Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.: Fear Itself — review

Screenplay by Brandon Auman.

When a fantasy show has an ensemble of characters, one of the filler episodes can be to have those characters encounter an embodiment of fear, which manifests as what each character’s afraid of the most. It’s an old formula, but it’s used so commonly because its effectiveness is determined by how well-written your characters already are. There are many animated shows that have employed the device, and it’s finally time for Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. to do the same.

It was Hulk himself who said that, with the potential for discord and disagreement and lack of resolve, a team was a time bomb. In that case, it was he who was being deployed as the trigger, as his greatest weakness, anger, is also the most harmful to others. He is, essentially, a grenade. What he fears the most as a character is losing control and destroying those around him. That’s why his fear manifests as Dark Hulk, a personification so real it desires its own introduction card.

It’s not so much a sophisticated narrative as an original retelling of something already seen. Yes, the premise is formulaic, and often does end in the same way of the fear being used against the parasite, but it doesn’t matter. Because that canvas is so widely spread that it’s what’s projected onto it that really matters. It allows character study, and everything about Banner’s there from the moment this particular version of that same parasite attacks him, because his fear is revealed as a darker version of himself. Really, the battle was lost from the moment it began, because Hulk’s fear is so powerful that he’s inspired to not be what he knows he could turn into. And it’s that simplicity that puts everything in perspective – the concept of fear really is that uncomplicated. Banner’s a realistic character, but it’s Hulk, the fantasy element, that’s unremarkable. And so it makes perfect sense for an unremarkable character to have unremarkable fears. And that makes fighting so much better. Fear Itself really is the only thing we have to fear.

And cue The Daniel Caine Orchestra – Lonely Man.

Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.: Fear Itself — unremarkable plot is remarkably important 8/10.

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