"This isn't going to end well for anyone. Not me. Not you. Not the Other Guy. So I'm asking, as calmly as I can, just back away, before someone other than me gets hurt."Bruce David Banner was born in Arizona in 1972. His father, radio operator Brian Banner, took an instant dislike to his prodigal son, particularly when at 6 years old Bruce was already reading the manuals for all of Brian's radios and beginning to understand these concepts. While Bruce had a docile nature as a child, he was often tormented and subjected to physical beatings by his alcoholic father, culminating in being present when Brian murdered his mother in front of Bruce's eyes, being arrested and later sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Bruce would spend the remainder of his childhood in and out of foster homes, also spending sometime with the family of his younger cousin, Jennifer Walters. Eventually Banner would graduate high school at the age of 15 and be accepted into Kansas State University to study nuclear physics, before earning his PhD in the same from Northwestern University. Banner specialized in gamma radiation, highly energized particles normally produced by supernovas and pulsars (but also from high energy positron experiments). Bruce also earned degrees in biology, computer science, and mechanical engineering, among other scientific pursuits.
In 1998 he settled into a teach position at Empire State University, and two years later he met graduate student in pediatrics Elizabeth "Betty" Ross. The two quickly became friends after Ross' graduation, and that friendship quickly blossomed into a romantic relationship, despite the ulterior infatuation of Calvin Zabo, who remained anonymous to Betty for the most part. In 2001, Bruce and Betty were part of a team recruited by the United States military to begin researching ways of protecting civilians from a dirty bomb, or so they were initially told. In reality they were working on pieces of reassembling the Super Soldier Serum developed by Dr. Abraham Erskine during World War II. Banner was never told exactly what their mission was, but he suspected that Betty's father, General Thaddeus Ross, wasn't being entirely honest with them. For his part, Ross never trusted Banner implicitly, despite his being engaged to his daughter Betty.
In 2004, Banner's research reached a milestone breakthrough, or so he thought, and Bruce wasn't willing to wait to go through proper channels to verify his claims. He tested the serum and procedure out on himself, exposing himself to a massive burst of gamma radiation to test the effectiveness of his "anti-radiation drug", however the procedure went horribly wrong. Bruce quickly found himself transformed into a green beast-like monster that operated solely on instinct. In this initial transformation, Bruce was only transformed for a brief time before he was tranquilized and brought to a full stop, taken into military custody. His second transformation, triggered by anger, was far more effective and resulted in the unintentional injury to Betty Ross as he escaped military custody. Banner fled into the wilderness, with Thaddeus Ross swearing to bring him in.
Over the next four years, various sightings and incidents went largely unreported outside of the supermarket tabloids. Banner, consumed by grief and tormented by images of his father, did at one point attempt suicide, however the Hulk forced a transformation to prevent Banner's death. Eventually Bruce settled in Canada and began trying to find a way to cure himself of his affliction. He began corresponding with Professor Samuel Sterns at ESU, using the codenames Mr. Green and Mr. Blue respectively, in an attempt to isolate the cause of his transformations. He also began working at a logging camp at around this time in order to support himself financially and blend in with the surroundings. Unfortunately, his connection with Sterns was eventually discovered by Ross, who dispatched a specially made task force led by Capt. Emil Blonsky to try and apprehend Banner. Cornered, Bruce was forced to transform into the Hulk, who made quick work of Ross' new Task Force before departing again. Once Bruce came back to himself, his research that he had compiled had been lost. Left with little other choice, he traveled back to New York to try and regain his original research, staying with his cousin Jennifer in the process.
While in New York, Bruce couldn't resist seeing Betty again, and reconnected with her after several years apart. Much to his surprise, he found that Betty had retained much of his original research as well as some of her own in the intervening time period. However, their reunion was short lived as Blonsky and Ross intercepted them on Long Island and attempted to capture them, once again transforming Banner into the Hulk. Despite Blonsky being enhanced by Ross' Super Soldier Serum, Hulk manages to escape and take Betty with him. Once Banner recovers his sanity, they return to Empire State University seeking out Dr. Samuel Sterns, the afore mentioned Mr. Blue, to see if he had a treatment that can cure him. Sterns' treatment does manage to prevent a triggered transformation, but it needs more development to be an actual cure. However, Sterns had been diluting the blood samples Banner had been sending him for scientific research, causing Banner to want to cease work and destroy them all. Before that could be done though, a snatch and grab team tranquilized Banner and captured him, bringing him into Ross' custody.
On the helicopter ride back to Virginia, Ross told Banner that he would be dissected like a lab rat if it came down to it. However, they soon received word of a "Hulk" attacking Harlem. Quickly realizing that it was Blonsky, having transformed into an Abomination due to exposure to Banner's blood and a high dose of gamma radiation courtesy of Samuel Sterns, Banner convinced Ross to allow him to transform and fight Blonsky. Banner dropped from a helicopter and confronted the transformed soldier, and the two proceeded to destroy much of Harlem, including the famed Apollo theater. Though Blonsky was able to wound Banner, Hulk eventually choked out the behemoth, and was stopped from killing him by Betty Ross. Hulk then escaped on his own, Ross failing to give chase so he could deal with the Abomination. Much later, Bruce was seeing leaving the country for India, hopeful to try and escape pursuit from Ross and do some medical good in the world. For the next few years he stayed off the grid for the most part, performing as a medical doctor in underserved areas throughout India. Though unbeknownst to him, SHIELD had assigned Natasha Romanoff, aka the Black Widow, to keep an eye on him and keep Ross off his trail. During this time, Banner seemed to gain more control over the Hulk's personality and his transformations, but he still remained on edge most of the time.
In 2012, Banner was recruited by Romanoff and SHIELD to help them track down the Tesseract, which had been stolen by Loki and the Taskmaster, due to the fact that it emitted energy similar to gamma pulses. Banner was brought aboard the Helicarrier to set up his tracking algorithm, and later was assisted by Tony Stark in refining his search for the Cube. However, Banner was distrustful of SHIELD, particularly when he discovered a glass cell that could in theory be used to house him in case he turned into the Hulk. During a confrontation with the rest of his teammates over SHIELD's desire to use the Tesseract to reverse engineer HYDRA's weapons from World War II, the Helicarrier was attacked by Taskmaster and several villains, including Abomination, in an effort to release Loki from captivity. The explosion set off Banner and triggered his transformation into the Hulk, who then rampaged through the carrier until he was sent flying off of it by Thor and Hawkeye. Hulk landed in an abandoned warehouse near New York City, where the Tesseract was located, and transformed back into Banner. He then made his way to New York when Loki opened a portal into space, allowing the Chitauri to begin their invasion. Banner released the Hulk, who was told to smash the Chitauri much to his delight. Hulk also was the one who caught Stark as he was free-falling, after launching a nuclear missile through the portal, and revived him with a mighty roar. After the Battle of New York and the Avengers temporarily disbanding, Banner was allowed to take up residence inside Stark Tower, renamed Avengers Tower, and given a full pardon for any crimes he might have committed up to that point.
For the next few years, Banner continued to find ways to assist as best he could without turning into the Hulk. He developed Project Veronica, also known as the Hulkbuster, as a last resort in case the Hulk ever got out of control. He also rekindled a friendship with his cousin Jennifer, and tried to listen to Tony Stark's psychological problems (though that was a failure, as he isn't that kind of doctor). Banner would later be called into action to fight the remnants of HYDRA and chase the Red Skull, referring to instances of needing the Hulk as a "Code Green." Unbeknownst to him, however, Tony Stark and several others had taken measures to ennact a final protocol on the Hulk, should the worst happen, that would send him off world to an uninhabited planet. In the aftermath of Project Insight's failure, Banner did reunite with The Avengers at stopping the remnants of HYDRA. Afterwords, he helped Tony reprogram the base algorithms of an AI program they had discovered at the last HYDRA base in Sokovia called Ultron. While their initial attempts to create the program were unsuccessful, eventually trial and error did result in Ultron's creation and sentience. Ultron then attacked The Avengers (though thankfully Banner did not transform) and escaped with the Red Skull's staff. Banner then helped track Ultron down to the arms dealer Ulysses Klaue in Johannesberg.
Banner remained behind with the Quinjet while the rest of the Avengers went after Ultron. Commotion over the com system however enticed Banner out of the jet to try and see what was going on. Outside, he was eventually confronted by Wanda Maximoff, who used her powers to screw with Banner's mind, transforming him into the Hulk and letting him loose on Johannesberg. It was up to Tony Stark to use the Hulkbuster armor to try and contain the Hulk, a task which he was barely up to. Eventually the Hulk was defeated and Banner was taken away by the Avengers, despite calls for his arrest for his actions there. The Avengers holed up in Clint Barton's safehouse while Banner tried to come to grips with his actions in Johannesburg. Receiving information from Nick Fury and, surprisingly, the Red Skull, the Avengers eventually deduced that Ultron's next move would be to use the tissue regeneration cradle used by Dr. Helen Cho in Seoul South Korea. Banner remained behind and returned to Avengers Tower, eventually receiving the cradle. He initially planned to dismantle the android that was being created inside, but was convinced by Tony to help upload JARVIS matrix into the being, creating the Vision. The team began moving to stop Ultron's ultimate plan back where it began, in Sokovia, with Banner agreeing to stay on the SHIELD helicarrier and away from any kind of battle. However Banner's luck again ran out, as the Red Skull (who had been drafted by Fury to help fight Ultron) attempted to seize control of the Helicarrier. Banner was forced to transform once again into the Hulk to help the reserve Avengers fend of Red Skull's HYDRA forces. In the aftermath of the battle, the Hulk stole a Quinjet and flew away, wanting to be left alone.
The Quinjet eventually crash landed in the Nevada desert, and a reverted Bruce Banner emerged from the wreckage. He was found on the side of the road by a drifter named Rick Jones, who brought him back to his trailer in a nearby Nevada town. Once he came too, Banner caught up to speed with the lay of the land, thankful that Jones had not heard what had happened in Johannesburg. He at first thought to call Tony Stark, but thought better of it and instead called Jennifer Walters. Unfortunately, the call came at the same time Jennifer's house was being searched by SHIELD agent Glenn Talbot, who had been tasked by new SHIELD director Thunderbolt Ross to track down the fugitive Banner. Walters, along with Betty Ross and her new fiance Dr. Leonard Samson traveled to Nevada to meet with Bruce. Once there, Samson attempted to get to the bottom of Bruce's anger issues, hoping that might help him better control the Hulk. Unfortunately their sessions were cut short by Talbot's men attacking, as well as an untimely distraction from an unwanted paramour of Betty's by the name of Calvin Zabo. Bruce again turned into the Hulk and escaped SHIELD custody, but in the melee Jennifer was badly hurt and taken to a hospital.
In the Nevada desert, Bruce and Hulk had a meeting of the minds in their subconscious, with Hulk stating that he wanted to live and Bruce saying he wanted to work with the Hulk rather than against him. Eventually Bruce convinced the Hulk to trust him, and let him control the transformations more readily. Once he had transformed back into Banner, Bruce made his way to the hospital where Jennifer was staying. Seeing that she needed a blood transfusion, and that he was the only one who had her rare blood type nearby, Bruce reluctantly transferred some of his blood into Jennifer's body. He tried to escape, but was caught off guard by Betty, who had been unknowingly coerced into working with her father, Talbot and Dr. Samuel Sterns, who was now going by the name of the Leader. Banner was thusly captured. At an underground bunker, Banner was hooked up to a machine known as a Gamma Suppressor, which had been modified from its original design of keeping the Hulk at bay to rather trying to suck the gamma energy that was dormant in Bruce's cells out of him. Bruce vainly tried to transform into the Hulk, causing him great pain and stress on the machine. The Leader's plans were interrupted by a rejuvenated Jennifer Walters, who had transformed into the She-Hulk. Freeing her cousin from the gamma suppressor, Bruce completed his transformation. Unfortunately the Hulk felt that Bruce had renegged on their deal, and thus went into a blind rage. He began fighting with Zabo, who had taken a transformational formula based in part on Bruce's blood which turned him into the rampaging Mr. Hyde. Hyde and Hulk fought out of the Bunker and onto the Las Vegas strip, causing severe damage to the hotels and casinos there. Eventually Hulk defeated Zabo, but was then attacked by the Leader in a Quinjet. The result of this attack was the unfortunate death of Betty Ross, which sent the Hulk into an even angrier frenzy. She-Hulk was left to fight her own cousin, holding her own and being told to lead him to Area 51 unknowingly. Hulk was eventually forced onto a waiting ship where a gamma suppressor type weapon held him at bay long enough for the ship to launch. A video played, showing Tony Stark, Reed Richards, Black Bolt, Ross and Nick Fury, telling Hulk they were sending him to an uninhabited planet for the safety of Earth.
However, Banner's journey to the uninhabited world was interrupted by the Hulk inadvertantly steering the ship into a wormhole, a rip in space and time, which transported him to the planet Sakaar several years in the past. Upon crash landing there, both Hulk and his ship were taken to the castle of one of the warlords of the ravaged planet, known simply as the Red King. Hulk was conscripted into the Red King's army and, over the course of a few years, managed to defeat all of his enemies and help install the Red King as the undisputed ruler of Sakaar. During this time, Hulk reached an understanding with Banner on retaining control of their shared body while they are stuck on Sakaar. Also during this time, Hulk strikes up a friendship with a Kronan named Korg, an insectoid named Miek, and several others, eventually forming a group known as the Warbound Clan. The Warbound declare open rebellion on the Red King, when the warlord betrays the Hulk in an attempt to curb his growing power. The Warbound eventually dethrone the Red King, Hulk himself killing the tyrant, and establish Hulk as the new Green King, the leader of Sakaar. Hulk eventually settles down, taking a wife named Caeira, and eventually getting her pregnant. Hulk even became merciful, granting a pardon to former soldiers of the Red King who had rebelled against him. However, the Hulk's happiness was short-lived, as the ship which had brought him to Sakaar somehow malfunctioned, causing an explosion that killed Caeira and his unborn child. Furious, Hulk rebuilt a ship and set out for Earth with his Warbound to gain vengeance on his jailers.
Hulk and the Warbound first attacked the Inhuman city of Attilan, capturing their king Black Bolt in the process. Hulk then made a proclamation to the people of Earth as he flew over New York. He gave them 24 hours to turn over Tony Stark, Stephen Strange, Thaddeus Ross, Nick Fury and Reed Richards to him, before he would lay waste to the planet below. Despite a desire for quicker vengeance by Miek, Hulk continued to err on the side of caution and mercy. The Fantastic Four were the first to attempt to strike, but were easily defeated by the Warbound and Hulk. A joint group then consisting of Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Nick Fury and the She-Hulk joined in the attack, free the Fantastic Four and Black Bolt before making their way to the throne room. It was at that point that Hulk revealed he had no intention of ever reverting back to "puny Banner." The sight of his cousin, though, caused Bruce to take control of his body again, forcing a transformation for the first time in years. Hulk reemerged stronger than ever, though, when it was revealed that Miek was the one who had set off Hulk's ship on Sakaar. Angered to the point of being a Worldbreaker, Hulk was subdued both by his cousin She-Hulk, and by an orbital gamma suppressor that Stark had installed on a satellite. Banner was then captured and locked away in a deep, underground cell, kept under a constant gamma suppressor. He would remain there until the coming of Thanos and the Chitauri, where he was approached by Stark to aid in the battle. After initially rejecting him, Banner was given a message from a future version of Tony Stark which explained the situation in more detail, and further apologized for his actions, allowing Banner to overcome some of his hatred for Tony (though not entirely). Banner allowed the Hulk to return to the forefront for the battle against the Chitauri and Thanos. However in the final assault on Thanos, the Mad Titan cast the Hulk's personality out of Banner's body, giving it a body of its own. He then used the Space Stone to deposit the Hulk on the other side of the universe.
Following Thanos' defeat, a now Hulk-less Banner withdrew from the Earth again and took up residence in SWORD's orbiting satellite as a scientific advisor. However the impact that the Hulk's separation had on Banner is yet to be revealed.
In the alternate timeline of Infinity War, Banner didn't join the forces the the Heroes of Earth to fight Thanos and the Chitauri, instead remaining on Earth in his prison cell. He later turned to dust as a result of Thanos wiping out half of all life on Earth.
Powers & Abilities
- Incalculable Strength: Hulk's powers are almost immeasurable in terms of his strength. He has shown to be as strong as Asgardians, able to rip apart Ultron drones with no difficulty, and can tear down entire buildings with little effort as well. Hulk's strength is directly proportional to his anger, so the angrier he gets, the stronger he gets.
- Enhanced Durability: Likewise, Hulk's durability is innumerably increased when transformed. He also possesses a minor healing factor, though the extent of it remains untested.
- Enhanced Leaping Ability: Hulk is capable of crossing great distances by simply leaping from one place to the next. While it is not flying per se, on overland distances he can cover several miles in just a few jumps.
- Increased Intellect: As Bruce Banner, he is one of the foremost authorities on radiation, particularly gamma particles, and is well versed in most scientific pursuits. When it comes to theoretical application, even Tony Stark sometimes defers to Bruce Banner.
- Controlled Breathing and Mental Acuity: Due to the nature of his condition, Bruce has learned several breathing techniques in order to calm himself and avert an untimely transformation to the Hulk. As time as gone on, and Bruce has become more accepting of the Hulk, these techniques have been utilized less and less.
The primary weakness is that, as Bruce Banner, he is vulnerable to most kinds of physical attacks. However enough of an adrenal shock will trigger his transformation into the Hulk. As the Hulk, he possesses far less intellect than his Banner counterpart, though this has been lessened in recent years. Anger will still blind him with rage, reducing his cognitive skills even further.
As time has gone on, Bruce and Hulk have adopted two distinctive personalities, and are seemingly able to converse with one another inside their mind. While transformations are mostly voluntary now, Bruce can still transform if agitated enough, while Hulk can be transformed back into Banner if damaged enough.
As of Infinity Gauntlet, the Hulk's personality and strength have been removed from Bruce Banner.
Hulk has appeared in the following films within the Earth-11584 continuity. In all cases he is played by actor Mark Ruffalo, with Lou Ferrigno providing motion capture work in the first film.
- The Incredible Hulk (2008)
- Black Widow (2010) [mentioned only]
- The Avengers (2012)
- Iron Man 3 (2013)
- Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
- The Incredible Hulk 2 (2015)
- Captain America: Civil War (2016) [mentioned]
- Fantastic Four: Doomsday (2016) [mentioned]
- Iron Man 4 (2016) [mentioned]
- World War Hulk (2017)
- Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
- Avengers: Infinity (2019) [mentioned only]
- Avengers: Infinity Gauntlet (2019)