Sample Philosophy Paper on Personal Identity of The Hulk in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe

The Hulk is a recurring character in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.  The Hulk is a humanoid character possessing supernatural strength and if green in color.  The Hulk is not an independent person but rather manifests from the frail Bruce Banner who is a renown physicist (Epstein). There are not similarities between Bruce Banner and the Hulk in terms of physical appearance and the character.  A question that has troubled philosophers and comic fans alike is whether Bruce Banner is the same person as the Hulk. Whether there is a continuation of physical identify when Bruce Banner transforms into the Hulk. When Bruce Banner transforms into the Hulk there exists some degree of bodily continuity and one can argue that Hulk’s body is the same as that of Bruce Banner despite the differences (Epstein).  Bruce Banner is aware of the existence of the Hulk but the Hulk is often not conscious of the existence of Bruce Banner.  He exists in a consciousness continuum that does not take cognizant of his other self. For the Hulk to be effective in battle he has to forget the existence of Bruce Banner.

John Locke argues that personal identity is a pegged on psychological continuity as opposed to the continuity of the body and the soul. Locke further argues that self-identity and consciousness is dependent on the person and as such third parties cannot fully judge whether a person has a different self-identity. A prince who dies and resurrects as a cobbler would remain a prince because of the psychological continuation of the memories of the Prince (Nimbalkar). Personal identity and self-awareness are an intricate web of memories which form consciousness.  John Locke argued that the brain and the body may change but the consciousness remains the same. The theory of memory attempts to tackle whether resurrection is possible and whether after resurrection and during judgment day people will be able to remember their sins.

In applying the theory of memory to Hulk and Bruce Banner, one would argue that Bruce Banner and the Hulk are the same person. Although Bruce Banner transforms into a greenish giant with supernatural strength, under the theory of memory such changes are expected and they do not alter the consciousness of the Hulk or Bruce Banner (Epstein).  When Bruce Banner is transforming into the Hulk, he does not lose his consciousness and as such his identity remains the same according to the theory of memory. It is important to appreciate that Bruce banner does not have any control over the actions of the Hulk. The Hulk appears when he is provoked and often Bruce Banner does not remember the actions of the Hulk after the transformation (Nimbalkar). It raises the question whether Bruce Banner would be legally liable for the offences committed by the Hulk.  Bruce Banner would argue that the change in the physical composition of his body is a process beyond his control. His body size and physical composition does not allow Bruce Banner to perform the extra-ordinary feats done by the Hulk. A close analysis reveals that although almost all the conditions under the theory of memory are met, Bruce Banner is not the same person because he does not have the recollection of the actions undertaken by the Hulk. The lack of memory draws a clear conclusion that the Hulk and Bruce Banner are not the same persons after each transformation.


Works Cited

Nimbalkar, Namita. “John locke on personal identity” Mens sana monographs vol. 9,1 (2011):


Epstein, Orit Badouk. “Working with the Incredible Hulk.” Ritual Abuse and Mind Control.

Routledge, 2018. 155-168.