A banner day indeed

You remember the Incredible Hulk. Largish guy, a bit on the green side, given to SMASH! things when provoked. Marvel sold a bazillion comics with his darker-than-chartreuse self on the cover.

Unfortunately, the incessant Michael Baying of motion pictures has led us, or at least Sonic Charmer, to a quandary:

I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking “duh. A guy transforms into a giant green monster due to ‘gamma radiation’, and you call it implausible? It’s a comic book concept. Duh!” And, other things involving me being an idiot. But hold your horses. Can you answer me something:

Why/how do the guy’s teeth get bigger?

This wasn’t something you thought about at all in the comics, or very much in the Ang Lee Hulk film. But bring it into a “reboot” that’s all about the FX, and the brain refuses to go along with the handwaving in the screenplay:

Far as I can tell from the video-game-quality CGI, the Hulk’s size is proportionally bigger than Edward Norton/Eric Bana’s size in basically all respects. It’s not just that his muscles got bigger in the sense of having taken super-steroids or something. He gets way taller — sometimes, it seems, way way taller. Let’s say the factor is 2.3x. (Who the hell can say … one major annoyance of both movies is a seeming inability to keep the scale consistent.) This means that all his bones got longer: 2.3x longer femur, 2.3x longer tibia, etc.

Which means about a factor of twelve, volumetrically speaking. And somehow this seems less plausible for dentition:

The teeth appear to be the right size for his (suddenly way oversized) head. There’s only one thing this can mean: As part of the Hulk transformation, all your teeth get bigger: they get longer and they get wider. Then when things die down, all the teeth shrink again.

Seriously? Why? Why would the teeth do that? And how?

Hey, if I knew that I could end gingivitis in our lifetime: a few well-placed gamma rays, and bingo!

At least he’s not sending pictures of his Mega-Junk to the girls. And if that concept wasn’t gross enough, try this one from several years back:

A few eons ago, Sheri S. Tepper wrote of Mavin Manyshaped, one of a clan of shapeshifters, who, once her powers develop, flees from the family compound, lest she be abused like the other women in the clan. Mavin takes her younger brother with her; to speed the process along, she assumes the shape of a horse.

So far, this is a fairly routine fantasy concept, but Tepper is never routine. If you think about it — obviously she did — the Mavin/horse is going to have to eat, and eat a lot, during a long journey like this, and once she returns to human form, well, what’s going to happen to all that bulk she was carrying as an equine?

And we were worrying about teeth.


  1. Charles Pergiel »

    7 June 2011 · 6:47 pm

    OK, what kind of weird theory can I come up with to explain these bizarre phenomena? One, it’s all psychological. Nobody every really changed shape and/or mass, we just have reports from people who “saw” these things, and as we all know from watching too many cop shows, eyewitness testimony is the absolutely the worst kind of evidence. Two, it’s a quantum molecular effect that allows things to expand and contract by changing the distances between atoms. Three, it’s a super-advanced-technological trick that allows them to pull (or push) mass through an internal worm hole from the moon, or the center of the earth.

    But I like the comic book explanation best – none at all.

  2. Dan B »

    7 June 2011 · 7:51 pm

    Isaac Asimov noted similar problems (but in the other direction) when writing the novelization of Fantastic Voyage (1966), and goes into greater detail (for both directions) in one of his pop-sci essay collections.

  3. CGHill »

    7 June 2011 · 7:55 pm

    It could be worse. Benjamin J. Grimm, the ever-lovin’ Thing from the Fantastic Four, was Jewish. Fortunately, his bris took place rather a long time before he was transformed into that orange brickish configuration.

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