The Hulk is a character featured in publications by Marvel Comics. He is the alter ego of Dr. Bruce Banner, an emotionally repressed scientific genius who transforms into the musclebound embodiment of his own unstoppable rage whenever he gets angry. Though for all intents and purposes a superhero, it would be more accurate to describe him as a Force Of Nature: While Banner is himself a good and conscientious man, his beastly alter ego does not share his finer reasoning skills is only able to react those who befriend or threaten him and respond in kind.
There are actually four variations of the Hulk that Banner can turn into:
- Savage Hulk: The most common Hulk persona, Banner turns into the Savage persona whenever he has high surges of adrenaline released into his body. Driven by rage, becoming stronger as he gets angrier, and reverting to Banner when he calms down. Intellectually equivalent to a small child of about five years of age, he represents Banner's inner child. His vocabulary is often limited to "Puny human!" and "Hulk smash!". Media outside of comics, such as the MCU and the Hulk TV series from the 1970s, generally tend to favor this form.
- Joe Fixit: This Hulk has gray skin and is the smallest at 900 lb. He has a normal intelligence level and something of a sadistic streak. The Banner to Fixit transformation pattern is usually similar to that of a werewolf, happening only at night and more likely to occur on a full moon. Famously had a stint as a bouncer at a Las Vegas casino.
- The Professor: A composite personality of Banner and the above two Hulks, the Professor retains Banner's genius level intellect and the Savage persona's strength (and consequently his temper). He usually wears custom clothing and once led his own superhero team, the Pantheon.
- The Maestro: The only incarnation to achieve complete control over the Banner/Hulk transformation, the Maestro is a villainous incarnation of the Hulk. This incarnation generally appears in "bad future" storylines, so is consequently depicted as older (long grey hair with a beard) and larger (as a result of further mutation). The Ghosts of the Future storyline introduced the Avengers to this persona, and their fear of it ultimately led to World War Hulk.
Robert Bruce Banner was born to Professor Brian Banner and his wife, Rebecca. While Brian was an accomplished atomic physicist, he was also an alcoholic whose mind was fractured by severe abuse by his own father as a child. Brian began to suffer severe psychotic delusions, believing that Bruce was a mutant would one day grow up to be a monster. Frightened by his violent intensity, Rebecca attempted to leave with young Bruce in tow, only for Brian to murder her as the child recoiled in fear. Bruce was subsequently raised by his aunt Susan. While Susan went to great lengths to give Bruce a normal childhood, he was haunted by his failure to save his mother. He soon developed a fascination with the hidden strengths the body occasionally taps into during high surges of adrenalin or willpower. He began to see his hidden strength manifest in the form of a hulking green giant he dubbed "the Hulk." While therapists initially considered this normal childhood imaginary friend behavior, as he entered high school he alienated many of his peers as they could hear him muttering to his imaginary friend as he wrote strange equations in his notebook.
While Banner's academic performance impressed his high school teachers, his eccentricities made him the target of relentless bullying. When Bruce insisted that he was too weak to stand up to the bullies, the Hulk took over Banner's body as he slept, planting a bomb in the school's boiler room. When Banner disarmed the bomb, he was caught. Though he expected to face arrest and expulsion, as luck would have it, it caught the attention of Major Thaddeus Ross, a United States military officer who had worked with Brian in the past. Impressed by young Bruce's engineering talents, he believed the boy could have a bright future as a weapons designer.
After graduating high school, Banner sought his engineering degree at Penn State, before transferring to the California Institute of Technology. He developed an interest in Gamma Radiation and began to think that could be the catalyst for unlocking the untapped hidden strengths within all human beings. During his senior year he was granted the opportunity to study abroad at Oxford University, where he met Tony Stark for the first time. An intellectual rivalry developed between the two, though Tony's playboy lifestyle would eventually distract him from this competition. Bruce would see earning his doctorate as a means of one-upping Tony; Bruce was a scientist while Tony was a mere engineer.
After graduating with his PhD in Nuclear Physics, Ross, newly promoted to Brigadier General, recruited Banner as a civilian consultant for the Defense Department Research Facility in New Mexico. His superiors had been very impressed with Banner's research into gamma radiation, and hoped it could be converted into a powerful weapon that could instill fear in the hearts of America's enemies. Though Banner had misgivings, he reluctantly agreed, hoping that it would pave the way to government funding for his own research, and a mutual attraction had been growing between him and Ross' daughter, Betty. Nevertheless, he found himself foundering when he was making the pitch to his potential sponsors - he was saved only when Stark, now a Defense Contractor, stood by Banner's work. However, Stark also used this opportunity to point out ways that the warhead could be improved, putting a strain on their friendship. During a test detonation overseen by Ross' own superior, General John Ryker, Banner notices a teenage civilian, Rick Jones, wandering into the top secret test site and takes it upon himself to delay the test to get him to safety. Banner's assistant Igor, jealous of Bruce and eager to impress Ryker, pressed the option to start the bomb. Banner was able to push Rick into a protective trench before the bomb detonated, at the cost of getting irradiated himself. Due to an unknown genetic factor in his body, the gamma radiation did not kill him, but instead altered his body chemistry: whenever he became angry, excited, or outraged, a startling metamorphosis would occur...
Banner's first transformation into the Hulk occurred the night after the blast. He breaks out of medical confinement and flees into the desert. Driven by rage and pursued by the military, the creature finds himself wanted for a murder he didn't commit: Dr. Banner. Stark, in one of his earliest outings as Iron Man, attempts to subdue the angry behemoth. The Hulk's rage eventually gives him the upper hand, and the Armored Avenger is only spared when Hulk realizes that he is fighting a human rather than a robot. After narrowly escaping a military task-force led by an increasingly obsessed Ross, Hulk eventually reverts to Banner the following morning. Banner subsequently created a machine called the Gamma Ray projector, which was designed to give him more control over his transformations and maintain his intellect while still in the form of the Hulk. He hid it in a special sanctuary cave and gave Rick specific instructions on how to operate it.
The Coming of the Avengers
The Hulk's penchant for Godzilla-style rampages quickly catches the attention of the fallen Aesir Loki, who sees the Hulk as a potential weapon he could use against his brother, Thor. Loki creates an illusion of a bomb placed on a railway bridge. The Hulk, in an attempt to destroy a bomb that isn't actually there, ends up critically damaging the bridge. The Hulk uses his strength to hold up the tracks long enough for a train to safely pass through. But the damage has been done, and reports of a destructive Hulk rampage flood all media. Banner's friend Rick Jones attempts to radio the Fantastic Four for assistance, figuring that their resident powerhouse, The Thing, would be evenly matched with the Hulk and could peacefully subdue him. However, Loki diverts the signal so it instead reaches Thor, in his human identity of Dr. Don Blake. Unbeknownst to Loki, the radio signal is also intercepted by Iron Man, Ant-Man, and the Wasp. The Hulk takes note of Iron Man's upgraded Model 2 armor, before noting that he is stronger than all four of them without any technology. After a pitched battle with the four heroes, the Hulk eventually joins forces with them to defeat Loki. They then decide to form a new version of the Avengers Initiative to tackle threats that are too big to handle individually.
There are tensions almost immediately, as 75% of the Avengers Mansion staff leaves, fearing the Hulk's volatile temper, and there are personality clashes between Hulk and Thor. But they are able to effectively work as a team when Doctor Doom lures them into a labrynthine fortress, full of traps tailored to each of their specific weaknesses. Tensions come to a head when a shape-shifting alien spy, the Space Phantom, infiltrates the Avengers Mansion and attempts to divide them from within. Though the Phantom is discovered and defeated, the Hulk is embittered at how his teammates treated him during the ordeal and leaves. Fearful that he may go on another destructive rampage, Iron Man attempts to convince his teammates that they track him down. The Hulk returns to the desert in New Mexico and attempts to use the Gamma Ray Projector to revert to Banner, but his rage at how the Avengers mistreated him proves too much, prompting him to again turn into the Hulk. Concerned that the Projector's failure is a sign of worse things to come, Rick contacts the Avengers. After a running battle, the Hulk narrowly escapes from them and flees to the Coast. He is found by Prince Namor, who sees the Hulk as a perfect instrument of revenge against the surface world. They form an uneasy alliance, battling the Avengers at the Rock of Gibraltar. They overpower Iron Man and disarm Thor, but neither of them are able to pick up Thor's hammer Mjolnir. The stress causes Hulk to revert to Banner and run away. Namor, now clearly outmatched, retreats by swimming into the ocean.
Banner escapes a security cordon by sneaking into the back of a truck, then fleeing into the desert when the truck stops at a checkpoint. However, the stress causes him to turn back into the Hulk. After learning that the Avengers have replaced him with Captain America, he bounds to New York seeking revenge. Taking on the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, he gives both teams some trouble before being knocked into the Hudson River and swept away by the current.
The Beast Within
As Banner's psyche fractured further, the Hulk persona gradually devolved into a bestial savage with the mind of a small child - it was as if all the repressed anger and self-hatred over his failure to save his mother had become a living personification. And this Savage Hulk had several reasons to hate Banner: "Puny Banner" failed to save their mother, the Hulk and Banner personas were both in love with Betty, and the last but certainly not least, Banner's tendency to resurface whenever the Hulk's rage subsided ultimately meant that the Hulk would never find happiness or peace.
Unable to maintain his dual identity, Banner became a fugitive, pursued by S.H.I.E.L.D. and the "Hulkbuster Task Force" led by Ross and Betty's vengeful ex-fiancee, Colonel Talbot, with Thor, Iron Man, and Thing occasionally joining in the pursuit. But his most persistent adversary was Doc Samson, a psychiatrist and gamma-powered adventurer who saw himself as a Van Helsing figure - a man of moral convictions fighting to end the Hulk's destructive rampage. Banner also found himself the target of supervillains such as the Leader, MODOK, Doctor Doom, and the Mandarin, seeking to use him as a pawn in their schemes. Banner attempted to stay out of trouble, but with so many enemies on both sides of the law, trouble inevitably found him anyway. Banner eventually attempted suicide via a machine that bombard him with a lethal dose of radiation. Unbeknownst to him, his movements were being tracked by Emil Blonsky, aka Agent R-7 of Department X (the Russian analogue of S.H.I.E.L.D.). Blonsky ended up receiving the dose intended for Banner, turning him into a creature dubbed the Abomination, who would go on to be one of the Hulk's greatest adversaries. While taking refuge in Los Angeles, Banner is reunited with his cousin Jennifer Walters, who has become a successful attorney. When she is shot by a disgruntled criminal client, Banner saves her life by giving her a blood transfusion. This mutates her into the She-Hulk, who becomes a reserve member of the Avengers.
Knowing that the Hulk is compelled to occasionally return to the site of his creation, Samson returns to the original gamma bomb test site. The Hulk arrives in short order, in a frenzied state, battling hallucinations of his greatest supervillain opponents. Samson takes advantage of the Hulk's delusional state, knocking the Green Goliath out. When he reverted to Banner and regained consciousness, Samson revealed that he had finally found a cure Banner of the Hulk. Banner was placed in a nutrient bath that separated his psyche and atomic structure from the Hulk. With Banner and the Hulk now separate individuals, Banner is put in an infirmary to recover, while the Hulk is placed in a specialized containment tank. While S.H.I.E.L.D. is eager to execute the creature, skeptical as to whether it can truly be considered alive in the first place, Samson insists that the Hulk is not mentally capable of comprehending its actions, and killing it would be an act of murder.
While the presumed mindless Hulk is being transported to a more secure facility for "disposal", Samson hijacks the transport in an attempt to save the creature. However, once the containment unit's mental dampeners are deactivated, the Hulk breaks free and goes on a rampage. Iron Man, outfitted in his Silver Centurion armor, arrives on the scene and gets an early advantage, knocking the beast off his feet, but his repulsor blasts barely even scratch him. He concludes that without Banner to tether him, there is no limit to the Hulk's rage and ferocity. Wonder Man, Hercules, and Namor arrive on the scene for backup. The Hulk fights all four of them to a standstill, prompting Iron Man to tell his teammates that they need to stop pulling their punches like they did with the old Hulk. But before they can unleash their full power on the Hulk, Samson arrives on the scene, demanding that the Avengers stand down. He asserts that this creature is his responsibility, and he will find a way to bring it in. Acknowledging that could probably not beat the Hulk without "leveling half the state," Iron Man reluctantly gives Samson a chance, but vows to step in if he fails. The Hulk flees to the desert, with Samson in hot pursuit.
Upon his recovery and release from the hospital, Banner assembles a new Hulkbuster task force to pursue the Hulk. Having recognized his mortality during the separation, he marries Betty, but during the honeymoon he falls ill and collapses; separation from the Hulk has caused his body to suffer from cellular degradation, and unless they reintegrated, he will die. The pursuit of the Hulk quickly becomes out of hand as the new Hulkbuster taskforce are angered by Samson's interference and attempt to arrest him. The resulting free for all spreads to the small town of Jericho, NM, threatening to destroy it. Iron Man and Captain America lead two teams of Avengers to intervene, with She-Hulk joining her old teammates. Tensions mount as Iron Man and Namor suggest putting down the Hulk like a rabid dog, while Captain America and She-Hulk agree with Samson's assertions that he be taken alive. When She-Hulk's attempts to reason with the creature fail, Cap reluctantly orders the team show no mercy to the beast. After a fierce battle with the Avengers, the Hulk begins to suffer from the same molecular destabilization that is killing Banner, prompting him to fall. Betty convinces Cap to spare the creature so he can be reintegrated into her husband. With help from Vision, the Hulk and Banner are once again reintegrated into a single consciousness.
Meet Joe Fixit
With Banner and the Hulk reintegrated, it soon became apparent that a new Hulk persona was born from the process. Instead of the Banner turning into the Hulk when he got angry, he had reverted to the original "werewolf cycle" style transformation where the Hulk came out at night. The Hulk now had grey skin. Considerably smarter than the Savage persona, it also had something of a sadistic streak. This article is a stub. You can help Iron Man Wiki by expanding it.
Judgment of the Illuminati
After the Hulk goes on a rampage in Las Vegas that leaves 26 people dead, Maria Hill takes Iron Man to task on how he has been handling the Hulk. By always trying to help him, rather than stop them, he and his fellow Avengers enable the Hulk and bear some responsibility for the destruction he has left in his wake. Under increased pressure to handle the "Green Menace", Iron Man convenes a session of his fellow Illuminati members at the Avengers Hydrobase. He and Mister Fantastic devise a plan launch the Hulk into space, onto a planet where he would not be a danger to everyone. The sole voice of dissent is Namor, who takes Tony and Reed to task for so easily betraying their friend, going so far as to suggest they are taking this action to prove they actually can pull it off. The argument soon devolves into Iron Man and Namor coming to blows, until Doctor Strange uses his magic to break up the fight. Namor swims away in disgust, but not before warning that the Hulk will want revenge for this betrayal, and he will be right.
Undaunted, the Illuminati put their plan into action. A Life Model Decoy of Colonel Fury contacts the Banner, telling him that a rogue AI has hijacked the Godseye satellite and is threatening to detonate all nuclear bombs in the world. He is to be launched into space to destroy the rogue program. After destroying a rogue AI, the Hulk notices that the capsule that was supposed to take him back to Earth is instead taking him further out into space. The Illuminati members appear on screen, telling Hulk that the capsule will be taking him to a lush planet full of wildlife but no intelligent life forms. They regret this deception, but conclude this is necessary in light of the threat the Hulk poses to Earth. Angered by this betrayal, the Hulk lashes out at the ship, smashing its controls and sending it off course.
World War Hulk
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Civil War II
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Powers and Abilities
The Hulk's power level ultimately varies between incarnations, but some things that do remain consistent:
- Superhuman strength and durability.
- Accelerated healing factor.
- While he cannot actually fly, he can leap to an almost suborbital height, covering a lot of ground.
- Perhaps as a result of villains such as Loki, Doctor Doom, and the Mandarin attempting to control him, the Hulk has gradually developed a resistance to telepathy. Though the level of resistance is based on his level of rage.
- He is capable of seeing ghosts and astral forms that mortal humans cannot see.
- Can generate a powerful sonic shockwave with an overhand clap.
- "Your drug of choice, Doctor... ...is rage. Over your rough childhood. Failed marriage. All the bad hands you've been dealt over the years, and you've suffered quite a string. Like most addictions, the Hulk is both cause and cure for your problems. Giving into him delivers release. At first. But then pain. Always pain."
- ―Iron Man, verbally deconstructing Banner
- "Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."
- ―Banner says this A LOT
- "All right, stupid monsters. Come and fight Hulk if that is what you want. Hulk is ready. Hulk is always ready!"
- ―The Savage Hulk
- "Red Hulk thinks Hulk is stupid. Red Hulk hurts everybody. Red Hulk likes to kill. Red Hulk is bad Hulk. Green Hulk stops Red Hulk here! There is only one true Hulk, and he is Green!"
- ―The Savage Hulk, giving an epic "Shut Up Hannibal!" moment to the Red Hulk
- "Let me guess... you're the good guy, right? And we just had us one of those good-guy-meets-good-guy-and-they-fight-on-their-first-meeting-then-team-up-against-the-bad-guys-encounter."
- ―The Professor, describing Hulk's usual interaction with other superheroes
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