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Headscratchers: Hancock
Making a long story short, the -uh- mythology of this movie really bugs some viewers, especially since the first act was just lighthearted drunken superhero fun. Here be spoilers galore:


What Is His Real Name?
Seriously. He had amnesia and all, but after he met Mary who knew him from before, why didn't she tell him his name? Furthermore, why is someone that old named Mary?
  • First of all, she could be named Mary simply because she like the name when she came up with a new identity last time. Second, why would some random name he once had before he got amnesia mean anything to him, instead John Hancock, which is the name he has had for literally as long as he can remember?
    • Because she may have changed her name at some point into something more era-appropriate? Besides, Mary is just the English form of Maria, which itself is the Latin form of Miriam, a name that already crops up in the Old Testament, and hence is very old.
      • See WMG/Hancock for speculation that she is the Biblical Mary, and Hancock is/was Jesus.
      • ... One would hope you mean Mary Magdalene, then, because otherwise that puts a very odd spin on their relationship.

Mary keeps saying that she and Hancock were "Built" to help humans.
And maybe this is just a case of terminology, but she keeps using the word "built" every time the subject comes up. So, were they literally built? And if so, how? And by who/what?
  • That's never explained. And it also adds to the whole bugging atmosphere. Check the next question...

In any case, the Superheroes were made in pairs.
We don't get much of an explanation beyond that. Presumably, they were all male/female pairs. If they're close together, they're just like normal people, but if they're far apart, they're FlyingBricks. Now what in the heck kind of system is that? If these beings were built to help normal people, why in the world are their mates —which they are instinctively drawn to by the way— their one weakness? (They are immortal, but certainly it wouldn't be a bad thing to have a few super-kids every once in a while... if they can even have children.) What happens if two superheroes from different pairs meet each other? And finally, if Mary and Hancock are Brought Down to Normal when they are near each other, how in the hell did they have that big crowd-pleasing battle in the city?!?!?
  • The Brought Down to Normal effect didn't happen instantly, it seemed as if it was slowly draining their abilities away. This troper guessed that the power drain was a failsafe by whomever "built" them, in case one of the heroes decided to rule the puny mortals rather than protect them.
  • Mary mentions that the immortals are only called superheros in modern times. Earlier, she claims people knew them as gods. Given how the gods of most mythologies treated the mortals around them, the system was probably put in place for the humans' protection. It's implied that Hancock's heroism is a personal trait of his, not a trait of his entire species.
    • If you call that "heroism"... given he woke up 80 years ago with massive amnesia, it's simpler to suppose he believes to be a superhero because that's what he is, according to today's pop culture. And thus, he tries to be heroic. And fais miserably. =P
      • He was a failed hero in the current day because of his amnesia, which he got as a result of a head injury while he was living with Mary as his wife, both of them Brought Down to Normal. When he woke up amnesiac, Mary left him so he could gain his powers back and heal, but the amnesia didn't go away, leaving Hancock clueless as to who he was except for the theater tickets. It was rage at knowing he used to belong somewhere that made him the Jerk Ass whose heroism wasn't very heroic. Soon as Mary's husband started showing him kindness and treating him like he belonged, he started trying to be properly heroic.
  • Seconding: what kind of stupid idea is to make incredibly powerful and immortal human beings that not only are each other's weakness, but also attract each other? If they're supposed to simply live together and die of old age, why make them powerful in the first place?!
    • Maybe the original reason for their creation was a temporary threat and their creators wanted a method by which they could assume a normal life after completing their mission?
      • Then they didn't need to be immortal. Or the creators could hit the on/off switch when the threat is over.
      • Hancock and Mary were constructed/built/created by the Greek Gods, weren't they? Creating super powered beings who protected man from harm but were inexorably drawn to the only other thing on Earth that would de-power them seems appropriately cute for the Greek Pantheon. Do great things and be alone, or lose your powers and live a blissful life with your one true love. That's exactly the kind of thing the Greeks loved.
      • "Hancock and Mary were constructed/built/created by the Greek Gods, weren't they?" Nope, see the first question on this page. We are only told that they were "built" but it's never elaborated on. We don't know who made them.
    • This troper figured that the depowering was a failsafe. Whoever designed/built the immortals foresaw a day when one of them might use their powers to become some sort of tyrant. To prevent this, they needed a way to "shut them down" that couldn't be destroyed or circumvented by the immortal themselves. So they pair-bonded the immortals, so that the only way one could remove the threat to themselves would be to render both parties mortal. Admittedly, it's not the best system, but it seems like it would work, without requiring direct interference from the creator.
    • Actually, there's one of Mary's lines in the movie, and I'm going to paraphrase, that says that they "come together and lose their powers to experience being human". It seems like a Fridge Brilliance moment if it's compared to Watchmen, where Dr. Manhattan grows increasingly detached from humanity to the point where he doesn't care about it because he's practically God. Therefore, they're made superhumanly powerful and immortal to save humans, but they're each others weaknesses when they come together so they know what it feels like to be human and have more of an incentive to save them. That's my take on it.
      • Truly with all due respect, bullshit. Given that it takes time (hours if not days) for them to de-power and power back up again, by the time they were up to fighting specs again the threat would have either gone away by itself or decimated a good sized chunk—-if not all—of humanity, and coincidentally probably taken a lot of supers along with it. The truth is, the whole de-powering thing was a bullshit excuse slapped together by lazy writers to make a mortal with one hand missing a credible threat. That's all it is, and pretending it's anything else is giving the movie way too much credit.
      • Um, no. That comment had zero respect for the troper who posted before you or anything else related to the topic. And given what you've said here, you're complaining about a film you didn't like, or possibly didn't even see.
      • Answer: it's to ALLOW reproduction. Consider if there was no depowering and no pair-attraction. Super + Normal = Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex. Super + Knows the previous but doesn't know he has a guaranteed mate = Can't Have Sex, Ever. Super + Super = Man of steel, woman of steel, bed of kleenex...BABY OF STEEL. Normal + Normal = Normal, for as long as they are together and raising the kid-who will presumably also be normal so long as mom and dad are close by-and takes days to power up again, so doesn't become Super Brat when at school.
      • Who Wants to Live Forever?
      • Presumably, the depowering effect is affected by the length of time together. The longer they are together, the longer it takes to regain full strength. It would explain why a surviving member wouldn't become a superpowered octogenarian when their mate died. Though, this is somewhat belied by Hancock healing instantly when Mary left him at the hospital.

On a lighter note, what was with all the eagles?
Hancock seems to be obsessed with them for some reason. Does that mean he's Zeus, or the inspiration for Zeus? Why is there an eagle with him in New York City? At night, no less? And is it just me or did she give the audience a look that said, "Please don't leave me alone with this guy."
  • What is it with Batman and bats? What is it with Dr Mid-Nite and owls? What is it with The Phantom and skulls? What is it with Superman and the letter S? He's a superhero, hence he needs a symbol, and clearly they thought a capital H was too formulaic.
    • This troper thinks it might have been the relation the character had to John Hancock. Maybe the thought process was Hancock → John Hancock → America → Eagles?
      • Made more likely by the fact that his becoming a "real" superhero was essentially a PR campaign. Nothing boosts your PR with Americans like appearing patriotic.

  • His hat had an eagle, and the PR guy noticed it. So he made him an entire eagle theme. It was cool, so Hancock liked it, so they kept the theme. If he had an Ecko Unlimited hat on, he might have ended up with a rhinoceros for a mascot (which would have been less patriotic and majestic, but more fitting his power style.)
    • Rhinos can fly? XD
      • According to old Red Bull commercials, yes.
  • It's more than just the hat. His entire prison cell was covered in doodles of eagles. There's obviously some deeper connection.
  • Some mythology scholars have connected him to Horus, the falcon-headed Egyptian god connected to the sky, sun, and war.
  • Because Will Smith is from Philadelphia!

Mary knows Hancock is in L.A. and an amnesiac, and when he finds who they are by accident, she tells him to get out of town.
What a jerk. And he listens!
  • She tells him to leave before he ever finds out who they are, because she knows that being around her makes him mortal and takes away his powers. It would seem like she was being a jerk, but actually she's doing what is best for him.
    • Alternatively, she's both doing what's best for him and being an enormous bitch.

Mary, an immortal, marries a mortal man and doesn't mention her immortality.
This took quite some time to hit me. So, Mary left Hancock and found another guy, and married him. So, as stated by her a little later in the film, she and Hanckock would be immortal and super powerful again. Now, how was she planning to explain why, say, twenty years in the future, she didn't age one single day? Really, that's the kind of thing that can destroy a relationship due to trust issues!
  • She can go quite a while before it starts to look really strange so maybe she just planned to tell him at some point, but she wanted to wait till he got to know her as a person before admitting to being a godlike superwoman. So that he would think of it as 'My wife has superpowers' and not 'This incredibly powerful superbeing wants to marry me.'
    • This may be a bit awkward, but wouldn't there be the same issues to getting intimate between Mary and Ray, i.e. Woman of Steel, Man of Kleenex?
      • Possibly, but they elected to remove those issues from the movie by cutting out the scene of Hancock getting head from an (under eighteen) girl and almost blowing her head off. For obvious reasons. So one can just assume that, like in most comic books, superheroes with such powers who aren't drunken louts have enough control over their powers and bodies to keep that from being a problem. (A rarely-mentioned secondary power of Superman's is that he has complete control over his body and his other senses besides sight and hearing, including his sense of touch, are extremely refined... he can know exactly how hard he could, ahem, thrust without doing damage just by paying attention to the way things feel.)
  • The way the plot of the movie plays out kinda bugs me. The impression I got from the movie was that someone pitched the script as an idea for a TV series, and someone decide to make it a movie instead. It starts out as a basic "Jackass Hero redeems himself, while making a bitter enemy!", something you would do in the first season to set up the characters and setting. Then in the second season, SHOCKING SWERVE! Mary has superpowers too! There use to be more superheroes! They were made in pairs! By... something goddish! Suddenly, Hancock has a weakness! The second half of the movie was just a smidge incoherent to this troper.
    • This one too, although I'd split it in three. Comedy superhero story, Redemption Quest superhero story, and weak-ass love triangle. Wish they'd pick one friggin story and stick with it...
    • What they should have done to improve the plot is to at least foreshadow it that Mary has superpowers too! This way, the second half of the film wouldn't just feel like an extended afterthought. (If this were a series, no foreshadowing would actually be somewhat excusable: The writers may not have come up with that plot point until the second season. (That's why Early-Installment Weirdness is a trope.) But in a movie, you have the chance to Retcon things like this into earlier parts of the script!)

PR Guy salvages Super Hero's image, so in return said Super Hero... makes passes on his wife?!
  • This bugged me the most about the movie. If some guy turns my life around and makes everyone stop hating me, I think I'd leave his wife alone...
    • They were built to be attracted to each other. And, um, the wife didn't exactly stop him. She told the husband to leave the room and leave them together, alone.
    • You're also ignoring how Hancock is pretty obviously doing his best to ignore the attraction he feels, because he knows it would be wrong to do that to the guy who's helping him. It's not like he's sitting there going "Hey baby, you wanna hook up?" right in front of her husband.

What's with all the suicidal people?
  • Hancock has the concentrated power of a small country's army with none of it's weaknesses, yet no one is afraid of him. Contrariwise, staggeringly many people pick on him and taunt his moral standards, the one thing that keeps him from raining hell on them and getting away with it. I mean, what did those prison thugs think would happen? And the impossibly brave French kid? The only explanation I see is that a mass suicide event is taking place.
    • Noting Hancock's observed tendencies, he puts up with the abuse others level at him with admirable stoicism. People probably just assume that he'll put up with their insults, being the idiots that they are.
      • Stoicism, my ass. Just because he "restrained" himself from killing them doesn't make him any less of a horrible excuse for a superhero.
      • The guys at the end of the movie, who knew Hancock was hospitalized with gunshot wounds, at least had reason to think they might be able to take him. The guys in prison were just Too Stupid To Live.
      • Hancock's a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, even if it's very deep down at first. Go and actually watch the film before whining about it.
      • Tell that to the city residents. Seriously, no one in their right mind would say a word to a flying alcoholic who can stop speeding trains. Heck, ever seen a drunk biker or heavyweight boxer? Come up to them and tell them something insulting. Check if their hearts are also made of gold!
    • Look at it this way - we've all seen how stupid people can be. How they can be so mouthy and arrogant and generally moronic. In movies too. So yeah, is it that tough to believe people are gonna be so stupid? When people initially think of super-heroes, they think of a guy who won't kill people. They make the assumption that he's not going to hurt them if they threaten somebody but Hancock is at first a drunken jerk.
    • The media and politicians make sense. They figure they can say anything they want to get ratings or build a career with empty words since Hancock will likely never bother with them. He has never cared enough to go after anyone but criminals, so why would he start now.

Isn't Hancock's power loss kind of inconsistent?
  • He's vulnerable to the point where bullets can kill him, and he's staggered by having a metal canister smashed into his face, but he can still casually smash through a wall merely by walking backwards into it and throw a vending machine one handed. It just seems that he loses his invulnerability to a disproportionate degree to his strength. This is ignoring that when he walked into the wall, apparently only slightly more resilient than a normal human, shouldn't he have injured himself?
    • Actually, martial artists regularly break through concrete blocks with their bare hands and don't get injured. Someone who is tougher than a human, just not quite bulletproof anymore is even less likely to be injured.
    • Besides, who's to say he didn't injure himself? Do you really need to see his hand mangled and bleeding to just assume he might have broken some fingers or knuckles?

Why visit the hospital
So, someone you love is injured because they've been standing in your vicinity, and have super powers that turn off when next to you. Do you A) Stand three feet away from them, fully supressing their superpowers so they only have normal human healing or B) Stay away for a few hours so their superhealing brings them back to 100%?
  • Easy - Mary herself said they were made in pairs; made to learn to live and be human. And Mary just did the human thing - visit somebody she cared about. Presumably she just popped in for a visit to check on him, and give him an explanation, knowing he'd be really confused and scared. She certainly didn't expect some bastards to turn up and threaten their lives more.

The Head up the ass.
I'm not bothered by the anatomical impossibility of it, I'm bothered that it's inconsistent with the serious tone that the movie follows in its second half. If your movie takes place in a world where a person can have their head comically shoved up another person's rectum without killing them, you have no business trying to pull off a dark superhero drama in the second set. It's like having Peter Porker, the Amazing Spider-Ham develop a serious drug abuse problem.
  • That's funny, I'm bothered by the anatomical impossibility of it precisely because of those reasons. But otherwise, agreed. You also have no business giving your villain goofy psychobabble lines like "use your words" and doing group-therapy handholdings with fellow inmates if you want him to be a credible threat later.
    • That's because it was originally intended as all-comedy, the second act drama tacked on later, as many other tropes have noted.
  • Maybe it's just my exposure to Red Dwarf but I think there are times you can have utterly ridiculous comedy and drama coexist, so that didn't really bother me about the movie. The Red Dwarf crew have had such abjectly ridiculous things happen to and around them, and yet I'm still capable of feeling for them genuinely when they have an emotional moment. (Like in the latest series, with Lister mourning at Kochanski's grave. They're making jokes about how he can't pronounce Jane Austen and hopes that Pride and Prejudice contains some car chases, but it's still genuinely moving.)

Why doesn't Mary just move somewhere else?
Mary left Hancock to prevent both of them losing their powers. Decades later, she knows he lives in the same city as her. Why doesn't she pack up her wet blanket husband and stepkid, and move to Australia or something?
  • Because no matter where she has gone previously, Hancock has followed. They were designed to be able to find each other.

Why was Ray ignorant of Hancock's history?
When they go out to dinner, Hancock tells Ray and Mary that he's like 80-something and that he doesn't age, and Ray is surprised by this information. Should it be in the history books, or at least common knowledge? Or did nobody care that a super-powered human being just suddenly appeared in the 1930's and that nobody bothered keeping tabs on him (not that it would be hard in any case)? Maybe Hancock didn't start actually super-heroing until recently, but that begs the question just what he was doing during that time.'
  • That info might be known, but that doesn't mean it has to be common knowledge. ——
  • Do you really think a super powered black man who's been inactive since the 1930s would be written about in a history book, and not just considered a legend of some kind?
  • For that matter, why would the 1930s media even want to acknowledge a black superman? He probably kept a low profile well into the 80s at least.

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