|The Hulk’s Incredible Genome|
By Merete Rietveld
July 11, 2003
The Hulk lumbers onto movie screens this summer, manhandling the U.S. Army, high-powered weaponry, and genetics.
He follows fellow genetically altered mutants Spiderman and the X-Men in another Marvel Comics classic adapted for the silver screen. Unlike the others, however, the Hulk is no superhero; he’s a modern-day Frankenstein on the run.
The original comic, published in the 1960s, was about a nuclear physicist working on atomic bombs whose body mutated in response to radiation. The movie inserts a mutant gene into the plot.
We meet the Hulk as Bruce Banner, a researcher trying to use biotechnology to enhance the human immune system. When his lab equipment malfunctions one day, Banner shields a colleague but exposes himself to a deadly dose of gamma radiation.
Banner not only survives, but he feels better than ever. He’s experiencing more than an improved immune system. Then, a fit of rage causes him to morph into the Hulk and leave behind his mild-mannered lab persona.
Here’s where the Hulk genome enters the picture. Banner’s father, a mad scientist, had experimented on himself in the lab long ago and passed on a genetic mutation to his son. The gamma radiation activated this dormant gene, creating Banner’s green and brawny alter ego.
This is a genetic mutant with an attitude. The government tracks down the Hulk by following his trail of wreckage. Enraged by the barrage of bullets that bounce off his rippling green muscles, the Hulk reacts with a roar, twisting helicopters into knots and riding a fighter jet into the stratosphere.
The movie’s fight and flight sequences add excitement to an otherwise lethargic plot. If you can sit through the corny love scenes between the Hulk and his fetching lab partner, you will be rewarded with images of the Hulk bounding over the Grand Canyon and defying every modern weapon.
But be prepared to stretch your imagination when it comes to Hulk genetics—and to Banner’s pants, which stay on even after his transformation.
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