"God Help the Outcasts"
Bruce and Hulk know all about monsters.
They have hidden from their father's rages,
dodged his fists when they could, and they've
watched as he beat their mother to death.
They have run from General Ross, who has
hunted them to the ends of the Earth and cared
nothing about the collateral damage he did.
They run from themselves, too,
but there is no escaping that.
Bruce likes stories where the monster dies
and the good people are left to live out their lives
free from the shadow cast by such evil.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame has been
a favorite since he discovered it in English class
all those years ago, so when Steve picks it out for
Game Night because it's old enough that he and
Bucky can remember it, Bruce grins and agrees.
There's something different about this movie,
though, and it's not just the animation.
The tone is subtly different, and Bruce
doesn't like that. It gets under his skin
and itches, like a burr he can't find.
You can lie to yourself and your minions
Bruce has built a life for himself
on the solid foundation of science,
but no matter how much he tries to rely
only on facts, sometimes he still feels
like he's living in a house of cards
waiting for a big green fist
to knock down everything he's done.
You can claim that you haven't a qualm
Of course Bruce hates and fears the Hulk,
who has ruined his life, even if it's better now
than it was a year ago, it would be best
if the Hulk were gone for good.
Bruce knows that Hulk is a monster,
doesn't hesitate to shove him down and in,
locked in a mental basement for the sake
of everyone's safety. It's the right thing
to do. It's the only thing to do.
But you never can run from
Nor hide what you've done
Popcorn rustles and crunches
as Bruce digs his hand into the bowl,
trying to drown out the song, wanting
to hide his face behind his fingers and
puffed kernels and warm butter that
tastes like herbes de Provence.
It doesn't help much.
Who is the monster and who is the man?
Bruce isn't as sure as he used to be,
and that makes him uncomfortable.
Hulk never comes out during Game Nights --
those are for Bruce and the others -- but
he likes to peek over Bruce's shoulder
and soak up the nice feelings.
Tonight is not so nice because
the cartoon is making Bruce upset.
It's a story about a man and a monster,
and it's not exactly clear on which is which,
so it's confusing for Hulk and sad for Bruce.
Hulk wants to pick him up and
rock him until Bruce stops worrying
and falls asleep, but he can't.
Hulk only has hands when Bruce goes inside.
The gypsy lady is pretty, though, and Hulk
likes her voice. She reminds him of Betty.
God help the outcasts
Hungry from birth
Bucky's tummy grumbles just then,
and so Hulk nudges Bruce into
a clumsy left-handed pass of
the popcorn bowl to him.
God help my people
We look to You still
Steve has that lonely,
lost-in-time look again.
Hulk knows that Steve lost
everyone he ever knew --
except for Bucky, of course --
and that hurt even to think about.
Hulk wants to cuddle Steve, but
he can't, because Bruce won't budge.
God help the outcasts
Or nobody will
Everyone sitting around the television
is an outcast in one way or another.
If there's one thing Hulk understands,
it's that -- being shut out of the world.
Well, Hulk isn't going to wait around
for God to help anyone. If God is real,
he isn't here and that means it's up to Hulk.
This would be easier if Bruce would
just let him out more often, because
Hulk is good at different kinds of
saving the day than Bruce is.
It's not Bruce's fault, though, not really.
I ask for nothing
I can get by
Hulk is learning a lot about feelings now,
and how much their father hurt them, and
how that still affects both of them today.
Bruce isn't a monster just because he
keeps Hulk locked inside most of the time,
not the way that Hulk used to think he was.
Bruce isn't doing it for mean reasons like
Thunder chasing them and hurting people
because he's a big old bully; Bruce is doing it
because he's afraid Hulk will hurt people.
Hulk can get by without the sunshine,
if it would just make Bruce happy.
But I know so many
Less lucky than I
They've never been lucky, and
Hulk knows that better than anyone,
because Bruce doesn't believe in luck.
They've both seen people worse off,
though, and tried to help when they could.
It's what the Avengers do.
Please help my people
The poor and downtrod
Clint sniffles. Uncle Phil
passes him a tissue. Clint
takes it without looking and
scrunches closer to Bruce.
Hulk can't do much while
Bruce is out, but this much
he can manage -- he drops
the left elbow off the couch
around Clint, and the archer
burrows underneath to curl up
in a ball against Bruce's side.
Bruce sighs, but doesn't try
to push Clint out of the way.
God help the outcasts
Children of God!
Hulk doesn't know about God,
but at least they can help each other.
* * *
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (French original: Notre-Dame de Paris) by Victor Hugo is a famous gothic romance. Disney made it into an animated movie. The depictions of disability and ostracism are complex and troubling in both.
"The Bells of Notre-Dame" lyrics from The Hunchback of Notre-Dame composed by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz may be enjoyed on YouTube.
Check out this recipe for Frenchified Popcorn.
"God Help the Outcasts" lyrics from The Hunchback of Notre-Dame composed by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz also appear on YouTube.