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The Incredible Hulk (1996)
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 this is a complex, modern superhero cartoon with a notable amount of animated action violence. Characters are conflicted about their powers and roles, and plots carry over from episode to episode. Not all episodes end with victory for the good guys; in fact, many end with things looking pretty bleak -- and not just in the cliffhanger sense. This isn't a show for kids who worry about the fates of the people they see on television.
What's the story?
When this animated iteration of THE INCREDIBLE HULK (which originally premiered in 1996) begins, Bruce Banner (voiced by Neal McDonough) is already the victim of the accident that causes his transformations. The Hulk (Lou Ferrigno) is its own entity, unaware of Banner within him but still only emerging when Banner is angry (an odd concept that some kids may not grasp). Throughout the series' run, Banner seeks a cure for himself and for his cousin She-Hulk, who was infected by an infusion of Banner's blood but is far happier about her hulky side than he is.
Is it any good?
This Hulk is dark and complex in the way of modern superhero comics. Every episode requires some knowledge of the overall back story -- or a willingness to try to figure it out. It's often not clear who characters are, and there aren't necessarily easy 20-minute story arcs. Nor do the good guys always win, and many episodes end on a bleak note. It's all well done, but young kids won't find much pleasure in the action. That said, older kids and fans of other takes on the Hulk will enjoy this different light on the story.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the show's various heroes -- the Hulk, She-Hulk, the Fantastic Four, etc. -- feel about their powers and the way that those powers limit their actions in society. What do they give up to be superheroes? Would you want to have their powers? How are their powers like the things that make people extra-powerful in real life -- such as money and fame?
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