A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Marvel's Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. centers on Hulk and a foursome of similarly buff characters. As superhero cartoons go, this one has a noticeably dark aura and menacing themes, illustrated by the very violent clashes between the hulks and their stated enemy, Annihilus. Part of the reason the battles are so intense is that the hulks can withstand just about anything that's thrown (or shot) at them, so kids will see them walk away from injuries that would kill in the real world. There are some moments of levity and glimpses into Hulk's more genteel side, but they're overshadowed by the intense battle scenes and the green hero's sullen, brooding dominant persona.
What's the story?
In MARVEL'S HULK AND THE AGENTS OF S.M.A.S.H., the infamous green hero heads up a new team of burly supers, all of whom have been "hulkified" by gamma radiation. Joining Hulk (voiced by Fred Tatasciore) are Red Hulk (Clancy Brown), She-Hulk (Eliza Dushku), Skaar (Ben Diskin), and new transformee A-Bomb (Seth Green). Things can get pretty rough around a lair when everyone there has super strength, but this group also forms an unlikely –- and somewhat dysfunctional –- family whose bonds are tested by Annihilus (Robin Atkin Downes) and his legion of minions.
Is it any good?
Hulk is no stranger to the small screen, but Marvel's Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. puts an altogether different spin on the smash-happy hero of old. When he's not out decimating the enemy, he's hanging out with his homies, and just like in any family, the sparks often fly among the hot-headed compatriots. What's more, one of his friends documents this "real-life" drama to post on a webcast in an effort to show Hulk's softer, more intellectual side to people who see him as little more than a thug. An interesting concept, to be sure, and one that could yield possible positive themes for kids, if not for number of times he reverts to his brutish, monosyllabic self, uttering things like "Hulk am smart!" or "Hulk smash!" while he pulverizes everything in sight. He's a moral contradiction, and ultimately the result is confusing for young viewers.
Even so, the show spends less time exploring these new personality nuances than it does covering the violent exchanges between the Hulks and Annihilus, their would-be assassin, and at the end of the day, that's the kind of content that will make a mark on the kids it's designed to attract.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this show's violence translates to the real world. What would be the fallout if we solved problems the way these characters do? What false impressions does this show give about the long-term effects of war?
Kids: How does this incarnation of Hulk differ from others you've seen before? Is there more or less depth to his character? Why do you think super heroes are such a popular subject for TV shows and movies?
A consistent theme in this story is the discrepancy between Hulk's image and his true personality. Do you think this is true of all celebrities? How important is an image to their popularity? What happens when they behave in a manner that negatively impacts their image?
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