT REALLY IS A HARD THING TO CONVEY. MORE IMPORTANTLY, FIGHTING OVER THAT NUANCE IS MISSING THE OBVIOUS REALITY:

WE ARE LOOKING FOR OPTIMAL MOVIES WITH BOTH TACT AND FUNCTION. BECAUSE THOSE ARE THE ONES THAT TEND TO HIT THE ZEITGEIST AND / OR BECOME CLASSICS FOR YEARS TO COME. AND TO THE BOX OFFICE / BUSINESS MINDED OF YOU, THOSE ARE THE CASH COWS THAT CAN GO FOR YEARS BEYOND THE INITIAL THEATER RUN. THEY'RE MOVIES THAT INHERENTLY CREATE THE LONG PLAY FOR THEMSELVES.

AND PLEASE NOTICE HOW PIXAR'S WORK OFTEN DISPLAYS BOTH TACT AND FUNCTION smile

CLARIFICATION #7 - HOW HULK BELIED THE NATURE OF EXPERTISE

A NUMBER OF YOU HAD ISSUES WITH HULK'S INTRO #4 AND THE WAY IT RELATED TO THE REST OF THE ARTICLE. LOOKING BACK, HULK TOTALLY GETS HOW IT CAN BE READ AS "OH HULK KNOWS WHAT HULK IS TALKING ABOUT AND YOU DON'T KNOW BECAUSE YOU CAN'T SEE IT." THAT WAS NOT THE INTENTION AT ALL AND RIGHT NOW HULK HOPES TO TRY AND CONVEY THE POINT OF INCLUDING IT... IT'S JUST A DIFFICULT THING TO TALK ABOUT IT, SO BEAR WITH HULK HERE.

BEING AUTHORITATIVE IS NEVER, EVER HULK'S INTENT.

THE GOAL IS ALWAYS TO COMMUNICATE WHAT HULK BELIEVES IS A VALID IDEA THAT IS HOPEFULLY OF IMMENSE USE TO YOU. HULK ACTUALLY TRIES TO RADIATE THAT SENTIMENT. IT'S JUST IN THIS PARTICULAR ARTICLE WE WERE DEALING WITH A PERFECT STORM OF FACTORS THAT MADE THE OPPOSITE SEEM TRUE. WE HAD: AN INTENSELY POLARIZING MOVIE, A EXISTING DIALOGUE ABOUT MISINTERPRETING SUBJECTIVITY, A MOVIE THAT WAS OPERATING PRIMARILY WITH SUBCONSCIOUS INDULGENCE, AND A PRETEXT THAT REQUIRED A DISCUSSION ABOUT THE NATURE OF EXPERIENCE. PUT THAT ALL TOGETHER AND IT CAN HELP BUT SEEM LIKE AN "AUTHORITATIVE" DEDUCTION WITH AN ACCUSATORY BENT. IN TRUTH, HULK WAS JUST TRYING TO GET TO THE HEART OF WHY SO MANY PEOPLE SEEMED DIVIDED AND IT THEN LED HULK TO A PLACE THAT FELT LIKE A REALLY UGLY TRUTH. AND THE THING ABOUT UGLY TRUTHS IS THAT HULK DID NOT WANT TO HAVE THAT CONVERSATION. HULK KNOWS THAT BEING DIPLOMATIC AND KIND IS THE SUREFIRE WAY TO CONNECT TO PEOPLE BETTER, BUT WHAT HAPPENS IN THE RARE CASE WHERE IT HAPPENS AND YOU STILL FEEL IN YOUR GUT LIKE YOU HAVE TO TELL TRUTH? WHERE YOU HAVE TO LOOK OUT AT THE PEOPLE YOU VALUE AND RESPECT AND VIEW AS EQUALS AND SAY "HULK ISN'T CRAZY ABOUT HOW THIS HAPPENED." ALL YOU CAN ESSENTIALLY DO IS MAKE YOUR CASE, TRY YOUR BEST TO BE REASONABLE & RESPECTFUL, AND HOPE THAT YOU CONNECT.

BUT ULTIMATELY, HULK HOPES WAS UNDERSTOOD OUR DISCUSSION WAS LESS ABOUT PINNING DOWN MAN OF STEEL FOR WHAT IT WAS AND MORE ABOUT IDENTIFYING THE FUNCTION OF THINGS LIKE STORY ARCS AND CHARACTERIZATION (AND WHY THEY CAN BE SO DAMN IMPORTANT). AS PART OF THAT, THE REASON HULK BROUGHT UP HULK'S WHOLE EXPERIENCE WITH STORY DIAGNOSIS WAS NOT PART OF THE DESIRE TO BE AUTHORITATIVE (AND HULK BEGGED FOR IT NOT TO BE TAKEN THAT WAY IN THE ARTICLE), BUT TO HOPEFULLY TO IMPLY THAT THESE IDEAS COME FROM SOMETHING CONCRETE, TANGIBLE, AND BASED ON REAL EXPERIENCE. FROM THERE, IT IS THE DESIRE TO IMPART SOMETHING USEFUL. A LOT OF THAT STEMS FROM THE FACT THAT HULK FREQUENTLY ENCOUNTERS SOMETHING HULK LIKES TO CALL THE "THE TIMELINE OF PERSPECTIVE" AND THAT JUST MEANS THAT HULK OFTEN SEES PEOPLE BRANDYING ABOUT IDEAS INVOLVING STORYTELLING THAT WERE THE SAME IDEAS HULK HAD BEFORE HULK ACTUALLY STARTED DOING ALL THIS FOR REAL. AND IN THE SAID EXPERIENCE, HULK HAS GOTTEN TO LEARN STORY IDEAS OF IMMENSE VALUE AND NOW HULK WANTS TO TURN AROUND AND GIVE THOSE SAME THINGS TO YOU. AND HULK KNOWS IT'S NOT EASY TO DO. HULK LEARNED A LOT OF THESE LESSONS THE HARD WAY THROUGH REAL GROWING PAINS AND FAILURES. BUT HULK GOT THERE BY ERASING SELF. BY NOT DIGGING IN HULK'S HEALS. BY LETTING GO. BY LISTENING TO THE SMARTEST PEOPLE HULK KNOWS AND BEING READY TO GROW.

THAT IS WHY HULK WILL ALWAYS WANT TO CHANGE.

AND THAT IS WHY CRITICISM IS FLUID.

SO WITH THE WHOLE FIRST PART OF THE ESSAY HULK WASN'T TRYING TO IMPART TO YOU THE PURE AND TRUE WISDOM OF OBJECTIVE STORY ANALYSIS, HULK WAS TRYING TO ADVOCATE A REVERSAL OF THINKING. THERE MAY NOT BE "AN ABSOLUTE TRUTH," BUT ENGAGING IN THE IDEA THAT THERE MIGHT BE HAS AN ABSOLUTE PURPOSE. HULK MEAN, OF COURSE OBJECTIVE-MOVIE-WATCHING DOESN'T EXIST. BUT IT DOESN'T MEAN THAT IT ISN'T USEFUL TO YOU TO KEEP STRIVING FOR IT. THAT DOESN'T MEAN IT'S NOT SUPER USEFUL TO TRY AND IDENTIFY THE WAYS MOVIES WORK ON US IN GOOD AND BAD WAYS AND THEN LOOK FOR THE WAYS THEY CREATE DIVISIONS AMONG US. THAT DOESN'T MEAN WE CAN'T TRY TO GET OUTSIDE OURSELVES AND WHAT WE ALREADY FEEL WE "KNOW" AND DO OUR BEST TO CONNECT TO OTHER PEOPLE.

BECAUSE THE MOMENT WE START SETTLING FOR THE VALIDITY OF OUR PERSONAL OPINIONS (IN THE NAME OF EQUALITY OR WHATEVER), THAT'S THE MOMENT WE SETTLE FOR AN INTELLECTUAL DEATH.

THE PROBLEM IS THAT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OPINION OF DRUTHERS AND THE EDUCATION ASSESSMENT OF FUNCTION IS A REALLY, REALLY HARD THING TO CONVEY TO PEOPLE, LET ALONE UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE IN YOURSELF. AND TO NAVIGATE THE FIELD OF CRITICISM REQUIRES A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF SELF-AWARENESS AND THE ABILITY TO BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF ABOUT WHAT IS WORKING ON YOU, WHY, AND WHEN. AND THEN IT REQUIRES YOU IMPART THAT CLARITY ONTO THE READER. SO WHEN HULK IS ANALYZING SOMETHING LIKE PURE STORY FUNCTION, HULK TRIES TO PUT ON THE PROVERBIAL OBJECTIVE HAT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. BUT WHEN IT COMES TO FAVORITISM? ELATION? BEST OF LISTS? ATTEMPTS OF HUGE SUPPORT? HULK DOESN'T EVEN TRY TO MAKE IT OBJECTIVE AND HULK TRIES TO MAKES THE DRUTHERS OF HULK'S EXPERIENCE. AND HULK TRIES TO MAKE WHICH IS WHICH INCREDIBLY CLEAR. AFTER ALL,  WHEN IT COMES TO GOOD MOVIES THEY TEND TO BE ALL EQUALLY FUNCTIONAL, SO YOU HAVE TO TURN THE PERSONAL REASONS AS TO WHY THEY TRULY CONNECT TO YOU OVER SOMETHING ELSE THAT ALSO FUNCTIONS.

SEE THE DIFFERENCE?

HULK TALKED ABOUT THE FAULT OF THE STORYTELLING AND SAID MAN OF STEEL WAS "BAD" IN THE WAYS IT FAILED TO DO WHAT IT AIMED TO DO, BUT THEN HULK CONTEXTUALIZES THE WAY IT STRUCK HULK AS ERRONEOUS IN HUMAN WAYS OR MEANINGFUL, PERSONAL WAYS WITH THE CHARACTER. THERE'S A STRICT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE OPERATION OF THOSE TWO ELEMENTS AND WE NEED TO BE AWARE OF THEM.

AND SELF-HONESTY IS THE KEY TO BEING ABLE TO USE BOTH. YOU HAVE TO ASK: WHY DID HULK ENJOY THAT MOMENT? WHAT DID IT SPEAK TO INSIDE OF US? WHAT DID IT SPEAK TO IN TERMS OF THE CHARACTER? WHAT DID IT HAVE TO DO WITH THE OTHER THINGS THE MOVIE IS SAYING? ARE THOSE THINGS ALL COHERENT? YOU HAVE TO DIRECT YOUR QUESTIONS TO YOURSELF CONSTANTLY AND FIGURE OUT THE WAY THEY ALL PIECE TOGETHER AND IT'S NEVER EASY.... SERIOUSLY, THERE'S A REASON IT TAKES HULK WEEKS TO WRITE THESE THINGS.

THERE IS A BATTLE WITHIN ALL OF US BETWEEN WHAT IS FAIRLY OBJECTIVE AND WHAT IS UNIQUELY PERSONAL AND HOW THOSE INFORM AN EXPERIENCE.

AS A CRITIC, YOU CAN BE CAUGHT IN BETWEEN TWO PLACES OF FUNCTION AND PERSONAL ETHOS AND THAT'S SOMETHING WE ALL NEED TO BE MINDFUL OF. IN HULK'S CASE, THAT DIVISION IS EVEN MORE PRESCIENT BECAUSE ON ONE HAND, HULK IS TRYING TO OFFER SOME VALID, CONCRETE INSIGHT BASED ON THIS REALLY UNIQUE BACKGROUND AND OFFER WHAT HULK HAS LEARNED. AND YET HULK IS ALSO TRYING TO BE HONEST AS A PERSONAL, INDIVIDUAL VOICE IN THEY STYLE OF PURE CRITICISM. IT'S DIFFICULT, BUT QUITE HONESTLY, WORKING BOTH ARENAS HAS TAUGHT HULK TO BE BETTER AT THE OTHER.

SO IN THE SPIRIT OF THESE "UNNECCESARY" FOLLOW-UPS THAT COME WITH THESE COLUMNS FROM TIME TO TIME, HULK JUST WANTS YOU TO UNDERSTAND ONE IMPORTANT THING:

THEY ARE ALL A PART OF HULK'S PROMISE TO GET BETTER.

<3 HULK

Film Crit Hulk's photo About the Author: FILM CRIT HULK WAS CREATED IN A CHAOTIC LAB EXPERIMENT INVOLVING GAMMA RADIATION, TELEPODS, AND THE GHOST OF PAULINE KAEL. NOW HULK HAVE DEEP AND ABIDING LOVE CINEMA.
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