While Boris Johnson’s comparison of Brexit Britain to The Incredible Hulk drew praise from some Tory ministers, much of the online reaction has involved memes and mockery.
The Prime Minister told the Mail On Sunday that the UK will break out of the European Union’s “manacles” in the manner of Bruce Banner, who transforms into the giant green Hulk when angered in the Marvel superhero comics and movies.
However, Twitter account @Pundamentalism, wondered: “Which Avengers film was it where Hulk successfully negotiated all the independent trade deals that they needed to survive?”
Many were similarly confused by the comparison, suggesting the Hulk was perhaps not a character to aspire to emulate.
“The Hulk always ends up isolated and depressed in his pants feeling shit about all the people he’s killed,” comedy writer James Felton commented.
“Even the Incredible Hulk didn’t want to be the Incredible Hulk,” LBC radio host James O’Brien tweeted, adding: “What a strange inspiration.”
Labour MP Jess Phillips condemned the apparent lack of understanding shown by Mr Johnson’s comic book metaphor.
“This is the kind of thing my kids would say aside from they would never make such glaring errors about The Hulk, I’ve raised them properly,” she tweeted.
Meanwhile Call The Midwife actor Stephen McGann added: “I also note, with reference to the Hulk, that Theresa May’s ‘red, white and blue Brexit’ has morphed effortlessly into a ‘green, violent and emotionally unstable’ Brexit.
Another, by @GeneralBoles, shared an image of Mr Johnson coloured in green while speaking with BBC journalist Laura Kuenssberg on a bench – a recent favourite for meme-making about the Tory leader.
Playing on the viridescent superhero’s catchphrase “Hulk smash”, the caption reads: “What were you NOT meant to do? SMASH CONSTITUTION. and what did you do. SMASHED CONSTITUTION.”
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay praised Mr Johnson’s novel metaphor and even resurfaced another recent favourite of the Conservative Party – an assertion that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is a “chicken” for not voting for an early general election.
“The Hulk was a winner and was extremely popular and I’d rather be backing a character and a leader who is The Hulk rather than one who is on the ‘chicken run’ as Jeremy Corbyn is,” Mr Barclay told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday.
There was also something lost in translation for the European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt, who described the Prime Minister’s Incredible Hulk comparison as “infantile” even when compared with the rhetoric of US president Donald Trump.
“Even to Trumpian standards the Hulk comparison is infantile,” he tweeted. “Is the EU supposed to be scared by this? The British public impressed?
“Is this Boris Johnson whistling in the dark?”