Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I like superhero movies and ones based on graphic novels or comics. I have to. Otherwise I'd be rolling my eyes through most of M's film choices, haha. That said, it was my turn to choose and therefore my idea to go and see Hancock recently. I kind of wish I hadn't bothered now.

If you haven't seen it, I wouldn't recommend reading any further as spoilers follow in (hopefully) the same colour as the background, highlight to read...

My main problem with the film is regarding Hancock's female counterpart, Mary. She takes the executive decision to let Hancock remain unaware of her existence and leave him in his amnesiac state. So far so-so, if they're together they're mortal and they'll end up getting murdered or whatever, and she can't bear to see him in pain or watch him die. OK.

He gets about the drunken bumming (cos nobody cared enough about him to claim him from the hospital = her fault) and bit of heroing.

What does Mary do? She finds a widower with a child, settles down and lives a very conventional domestic life. No heroics for her. She's not out to change the world, she's not looking for new England, la la la. Her choice is to "save" one man by being his wife and a mother to his child. She plays a part hiding her true abilities, even to the extent of pretending to need Ray's (her mortal husband) help to open a jar. She doesn't even lead a double life and do a bit of rescuing on the side, her whole secret is that she used to be Hancock's wife - and his vulnerability.

She claims to be stronger and in some ways more powerful than Hancock in their later confrontation, but he was somehow always the best at the hero business, apparently. She can throw him about the room (well, through it) but she couldn't possibly have an interest in being heroic outside the home, making a difference on a national or even city-wide scale, oh no.

Ray raises Hancock out of his self-pity through his idealism and Mary finishes the job by being the catalyst for making him the hero he is supposed to be. Ie. in the end, Hancock sacrifices his love/happiness and saves both their lives by leaving. And she can go back to playing happy families with Ray.

It galls me that the essential message I get about women from this film, is that at base being someone's wife and mother is their real aspiration, desire, raison d'etre and they are willing to give up everything else about themselves for it. While it's important for Ray to promote and help Hancock live up to his potential despite his reluctance, funnily enough, he's content to let Mary return to obscurity at his side. Hmmm.

It's not that those roles of wife and mother are not important or valid choices, for they are, very much so - but to the exclusion of all else, to the rejection or dismissal of one's own potential and even identity?

Think of it this way, could the roles of Hancock and Mary have been reversed? And if not, (and I do believe it is "not"), then why not? Why would it not have been alright for him to choose domestic tranquillity and her to go off springing across buildings to a life of lonely glory & heroism?

Finished: Wide Sargasso Sea


ellie said...

Good points, haven't seen this one yet but it sounds like it may be a tad irritating.

I don't so much mind when I film isn't good, but when it's irritating - nash.

Mephitis said...

I did enjoy it on some levels, it was quite fun and watchable - but afterwards I got grumpier and grumpier about it. :)