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Film: Hancock

"Call me an asshole, one more time."
Hancock

Hancock is a 2008 film starring Will Smith as the titular hero.

The movie is about a drunken jerkass super-hero (played by Will Smith) who has been stopping crime in Los Angeles for years. He has absolutely zero Hero Insurance, and every time he stops crime, something gets horribly wrecked, only annoying the city's denizens more and more. Each additional crime he stops raises the level of enmity the Angelenos have for him, and it isn't helped by the fact that they're all aware he cannot be restrained. While he still opts to fight the bad guys, there is absolutely no public support for him.

Until he saves the life of Ray (Jason Bateman), an idealistic marketing executive. Ray convinces him to clean up his act: to change his image from being a clumsy jerkass with no care for property damage to actually acting and dressing the part of a superhero such that the people he saves will be happy to see him.

Soon Hancock opens up about himself, where he came from, and why he is constantly pissed off. It delves into his Super Hero Origin and there is a constant worry that everyone has a weakness, and Hancock doesn't know what his is.

The film's name is a case of title dissonance for British viewers of a certain age, who irrevocably associate the name with Tony Hancock, of Hancock's Half Hour fame. The actual reference, for those not well-versed in American history, is to John Hancock, who famously signed the American Declaration of Independence with a much larger signature than the other signers, leading to the idiom "put down your John Hancock" being used to mean "sign here."


Provides Examples Of:

  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Several.
  • Animal Motifs: Hancock often finds himself surrounded by subtle or prominent the imagery of an Eagle, waking up on a bench with an eagle painted on it, wearing a hat bearing a logo of an eagle on the front, scrawling eagles on the walls of his cell, etc. Ray seems to have noticed this recurring motif and purposely put an Eagle on Hancock's brand new suit as his symbol. His reintroduction to the public has him walk past a prominent metal statue of one, and finally, Hancock is shown watching over New York whilst sitting next to one.
  • Anti-Hero: Hancock is this at the start of the film - a drunken, sexist, homophobic, politically incorrect prick who cares nothing for collateral damage and only saves people out of some strange need. He grows out of it with Ray's help.
  • Arc Symbol: Ray's "All Heart" logo, which he hopes to convince big corporations use as brand recognition, to indicate the amount of charity work they do. They laugh him out of the room until the ending, when Hancock puts the All Heart logo on the near side of the moon.
  • Ass Shove: His favorite threat is to shove someone's head up someone else's ass. Later, he makes good on that threat.
  • Badass Bookworm: Kenneth "Red" Parker Jr. He's actually mentioned in a news report as a former Psychology professor who created a large underground network using psychological persuasion to create criminals.
  • Berserk Button: Call Hancock an asshole. One. More. Time. Mary also has one. She doesn't like it when someone calls her crazy.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: "Red" learns this the hard way.
  • Big Applesauce: Where Hancock chooses to set up his new life after leaving Mary alone in L.A.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Arguable, since Hancock and Mary are supposedly "drawn to one another" but do not hook up at the end. She's happily married and in love and he's doing what he loves doing, and they show no signs of actually wanting to hook up.
  • Black Comedy: The first act. The original scripts continued this way, but the addition of the second plot line takes it in a different direction.
  • Blatant Lies: Hancock's excuse for "coming in hot" when he landed in the street.
    Hancock: That was already like that when I got here.
    Ray: I live here... I know what the street looks like.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Hancock and other immortals like him suffers from this when they come into contact with their immortal mate. The loss of their powers allows them to decide to live a normal, mortal life and eventually die. All but Hancock and Mary have chosen this fate and died before the start of the film. Mary implies that they have made several attempts at this in the past, but Hancock is seemingly addicted to helping people, and they constantly end up apart so that he can resume being a hero.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Are these people tired of living?
  • Bus Full of Innocents: In this case a bank full of innocents acting as hostage to the robbers. Hancock saving them without loss of life or major property damage is precisely when his public image improves.
  • Cardboard Prison: Normal prisons have no hope of holding Hancock. He pulls a steel door off its hinges when he gets annoyed and flies over the fence to pick up a lost basketball. The fact that he's willing to stay of his own accord rather than actually escape is part of his Character Development.
  • Car Fu: Set off by the aforementioned Berserk Button.
  • Catch Phrase: When Hancock is still struggling to get the hang of getting people to like him, he's prone to saying "Good job" to anyone without much regard to context.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Remember the goofy first half of the movie where Will Smith is a Jerk Ass superhero? That sort of goes away for a while...
  • Coincidental Broadcast: TV news about Hancock are being aired whenever a TV is switched on.
    • Ignored Vital News Reports: At the convenience store, Hancock doesn't seem to take notice of the crucial news about Kenneth Parker Jr.'s prison break.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: Most of the movie revolves around Hancock cleaning up his act.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: The citizens, until Hancock's absence teaches them to appreciate him.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Hancock's most frequent threat to...everybody is to shove their head up people's asses. But since he's a superhero, he can, and in one scene does make good on that threat.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Often by Hancock and Ray; it's a feedback loop.
    • Ray Shows Hancock a video of him hurling Walter the whale back into the ocean...on top of a Greenpeace boat:
    Hancock: {Scoffs} I don't even remember that...
    Ray: .....Greenpeace does. Walter does.....
  • Death by Childbirth: Ray's first wife.
  • Deface of the Moon: Hancock carves the All Heart logo onto the moon as a thank you to Ray.
  • Deconstruction: Of superheroes, but in a fun way for the first half of the movie.
  • Destructive Savior: Hancock, before he cleans up his act.
  • Destructo-Nookie: In one of the deleted scenes, when a random girl has sex with Hancock, it ends like this.
  • Determinator: Hancock proves to be one, especially after he loses his powers.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Despite being made for each other, Hancock and Mary are quite happy to stay cities away from each other.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Hancock shoving people's heads up asses.
    • Mary, who rather than tell Hancock what was going on after they first meet, flings him out of her house and into the street. Justified- see Brought Down to Normal above.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Mary to Hancock. They were created as a pair. They even have similar trigger words.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: Especially when drunk.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: People just don't know when to stop taunting Hancock.
  • Dramatic Thunder: Punctuated by Snow Means Love.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Yes Hancock causes a lot of collateral damage but he also halts crime and saves lives but the people hate him because he's not nice about it.
  • Eagle Land: The television host who proclaims that Hancock is not as strong as the US Constitution...
  • Eternal Love: Hancock and Mary.
  • Finger Poke of Doom: Hancock's fingernails can leave drawings on walls and sharpen a steel lampshade to a cutting edge.
  • Flying Brick: The titular Hancock can fly and is completely invulnerable, to the point that even his facial hair is too tough for razors. He shaves using his fingernails. Super Strength taken to great levels. Hancock would have exerted 33 and a third million Newtons to stop that train.
  • Foreshadowing: One of the TV programs has someone insisting that Hancock should move to New York. He does in the end.
  • French Jerk: Michel. He gets flung upwards.
  • Freudian Excuse: Hancock is an asshole because when he woke up in the hospital with amnesia he learned that he apparently had no ties to anyone and that he had to have been some kind of ass to not know as single person who cared about his apparent predicament. Nobody said it was a good excuse.
  • Genre Shift: It goes from a Black Comedy (Act 1) to a Buddy Film (Act 2) to a Drama (Act 3).
  • A God Am I: Hancock has this attitude sometimes, but Mary gets it pretty bad for their fight.
    Hancock: You and I, we're the same.
    Mary: No, I'm stronger.
    Hancock: Really?
    Mary: *smugly* Oh yeah.
    • It helps they were Godlike, and called Gods since the beginning of time.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Hancock, at first. In the beginning, he's rude, lecherous, drunk, and cares next-to-nothing for public safety and property damage.
  • Groin Attack: Hancock breaks free from a choke hold in this way in the final fight.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: As laid out under Genre Shift.
  • Hero Insurance: Hancock's talent for causing collateral damage is wearing thin on the public at the start of the film.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: The premise. Ray intends to fix this by giving him 100% Heroism Rating: "Crowds should cheer when you fly by. Boys should beg for your autograph. People should love you. They really should."
  • Holding Out for a Hero: The first step in Ray's plan to fix Hancock's bad publicity is to "remind them that they need you."
  • Hook Hand: Red because Hancock rips his original one off to get around the deadman switch.
  • Identity Amnesia: Hancock was attacked with his wife and had his skull fractured, which erased any memory of who he was.
  • Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!: Hancock grabs a beached whale by the tail and throws it back into the ocean where it hits a boat and capsizes it. This is just one of many incidents on YouTube that Ray found of Hancock's "exploits."
  • Institutional Apparel: Orange jumpsuits in prison.
  • Jerkass: Guess. Although he gets better.
    • Mary is also this especially while she unloads 3,000 years of repressed anger in the street fight with Hancock, when he's repeatedly and honestly told her he doesn't remember anything about his former life.
  • Last of His Kind: Hancock believes himself to be this. There Is Another - Mary - but all the others died out.
  • Living Legend: Everyone knows who Hancock is. They know he's perfectly willing to help. They just don't like him very much.
  • Living Forever Is Awesome: Hancock and Mary decide to split permanently because they enjoy their immortality. Hancock, for instance, wants to be a super hero forever.
  • Magic Pants, Shirt and Shoes: Hancock wears normal clothes and regularly flies into the pavement. He's even slammed by a train at one point but his clothes never get shredded. Averted in a YouTube video Ray shows him in which what's left of his clothes are barely there after putting out an apartment fire.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Hancock and Mary's troubles throughout history are implied to be a result of their races.
  • Missing Mom: Ray's first wife died while giving birth to his son.
  • Movie Superheroes Wear Black: The suit he gets later on is black leather.
  • Nobody Calls Me Chicken: Hancock is about to abandon prison and heads for the door when Ray calls him out (You're being a coward!) which makes Hancock change his mind.
  • Not Hyperbole: While he may or may not actually be serious when making the threat, when Hancock threatens to shove someone's head up someone else's posterior, he really can do it, and will if pushed too far.
  • Not-So-Innocent Whistle: Mary whistles as she goes to fetch eggs from the fridge, which she threw (along with the titular character) through her wall upon revealing her powers to him.
  • Not So Invincible After All: Hancock and Mary lose their powers if they stay together. This was the reason for every other being like them dying out.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: Obviously exaggerated. The aforementioned French kid gets thrown maybe a mile up into the air and then caught maybe four feet from the ground without any apparent ill effects other than a bruised ego.
  • Only Sane Man: Ray is also the only person in the Hancock-verse who recognises that it's not a good idea to piss Hancock off.
    Mary: Did he just take the whiskey bottle to the bathroom?
    Ray: Do you want him to kill us all?
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: No idea where on earth Eddie Marsan's villain is supposed to be from. He's sometimes English, sometimes Southern US, and sometimes vaguely...Irish?
  • Pedestrian Crushes Train: Hancock spends a couple minutes extricating himself from its crumpled front end.
  • Physical God: Hancock and Mary are implied to be this. They're certainly powerful enough and have at many times in history been dubbed and worshipped as gods.
  • Politically Correct History: Averted. Hancock is assaulted in his weakened state by bigots in 1931 Florida because he's with a white woman. That's also the probable motive of the 1850 incident.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Mary, it's one thing to be displeased about what happened in the past with Hancock. But refraining from telling him about his past in his amnesic state and certainly threatening him only compound the problems which ultimately end up revealing her secret to Ray.
  • The Power of Love: As above, the supermen and women are designed in pairs that are drawn to each other, and according to Theron's character, being close to one another causes them to lose their powers so they can grow old and die together. However, Hancock's desire to continue being a hero even at the expense of their life together was, according to Mary, a failsafe, so that would always be somebody to watch over humanity. An attack while the two are depowered leads to Hancock becoming amnesiac, allowing Mary to leave and eventually meet Ray about eighty years later.
  • Power Of The Storm‎: When Hancock pisses Mary off, she creates a hurricane and several tornados.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Hancock and Mary, several thousand years old.
  • Rescue Introduction: When Hancock rescues Ray.
  • Screw Destiny: "People get to choose!"
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers!: A significant part of Hancock's attempt to clean up his act is to convince the public that he doesn't live by this trope and that they can hold him accountable for his actions by willingly serving time in prison for instance, until he's called back in to help.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: The deleted sex scene in Hancock's trailer home between Hancock and the girl. As they're about to get it on, the trailer violently rocks back and fourth until right before Hancock reaches the mountaintop, when he knocks the girl onto the couch and ejaculates three powerful shots through the roof.
  • Shaming the Mob: When a crowd jeers Hancock for causing massive collateral damage to save Ray, Ray chews them out for it and thanks Hancock instead.
  • Shout-Out: A crook in New York City references Wolverine when describing Hancock's costume, as it looks like the X-Men's black suits.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Charlize Theron. The DVD previews didn't do it, and it went to Trailers Always Spoil.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The film starts with Ray at the idealistic end, and Hancock at the cynical end. The movie ends up closer to center but still tilted toward idealism.
  • Stealth Pun: Ray meets Mary in the supermarket.
  • Symbol Motif Clothing: Hancock likes to put eagles on his clothes.
  • There Can Be Only One: Mostly inverted, the supers are in pairs who weaken each other if they get close enough, but the last two never quite get together.
  • The Stinger: A scene during the end credits with a NY crook triggering Hancock's Berserk Button.
  • Strapped to a Bomb: The hostages during the bank robbery.
  • There Is Another: Mary.
  • Think Nothing of It: What Hanock does not say but means, subverted in that the people think a lot of it
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • All the criminals, and arguably most of the citizens. The titular superhero Hancock is a Jerk Ass Flying Brick who can and will use his powers to frighten, humiliate, or possibly mutilate anyone who remotely displeases him. He's also immune to harm. Despite this everyone save Ray, the main character and the only one with any common sense either insult him, try to provoke him, or shoot him; despite the fact it should be obvious he will cause them serious harm in return.
    • The (former) prisoners who assault Hancock at the hospital. Sure he can be hurt now because he's turning mortal. But he still has Super Strength. And there is no way they could have known he'd be vulnerable.
      • The scene before showed a news report about him being hospitalized with gunshot wounds. Though they did start planning to escape and get revenge long before this happens though.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Later trailers and the DVD cover all spoil the twist that there's another superhuman.
  • Trainstopping: Hancock saves Ray by stopping a freight train from hitting his car. He seriously damages the front of the train and knocks it off the rails, but apparently nobody onboard was seriously injured.
  • The Unfair Sex: Hancock even calls Mary out on this.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Averted: While other citizens yell at Hancock for derailing the train, and Ray himself does agree that he could have just lifted the car up instead but he is none the less thankful towards Hancock.
  • Untrusting Community: Amazingly averted. The population of Los Angeles are belligerent and ungrateful, berating Hancock for his methods of stopping crime and saving people (which costs the city in millions and often trashes some poor sod's day).
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Hancock's only weakness? His intended mate. Any attempt to live a loving, fulfilling life with his wife of 3,000 years will cause them to both become mortal in order to die together. Unfortunately, Hancock has a hero complex to save people. Which attracts bad guys who attack them in their weakened state. They argue, he leaves, they meet again and the whole cycle starts again.
    • Hancock, despite his invulnerability and seeming ability to survive in space can still get drunk. Not exactly a kryptonite factor but it's something.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Perks: Hancock had this image in the public eye until Ray taught him how to make a good enough impression to make people realise that he genuinely was a superhero.
  • Wonder Twin Powers: Subverted. When Mary and Hancock are around each other for long periods of time, they become more like normal humans. When they spend time apart again, the effect is reversed.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Part of the premise of the first half of the film.
  • Where Da White Women At?: Hancock and Mary have been together for centuries in a mixed marriage. In fact, Hancock's amnesia is a result of being assaulted by bigots because he was with a white woman in pre-Civil Rights era Florida.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: This is actually a reason why there's no one else like Hancock: superheroes were made in pairs, and when they fell in love, they become mortal to live, have kids, and die together - and everyone but Hancock and Mary found peace.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Hancock tosses the asshole French kid bothering him up in the air and only catches him at the last second. Ray is visibly shaken. Not that many viewers cared.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Hancock was released in 2008. The movie he and Mary were supposed to see "eighty years ago" was Frankenstein. The Universal version was released in 1931, and the previous version in 1910. Admittedly, Mary could be approximating.


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alternative title(s): Hancock
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