Although I have no interest whatsoever in seeing The Happening and I’m not particularly enthused about the new Incredible Hulk, I couldn’t help but observe this years’ (so-far mediocre) crop of summer movies features a few scientists as heroes. First there was archaeologist Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and yesterday audiences could see Edward Norton take up the role of fictional scientist Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk (“Doc Bruce Banner, Pelted by gamma rays, Turned into the Hulk. Ain’t he unglamorous!“). While not featuring a heroic scientist per se, the protagonist of the newly released The Happening is a elementary school science teacher who tries to figure out why people are feeding themselves to lions and throwing themselves under lawnmowers, among other things, therefore fitting into the general category I’m talking about here.
How do such films shape public opinion about science and scientists? Is there even recognition that the protagonists are scientists or are we so wrapped up in their abilities/the problems they face that it is irrelevant? For better or for worse scientists are still appearing in major films, and since I’m going to be hiking for most of the day I thought that I would open such questions up for discussion. What do you think?