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Bruce Banner
Hulk
Hulk (circa 2019).png
Cover art for the comic book issue Immortal Hulk #20 (July 2019)
Art by Dale Keown and Peter Steigerwald
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance The Incredible Hulk #1 (May 1962)
Created by Stan Lee
Jack Kirby
In-story information
Alter ego Robert Bruce Banner
Species Human mutate
Place of origin Dayton, Ohio
Team affiliations Avengers
Defenders
Horsemen of Apocalypse
Fantastic Four
Pantheon
Warbound
S.M.A.S.H.
Secret Avengers
Notable aliases Joe Fixit, War, World-Breaker, Doc Green, Devil Hulk
Abilities As Bruce Banner:
  • Genius intellect

As Hulk:

  • Invulnerability
  • Superhuman strength, speed, stamina, and durability
  • Anger empowerment
  • Regeneration

The Hulk is a fictional superhero appearing in publications by the American publisher Marvel Comics. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, the character first appeared in the debut issue of The Incredible Hulk (May 1962). In his comic book appearances, the character is both the Hulk, a green-skinned, hulking and muscular humanoid possessing a vast degree of physical strength, and his alter ego Dr. Robert Bruce Banner, a physically weak, socially withdrawn, and emotionally reserved physicist. The two exist as independent dissociative personalities, and resent each other.

[[Hulk1.jpg|thumb|left|The Incredible Hulk #1 (May 1962). Cover art by Jack Kirby and Paul Reinman.]] Following his accidental exposure to gamma rays saving the life of Rick Jones during the detonation of an experimental bomb, Banner is physically transformed into the Hulk when subjected to emotional stress, at or against his will, often leading to destructive rampages and conflicts that complicate Banner's civilian life. The Hulk's level of strength is normally conveyed as proportionate to his level of anger. Commonly portrayed as a raging savage, the Hulk has been represented with other personalities based on Banner's fractured psyche, from a mindless, destructive force, to a brilliant warrior, or genius scientist in his own right. Despite both Hulk and Banner's desire for solitude, the character has a large supporting cast. This includes Banner's lover Betty Ross, his best friend Rick Jones, his cousin She-Hulk, and therapist and ally Doc Samson. In addition, the Hulk alter ego has many key supporting characters like his co-founders of the superhero team the Avengers, his queen Caiera, fellow warriors Korg and Miek, and sons Skaar and Hiro-Kala. However, his uncontrollable power has brought him into conflict with his fellow heroes and others. Despite this he tries his best to do what's right while battling villains such as Leader, Abomination, Absorbing Man and more.

Lee stated that the Hulk's creation was inspired by a combination of Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Although the Hulk's coloration has varied throughout the character's publication history, the most usual color is green.

One of the most iconic characters in popular culture, the character has appeared on a variety of merchandise, such as clothing and collectable items, inspired real-world structures (such as theme park attractions), and been referenced in a number of media. Banner and the Hulk have been adapted in live-action, animated, and video game incarnations. The character was first played in a live-action feature film by Eric Bana. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the character was portrayed by Edward Norton in the film The Incredible Hulk (2008) and by Mark Ruffalo in the films The Avengers (2012), Iron Man 3 (2013) in a cameo, Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Captain Marvel (2019) in a cameo, and Avengers: Endgame (2019). Ruffalo will reprise the role in the upcoming Disney+ series What If...? (2021) and She-Hulk (2022).

Concept and creation

The Hulk first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #1 (cover dated May 1962), written by writer-editor Stan Lee, penciled and co-plotted by Jack Kirby, and inked by Paul Reinman. Lee cites influence from Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the Hulk's creation:

It was patently apparent that [the monstrous character the] Thing was the most popular character in [Marvel's recently created superhero team the] Fantastic Four. ... For a long time, I'd been aware of the fact that people were more likely to favor someone who was less than perfect. ... It's a safe bet that you remember Quasimodo, but how easily can you name any of the heroic, handsomer, more glamorous characters in The Hunchback of Notre Dame? And then there's Frankenstein ... I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the Frankenstein monster. No one could ever convince me that he was the bad guy. ... He never wanted to hurt anyone; he merely groped his torturous way through a second life trying to defend himself, trying to come to terms with those who sought to destroy him. ... I decided I might as well borrow from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as well—our protagonist would constantly change from his normal identity to his superhuman alter ego and back again.

Kirby, commenting upon his influences in drawing the character, recalled as inspiration witnessing in person the hysterical strength of a mother lifting a car off her trapped child.

Lee has also compared Hulk to the Golem of Jewish mythology. In The Science of Superheroes, Gresh and Weinberg see the Hulk as a reaction to the Cold War and the threat of nuclear attack, an interpretation shared by Weinstein in Up, Up and Oy Vey. This interpretation corresponds with other popularized fictional media created during this time period, which took advantage of the prevailing sense among Americans that nuclear power could produce monsters and mutants.

In the debut, Lee chose grey for the Hulk because he wanted a color that did not suggest any particular ethnic group. Colorist Stan Goldberg, however, had problems with the grey coloring, resulting in different shades of grey, and even green, in the issue. After seeing the first published issue, Lee chose to change the skin color to green. Green was used in retellings of the origin, with even reprints of the original story being recolored for the next two decades, until The Incredible Hulk vol. 2, #302 (December 1984) reintroduced the grey Hulk in flashbacks set close to the origin story. An exception is the early trade paperback, Origins of Marvel Comics, from 1974, which explains the difficulties in keeping the grey color consistent in a Stan Lee written prologue, and reprints the origin story keeping the grey coloration. Since December 1984, reprints of the first issue have displayed the original grey coloring, with the fictional canon specifying that the Hulk's skin had initially been grey.

Lee gave the Hulk's alter ego the alliterative name "Bruce Banner" because he found he had less difficulty remembering alliterative names. Despite this, in later stories he misremembered the character's name and referred to him as "Bob Banner", an error which readers quickly picked up on. The discrepancy was resolved by giving the character the official full name "Robert Bruce Banner."

The Hulk got his name from a comic book character named The Heap who was a large green swamp monster.

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