Robert Bruce Banner (Hulk)

hulkfilmLast character present in recent Iron Man 3 is none other than our favourite green giant, this time in his human persona: Hulk, aka dr. Bruce BannerMark Ruffalo appears in the post credit scene while sleeping at his friend Tony Stark‘s tales, apologizing saying “I’m not that kind of doctor”. The character is one of Marvel’s most popular ever, and he’s been known by the wide audience since 1970s, with the famous tv series starring Bill Bixby as Banner (renamed David Banner, since the production felt Bruce being “too gay a name”) and Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk. The series spawned four tv movies and created a huge fandom, but the character was abandoned until 2003, when Eric Bana portrayed both Banner and Hulk (thanks to CGI) in Ang Lee‘s Hulk, with the character’s origins slightly changed in order to insert some nod to genetic experiments. Finally, Hulk entered Marvel Cinematic Universe with the face of Edward Norton (later replaced by Ruffalo), and from The Incredible Hulk to The Avengers he’s evolved from a standalone destructive brute to a valuable team member…to be handled with attention. Let’s see together who the Hulk is in the comics.

Robert Bruce Banner was born the son of Brian Banner, a physicist, and Rebecca, his wife. The couple wasn’t very well-balanced, since Brian thought that having a family was the reason for him not to be recognized as a genius in his field. While Rebecca loved Bruce with all her heart, Brian despised him, and didn’t make a secret of it, quite the opposite: the more Rebecca loved her son, hulkcomics1the more Brian hated him, since he saw him as a rival for his wife’s affection. Plus, the scientist was secretly convinced that the radiation he had worked with had given him a mutant son, and Bruce grew up with the certainty of being a monster. After years of physical and psychological abuse, Brian ended up killing his wife while being completely drunk: with his mother dead and his father in jail, Bruce was adopted by an aunt, Susan Banner Drake, who wanted only to grant her nephew a normal life, at least for what she could do. Bruce interiorised all his rage and pain, and threw all of his energies into studying, becoming a real child prodigy, especially in scientific subjects. He graduated in Science High School with highest honours, and moved in NavapoNew Mexico, to study nuclear physics at Desert State University. He became in no time the star student of professor Herbert Weller, and, with his mentor’s help, he studied in many universities, among which Pennsylvania State University and California Institute of Technology. An absolute genius, Banner obtained his doctorate without any effort, and became an example for many students of his age, among which future superhero Walter Langkowski and future supervillain Philip Sterns. His intellect allowed him to find a job immediately after his studies, and the army chose him as the leading figure in a secret project in nuclear research facility in Desert Base, New Mexico. Under the authority of General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross of the Air Force, Banner developed the G-Bomb, a nuclear bomb with incredible destructive power which possessed a high gamma radiation output. He also met the love of his life, Betty Ross, daughter of the general, and the two started a relation.

It was during the first tests for his bomb that Banner’s life changed forever. A civilian, a teenager named Rick Jones, had inadvertently breached security and entered the restricted test area, just a few moments before the bomb’s detonation. Noticing the boy, Banner told one of his colleagues, Igor Starsky, to suspend the countdown, in order to have time enough to bring the teenager to safety. Unfortunately, Starsky was secretly a KGB agent, and didn’t tell anything to anyone, hoping that Banner would have died in hulkcomics2the explosion, and his incredible mind with him. Banner had just the time to reach Rick Jones and to throw him into a protective trench, before being invested by the explosion. Bruce was hit by an incredible amount of radiations, enough to kill a normal man a thousand times, but something unique in his genetic template (maybe Brian wasn’t totally wrong believing his son to be a mutant) allowed him to survive. It was immediately clear that something went wrong all the same, since Banner turned at every sunset into a gray-skinned giant who called himself “The Hulk”. Banner’s body, in a few months, adapted to the radiations, and from that moment the transformation was triggered by the adrenaline level in his body: every time he was afraid, excited, and especially when he was angry, Banner turned into another monster, this time green-skinned, who retained little or less of Banner’s memory and none of his intellect, a massive brute with a seemingly infinite strength, a danger for whoever was near to him. Clearly, General Ross tried to contain the Hulk and to use him as a weapon for US Army, but thanks to Rick Jones, who felt responsible for the incident, Banner managed to escape the soldiers’ custody. After thwarting a plan from the Russian agent known as the Gargoyle to destroy America, Banner, along with Rick, managed to keep his identity a secret, but abandoned every attempt to run a normal life the moment he understood he couldn’t fully control his “double personality”. He left Betty and his friends, and started a nomadic life, searching for a cure to his state…with little hope to get rid of the Jade Giant sleeping in his subconscious.

Bruce Banner is an absolute genius, a man who immediately understands any kind of scientific language or physical phenomenon, able to rival with other renowned geniuses such as Reed Richards, Tony Stark or Hank Pym. Despite being emotionally broken, with many traumas hidden and denied in his psyche, Banner has a naturally selfless and heroic disposition, a good heart that has made Betty Ross fall in love with him despite his shyness and taciturnity. As the Hulk, Bruce loses all of his intellect and personality (more or less, depending on the Hulk’s incarnations), and becomes an incredibly strong and durable being. The Hulk grows stronger the angrier he gets, with no limit to the physical strength he can reach, thus being one of the strongest creatures in the universe. He also possesses an accelerated healing factor that makes him virtually invulnerable, and an istantaneous adaptation that allows him to survive in any habitat (he is also able to breathe under water or to survive in open space). Being both the knight and the dragon, Bruce Banner costantly strives against himself, in a desperate effort to contain the darker sides of his personality he has always kept deeply buried in his mind, the same sides that the Hulk personifies.

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  1. […] It was during the beginning of their “career” that the evil god Loki tried to use The Hulk to defeat his step-brother Thor. Hulk’s friend, Rick Jones, tried to contact […]

  2. […] In the movie, Helen will be a Korean geneticist, a friend and colleague to Tony Stark and Bruce Banner; she’s contacted by the two scientists while she’s in Seoul researching, and will join […]

  3. […] Hulk, portrayed by John Rhys-Davies. In the tv movie, he was the true responsible of the crime David Banner was arrested for, and Matt Murdock accepted to defend Banner hoping to bring down Kingpin in the […]

  4. […] series; when three ex-stuntmen attacked the set, Karen and the others were saved by the real Hulk and by The Thing, passing by to try and solve their own problems with Hollywood. Karen’s […]

  5. […] of. As The Thing, he’s extremely durable and strong, able to stand toe-to-toe with the Hulk (at least until he gets really angry); Ben is not only virtually invulnerable, but even immortal, […]

  6. […] to understand if they could be menaces or allies, and following the destruction caused by the Hulk, they opened an inquiry on his cousin, the similarly-Gamma radiated She-Hulk. Commander Dooley […]

  7. […] of the Incredible Hulk, in which Matt Murdock (Daredevil’s civilian identity) was hired as David Banner‘s lawyer; eventually, Daredevil and Hulk team up to take down Kingpin, the one behind the […]

  8. […] the Avengers and his stepbrother Loki tried to conquer the world by manipulating the Hulk, it was only about time before S.H.I.E.L.D., world’s most powerful counter-espionage agency, […]

  9. […] a little bit different than usual: portrayed by Nick Nolte, his secret identity was the one of Bruce Banner‘s father David, who became the Absorbing Man after trying to replicate the incident that […]

  10. […] believed they were; she was about to abandon her primary source of inspiration when she found the Hulk, a massive green human who soon became quite a fascination for the Krylorian director. She made […]

  11. […] and by words on the streets, he’ll be created by Tony Stark (maybe in cooperation with Bruce Banner), but he’ll not be the nice robotic butler everyone expected, of course, nor a decent […]

  12. […] a time-traveling group of superheroes composed of Dr. Strange, Namor the Sub-Mariner, Hulk and Silver Surfer, from the XX Century. Together, the two teams managed to defeat Drang’s […]

  13. […] gave up the army to become a bioscience executive for some private company: he tries to hire both Bruce Banner and Betty Ross in his same company, and later on he kidnaps the first one to try and make an […]

  14. […] and HYDRA revealed itself to the world. Zola fought many heroes from time to time, trying to steal Dr. Bruce Banner‘s work on Gamma Radiations and ending up facing the Hulk, or clashing with Irish […]

  15. […] just “for fun”. When the leader of the sect, Van Nyborg, set up a plan to use the Hulk to destroy the Dark Crawler, a guardian spirit, Barbara tried to stop him, with the only result […]

  16. […] the zoo’s walls, and the creatures inside it were released on Earth. Only an alliance between Hulk, The Thing, Beast and Giant-Man managed to stop the monsters, and to lock them into […]

  17. […] first interaction with the outside world happened when the Hulk, who had just battled the Galaxy Master, was teleported on Halfworld. There, a chrisis was […]

  18. […] had his strength more than doubled. His first task, once out of jail, was to kidnap the scientist Bruce Banner and to force him develop weapons for the Russians…unfortunately Banner transformed into […]

  19. […] all, with the grief and guilt haunting him for the rest of his life. When an Earthling monster, Hulk, was exiled from his planet and sent to Sakaar, Korg found himself in his same cell block, and the […]

  20. […] wielding the power of many gods at once. Its strength easily surpasses Thor’s or even Hulk‘s one, its defense is impenetrable, and also its speed, both in running and in flying, are […]

  21. […] command (the two settled down their mutual despisal by going together on a two-men mission against Bruce Banner, aka The Hulk). Hand followed Osborn in almost everyone of his illegal maneuvres: shooting down a […]

  22. […] Thor and Iron Man) and a couple of “monsters”, as they say. One is the lovely Hulk, the other one…is the ugly and bad version of him, the Abomination. He appeared in The […]

  23. […] him. Captain America woke up to meet his saviors: Iron Man, Thor, Giant-Man, the Wasp and Hulk, the founding Avengers, who asked him to join their ranks. Rogers accepted, always eager to fight […]

  24. […] time discussing about their favourite comicbooks, taking matters such as who was stronger between The Hulk and The Thing very seriously. During one of their discussions in a direct market, Dave asked his […]

  25. […] he fought and defeated the evil tyrant Mogul of the Mystic Mountain, challenged the powerful Hulk (even if he was defeated) and also dared to challenge the lord of demons Mephisto to save […]

  26. […] Thor became attached to Earth, Loki started attacking our world, trying to manipulate the powerful Hulk for his plans, only obtaining to create a threat dangerous enough to force some of the most […]

  27. […] himself worthy of entering the godly realm of Asgard. and he battled and then allied himself with Hulk. Luckily, Marvel gave another chance to the God of Thunder with Kenneth Branagh‘s feature […]

  28. […] but the fight was interrupted the moment the combatants inadvertently drew the attention of the Hulk, who was hiding nearby. Goblin escaped from another, much more powerful green monster, and even […]

  29. […] and his wife Janet Van Dyne aka the Wasp, the Norse god Thor, and the calm scientific genius Bruce Banner, who sometimes got much bigger, greener and less-calm and called himself the Hulk. Exactly: […]

  30. […] a message from Rick Jones to the Fantastic Four, in which the boy was asking for help since the Hulk had been manipulated by Loki, Iron Man allied himself with Ant-Man, Wasp and Thor to stop […]

  31. […] attempted many times to conquer the entire planet (also by taking psychic control over the Hulk), but always failed because of Iron Man’s […]

  32. […] Hurt. The General is coming back directly from The Incredible Hulk, where he hunted down the Green Goliath all around the world, and gave birth to the Abomination in an effort to stop him. This time, […]

  33. […] with one of the most popular heroines in the Marvel Universe: She-Hulk, cousin of our beloved Hulk. Tecnically, She-Hulk never made it to the big screen, but in 1991 a movie with Brigitte […]

  34. […] completely destroyed. Wanting to fix his costume somehow, Spider-Man was pointed by Thor and Hulk to a machine inside their base, a piece of alien tech able to read the mind of the user and to […]

  35. […] unstoppable force of nature: his immense strength puts him on equal ground with a power-house like Hulk, and he is able to outmatch other strongmen like The Thing or even Thor; as long as he is the […]

  36. […] Wizard to annihilate the Fantastic Four, then again he teamed up with the Mandarin to battle the Hulk. After some years of crime, however, a traumatic experience involving Hydro-Man brought him to […]

  37. […] area, if he wasn’t paid an enormous sum of money. Unfortunately for Avalanche, in that time The Hulk was living nearby, and he didn’t like him at all: the mutant terrorist tried to fight […]

  38. […] other heroes with him (and he found out he wasn’t so immovable when put against the likes of Hulk). A brand new chapter in his life opened when Unus got killed: the loss of his friend made Blob go […]

  39. […] supporting character, this time a love interest: Betty Ross, the fiancée (and later wife) of Bruce Banner. Betty made her live action debut in Hulk, portrayed by Jennifer Connelly, where she’s a […]

  40. […] come back sooner or later (if Marvel remembers they left his storyline suspended): The Leader, Hulk‘s nemesis. His only live action appearance so far has been in The Incredible Hulk: in the […]

  41. […] he’s the computer nerd portrayed by Martin Starr who’s bribed with a pizza by Bruce Banner when he infiltrates Culver University. Well, since his mother has been introduced in Avengers: Age […]

  42. […] starting to give voice to normal people. When the Avengers finally managed to calm down a rampaging Hulk after a prolonged and difficult battle, Megan McLaren started interviewing the people who had lost […]

  43. […] Lucian Aster lived in Los Angeles, California, but nothing is known about his family or his early life. A succesful businessman and enterpreneur, he had founded a publishing house, Pan-Dimensional Publishing, specialised in books about occultism, magic and mysticism. Actually, several of the books were written by Aster himself, as he was an amateur sorcerer in the first place. Magically speaking, Lucian never accomplished much until, while trying ancient rituals, he ended up opening a portal to an unknown dimension, home of a demon, the Wild One. The Wild One promised him infinite power, and a place at his side in the new world he would have built; Aster agreed to help him arrive on Earth, and started following his instructions: he was told how to open a portal to Strange World to summon its Sorcerer Supreme, Shanzar, and ordered to find a body strong enough to be a host for Shanzar; he then had to sacrifice 666 demons and to spill the blood of  a single pure soul to release him from captivity, and to imprison a scion of Neptune as a catalyst. To provide the hundreds of demons, the Wild One taught Aster a spell to turn normal people into demons, and Lucian casted it the best way he knew: he bonded it to a book, and published it as Spelling Made Easy, the first book of necromancy for amateurs. The book was an announced success, and a lot of people bought it…but all who read it were turned into demons, ready to be collected by Aster and imprisoned waiting to be sacrificed. In the meanwhile, Aster had summoned Shanzar, and together they had identified the “scion of Neptune” with Namor the Sub-Mariner, king of Atlantis, who was amnesiac after a clash with Master Kahn. They imprisoned his mind into one of the demons, who once was Jill Walker, while Shanzar occupied Namor’s body. Everything was going as planned, if not for a detail: Namor’s mind broke free of control, and while in the demonic form he escaped and looked for help from one he knew he could trust…the Incredible Hulk. […]

  44. […] augmentable according to necessity (he’s been able to fight to a standstill even the Hulk), he’s virtually invulnerable, since his semi-solid body is nearly impenetrable to regular […]

  45. […] Strange had never trusted the Enclave to begin with, and had brought a contingency plan along: The Hulk, who intervened as soon as he heard his fellow Defender struggling. Paragon battled Hulk as well, […]

  46. […] Ross, was indeed investigating the death of the Abomination, apparently killed by the Hulk, or by someone incredibly similar to him. The Winter Guard intercepted the Americans, and tried to […]

  47. […] he’ll be the organizer of the gladiatorial games on planet Sakaar, where both Thor and Hulk will end up fighting. Nothing more is known about him as for now, apart from the fact that […]

  48. […] him in combat. He joined Amora once again in one of her games as he was put against the powerful Hulk, at least until the Enchantress grew bored of watching the two brutes fighting, and summoned an […]

  49. […] had extremely powerful mind powers), Charlie America (Captain America), the Incredible Bulk (Hulk) and Giant-Sam (Giant-Man) into a brand new team, the New Paramount: Forbush Man finally had […]

  50. […] Spider-Man, who was out of his usual environment, but the battle was abruptly interrupted by The Hulk, who was hiding in that same area, forcing the trio to retreat once again. When the Enforcers […]


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