Hancock is a movie 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. 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".
- Acceptable Feminine Goals: Mary's happiness is in being a loving mother and wife, despite her abilities.
- Sort of justified in that she had never had much of a normal family life around Hancock, and was Really 700 Years Old.
- 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 at the start of the film. He grows out of it with Ray's help.
- Arc Words: More like arc symbolism. Hancock's tends toward wearing clothing and/or jewelry with eagles on them. Ray notices this, and when he gives Hancock his uniform, it too bears an eagle.
- 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 on, 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: Both Smith and Theron's characters get pissed when someone calls them an "asshole" or "crazy", respectively.
- Big Applesauce: Where Hancock chooses to set up his new life after leaving Mary alone in L.A.
- Bittersweet Ending: Hancock doesn't get to be with Mary at the end, even though they were apparently made for one-another. But he's alive, and she's alive, and she's with a good man whom she cares about and he's doing what he likes doing, and they both know each other is okay.
- Black Comedy: The first Act anyway. The original scripts were this, but the addition of the second plotline removes the comedy at the end.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cerebus Syndrome: Remember the goofy first half of the movie where Will Smith is a Jerkass superhero? That sort of goes away for a while...
- Civvie Spandex: After Hancock's rehab and time in prison, he wears this during the first climax, causing some bemused stares from the SWAT on the scene.
- Comes Great Responsibility: Most of the movie revolves around Hancock cleaning up his act.
- Deadpan Snarker: Do you really need to be told?
- 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: Pretty much the point of
the moviethe first half or so of the movie.
- Determinator: Hancock proves to be one, especially after he loses his powers.
- Disproportionate Retribution:
- Hancock shoving people's heads up asses.
- Mary, who rather then tell Hancock what was going on after they first meet, she flings him out of her house and into the street.
- 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.
- Eagle Land: The television host who proclaims that Hancock is not as strong as the US Constitution... yeah, right
- Easy Amnesia: Subverted. Hancock was attacked with his wife and had his skull fractured, leaving him in that state.
- Eternal Love: Hancock and Mary.
- Executive Meddling: Just read the original script, which can be found online. The entire second half of the movie, starting with Hancock explaining his origins, is basically tacked on as if from a different movie.
- 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.
- And Super Strength taken to ridiculous levels. Hancock would have exerted 33 and a third million Newtons to stop that train.
- French Jerk: Michel. He gets flung upwards.
- 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.
- It helps they were actually Godlike, and called Gods since the beginning of time.
- Genre Savvy When Hancock goes to prison, he quickly figures out why all the other prisoners are giving him the stink eye.
Hancock Oh I get it, I put some... well most of you guys in here. I can understand you feeling some way about that.
- Genre Shift: It goes from a Black Comedy (Act 1) to a Buddy Film (Act 2) to a Drama (Act 3).
- Good Is Not Nice: Hancock. Mary.
- Groin Attack: Hancock breaks free from a chokehold in this way in the final fight.
- Halfway Plot Switch: See the hidden spoilers. There are actually three plots going on and the primary one (Hancock becoming a good hero and not an angry jerkass hero) is left behind just after the bank robbery.
- Hero Insurance: Hancock initially pisses off most of Los Angeles by causing collateral damage.
- He's been apparently doing that for years.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: It's the movie's premise! Ray's purpose in the plot is to fix this.
- Holding Out for a Hero: This is Ray's plan to fix Hancock's bad publicity by having him go to jail to "remind them that they need you".
- Hook Hand: Red.
- Hot Stepmom: Mary.
- 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. Apparently, 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 she unloads 3000 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.
- 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 an apartment fire.
- Missing Mom: Ray's first wife died shortly after giving birth to his son.
- Movie Superheroes Wear Black: The suit he gets later on is black leather.
- 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. Ray is also seemingly 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?
- 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?
- 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 1930s Florida because he's with a white woman.
- 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, willingly serving prison time for instance.
- 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.
- 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 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 irresponsibility interferes with this plan by causing them both to break up and get back together every century or so. An attack while the two are depowered leads to Hancock becoming amnesiac, and Mary leaving to marry Ray and live a normal life.
- 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: Arguably, the people who insist on taunting Hancock, apparently failing to remember that he can crush their skulls like grapes. As are 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.
- Trailers Always Spoil: Later trailers and the DVD cover all spoil the twist that there's another superhuman.
- The Unfair Sex: Hancock even calls Mary out on this.
- Untrusting Community: Justified. He deserves it.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Hancock's only weakness? His real wife. Any attempt to live a loving, fulfilling life with his wife of three thousand 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.
- Wonder Twin Powers: reversed.
- What Could Have Been: The film evolved out of a much more adult script, which was known mostly for its concept of a superhero who can't have sex because his ejaculations blow his lovers up (an argument first proposed in Man of Steel, Women of Kleenex)). A scene along those lines was included in the extended edition of the film.
- Of course, those who bemoan the "loss" of this original concept rarely explain exactly how they were supposed to get an entertaining movie out of the single concept of "superhero cumshots".
- What the Hell, Hero?: The premise.
- 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'd become mortal to be together and die together.
- Living Forever Is Awesome: they decide to split premanently because Hancock and Mary don't want this to happen to themselves. Hancock, for instance, wants to be a super hero forever.
- Would Hurt a Child: Hancock. He throws a child into the stratosphere and catches him before he hits the ground, safe and unharmed.