Sunday, February 21, 2010

Character Profile: Hunk

The Mercenaries introduced me to the neck-snapping and silent Hunk. It took me a while to get used to him, but he turned out to be the character for those tense trapped-in-a-corner moments. The problem with Hunk is unlike Leon, Krauser, Wesker or Ada, he doesn't have definition as a character. I was making him go into insane and zombie-filled situations without knowing the real history behind him. I'll admit, I thought he was a little bland. Then I started opening up his character and exploring the man behind the gasmask. Though he may lack a voice, this doesn’t mean that Hunk lacks a personality. In fact, it means that there’s a wide range of speculation for his profile. And though most of what you see is really what you get, especially in the Mercenaries, his character goes much deeper than his outside appearance. Underneath the combat gear and silent façade, he’s a character obsessed with death and a character who suffers from a number of psychological delusions in order to cope with his job. He's called Mr. Death after all.

Two months after the first incident in 1998, Hunk was a part of an elite unit sent to recover the G-virus from an underground lab. He was the only one to survive. About three months after that, he had a hand in the mission to deliver the T-virus to Rockfort Island. For a character who’s so seemingly minor, Hunk has really gotten around in the Resident Evil universe. This is what makes his character so interesting. He’s practically a ghost when it comes to the operations he’s been involved in, yet you can see the impact it has had on everyone. He’s a behind the scenes kind of mercenary. Whenever he goes on a mission, he completes it with deadly precision and what makes his tactics so interesting is that he’s always the only person to return from his squad. This happens because all he knows is the mission. He’s got a serious case of occupational tunnel vision. What kind of personal life could that make for? Being known as a reaper could do some serious psychological trauma to a person’s sense of self. There are a few theories about his character, two of which I think are probably the most sound.

Hunk’s a cold-blooded assassin who exists for the next objective. Through this “mission only” mentality, he’s able to justify the use of his Death persona. It’s an efficient mindset for killing zombies and the occasional tofu monster. Hunk was originally trained at Rockfort Island and there he learned how to kill quickly and ruthlessly. Now, working for the Umbrella Corporation as a scientist is pretty dicey. You’re exposed to lethal viruses, there’s a pretty good chance of getting mauled or going insane, but at least the danger isn’t imminent. Working as a mercenary for a company who dabbles in necromancy is going to be filled with death and your conscience is likely to be laden with the guilt of what you’ve helped do. Hunk is something special. Using his persona as Mr. Death, he puts himself into a mindset where he becomes more than a merchant of death. He thinks that because he is the only one ever to come back from the mission that he’s an invincible spectre, a character who has achieved “god mode” status. This is a really interesting way of looking at his psychology.

Another is to look at his exterior persona as nothing more than a façade. If we look at his character history, so much has been protected. We don’t even know his first name. The persona as Mr. Death and Hunk could be his way of protecting his identity as an individual. This has to do with his psychological conditioning. On one hand, his identity as Hunk could have been created through warfare. On the other hand, his persona could have been created during training in order to protect his identity as an individual. I like to think of his gas mask as a physical manifestation of his obscurity of self. It’s him protecting his identity and keeping his person separate from his persona’s actions. You can see how his character is open to a scope of speculation.

You can see some similar psychological profiles in other characters in the series. Ada Wong has a very similar attitude about her identity as Hunk. Her prologue in Resident Evil 3 says:

A woman looks at herself in the mirror. She used to be called Ada Wong… but this morning she will say good-bye to that name. “I’m not Ada anymore.” She feels her ab and thinks “This is Ada’s scar, not mine.” And as she says good-bye to Ada Wong, she can’t stop her tears. However, there isn’t much time left before her next mission.

This could be me reading way too much into things, but it looks like “Ada Wong” is just another created persona. She seems to have created a second self in order to deal with her role as both a tool for the Umbrella Corporation and Wesker. This kind of disassociation is related to a real psychological disorder called Dissociative Identity Disorder. With Hunk, we see another and very similar epilogue:

“Once again, only your survived, Mr. Death,” the chopper pilot speaks with cold bitterness. “Always, only your, survive, Mr. Death,” the pilot continues. But Hunk does not respond to the pilot. He doesn’t care. “The Death cannot die…,” the survivor thinks to himself with a warm smile…”

Unlike actual cases of DID, Hunk and Ada are aware of their actions and aware of their seperate personalities. Hunk may be a little more schizophrenic than Ada, but without any real kind of definition of character it’s hard to come to a real conclusion about his psyche. Being deluded into thinking that he is more than just a merchant of death, but Death itself could obviously create some psychological trauma. Or it could just be his way of coping with his work. Ada and Hunk aren’t at the level of disassociation as Alfred Ashford. Through Alfred, we can see that there is a history of this character creating process in the Resident Evil series. Hunk is just a little more obscure in his motives.

One definitive aspect of Hunk is that he’s a veritable badass. He is a trained solider who has undoubtedly participated in many combat situations and recovery operations. We see how effective of a soldier he can be when fully utilized in the Mercenaries and we see how clean his methods are in the Fourth Survivor. What makes his character so unique and standalone is that no matter how invincible he may be or how important he is to the canon, he has been left undeveloped. And this is a good thing. His ambiguity is what makes him such an interesting character to read into. All we have from him are a handful of quotes and a few case histories of his operations. That’s about it! He’s a hunk of combat gear and death!

I’m certain that Hunk has a life outside of the Umbrella Corporation. Somewhere in the Resident Evil canon there’s room to give this character a little more definition, but there is a slight problem with this. Imagine what would happen if we were to learn about his family. In the Resident Evil universe, the individual is always a target and family is right at the core of most characters. Another theory about his lack of definition is that he is trying to protect, not only his self, but his family. By withholding information about his personal life, he is protecting those who he might love. It’s a little bit of a cheesy theory, but it would help explain his deadly mindset and his creation of the Hunk persona.

Everyone always seems to complain about the campy writing in Resident Evil. The dialogue can get a little corny every once in awhile, but on the whole characters of the series are well defined, deep and interesting. Hunk is unique in that what little definition he has says a lot about his personality. Through just a few lines of dialogue, we can find so much detail about this silent assassin. I just hope he doesn’t get a gritty reboot any time in the near future. He’d probably have to kill the writers.

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