The Incredible Hulk is a fictional character, a superhero who appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the character first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #1 (May 1962).
He is a gigantic, green, irradiated, mutated humanoid monster with incredible strength and an inability to control his rage. The Hulk is sometimes characterized as hyper-aggressive and brutal, other times as cunning, brilliant, and scheming. He is often portrayed as an antihero. The Hulk is cast as the emotional and impulsive alter ego of the withdrawn and reserved physicist Dr. Bruce Banner. Lee said the Hulk's creation was inspired by a combination of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Frankenstein.
He has two main catchphrases: "Hulk is strongest there is!" and the better-known "HULK SMASH!"
Bruce Banner has the gamma-induced ability to transform into his alter-ego, the monster known as the Hulk. Conditions which have triggered the transformation vary: initially, it was the sunset when the Hulk assumed form, and the dawn when Banner reverted. Later, the transformation would be triggered by an intense rush of adrenaline. Banner has found himself in various distinct forms, based on facets of Banner's personality: Banner himself but repressed emotionally. a green-skinned Hulk with the mind of a child and fueled by rage, a grey-skinned Hulk with Banner's intelligence but limited morals, and a green-skinned Hulk with a balanced merger of all of the above.
Banner's Hulk-form possesses a monstrous frame and visage, great strength, invulnerability, and superhuman regenerative abilities. The Hulk's powerful leg muscles provide him with phenomenal leaping ability, mimicking near-flight capabilities in terms of sheer distance. In times of great stress, the Hulk's physiology is fueled by adrenaline, so that the longer Hulk fights, the greater his strength increases.
As the Hulk, Banner has exhibited a wide range of other powers as well. He has proven able to see and touch astral forms as if they were real, an ability due to the effects of gamma radiation somehow in conjunction with the fact that Bruce accidentally killed his father and he believed that he would come back to seek revenge. He also has a homing ability that helps him to locate people while tunneling underground or sense the area they are in which borders on the supernatural. Due to a mystic air around him, it is suggested the Hulk has an untapped potential yet to be revealed.
Robert Bruce Banner was born in Dayton, Ohio, to Dr. Brian and Rebecca Banner. As a child, Bruce was abused by his alcoholic father, who killed his wife when she and Bruce tried to escape from one of his drunken rages. Later, Bruce was raised by his aunt when his father became institutionalized. Burying his emotions throughout his childhood, Banner had developed over time a deep and repressive personality.
A genius in nuclear physics, Robert Bruce Banner went to work for the United States Defense Department nuclear research facility at Desert Base, New Mexico. There, Banner met General Thaddeus E. "Thunderbolt" Ross, the Air Force officer in command of the base, and Ross' daughter Betty. Banner and Betty Ross eventually fell in love with each other. Banner designed and oversaw the construction of the "gamma bomb" or "G-bomb," a nuclear weapon that had a high gamma radiation output. At one point, Bruce's father was released from his mental facility. Reluctantly Bruce agreed to let his father live with him, although he again acted belligerently towards Bruce. On the anniversary of his mother's death, Bruce visited her grave but was attacked by his father. Fighting back, Bruce accidentally killed his father by causing him to fall and crack his skull on Rebecca's tombstone. Bruce repressed the memory of his actions and the police dismissed the death as a random mugging.
Banner was present in the instrumentation bunker at the test site for the first underground trial detonation of the gamma bomb. Observing that a civilian had breached security and entered the restricted test area, Banner told his colleague Igor Starsky to get the civilian to safety. Starsky, secretly a Soviet agent, did nothing. He was confident that Banner would die in the explosion, bringing the project to a halt. Reaching the civilian, a teenager named Rick Jones, Banner threw him into a protective trench. Before Banner could get himself to safety, the gamma-bomb detonated, and intense waves of radiation hit the surface. Banner was irradiated with highly-charged radioactive particles.
At first, Banner changed into a gray-skinned yet intelligent behemoth at sunset (dubbed "the Hulk" by a spectator) and reverted to human form at dawn. For a short time, Bruce could control the transformations using gamma radiation projectors in his secret desert laboratory, maintaining rudimentary intelligence in the Hulk's alter ego. Even so, the Hulk became a green-skinned monster possessing little of Banner's memory or intelligence and easily enraged. Hence, the Hulk became a menace, continually hunted by the military force commanded by the implacable Thunderbolt Ross. The Hulk was joined by Rick Jones, who felt responsible for Banner's condition. After some time, however, Jones left the Hulk.
Still tracking the Hulk's activities, Rick Jones attempted to send the hero team Fantastic Four after the Hulk, but the trickster god Loki sent the message to the thunder god Thor and other heroes. Initially battling the Hulk, the heroes instead joined him in defeating Loki and, together, they founded the hero team Avengers. Still easily excitable, however, the Hulk left the Avengers almost as soon as he joined them, believing his teammates were unappreciative of him after a battle with the Space Phantom.
Soon, Banner's transformations into the Hulk were triggered by the release of adrenaline when he became intensely excited, no matter what time of day or night it was. By this time the Hulk lost his intelligence and became a brutish "savage" menace. Banner would often wander the country with Rick Jones as his sidekick, as the Hulk was chased by Ross' government task force, the Hulkbusters, as well as the gamma radiation-spawned Abomination and the Leader, among other villains. For a surprisingly long time, Banner managed to hide the fact that he was the Hulk, but his secret became public knowledge when Rick Jones, believing the Hulk was killed by the government, was tricked by General Talbot into revealing the truth.
The Hulk would often find himself in amazing situations, both aiding and fighting super-human heroes and villains, and even visiting other planets and dimensions. One place where the Hulk was welcome was the sub-atomic world ruled by a princess named Jarella. She saw something of the child-like gentleness of the Hulk, and the two were, after a sort, in love. But tragedy struck when Jarella returned with the Hulk to Earth and surrendered her life to protect a child. For years, Banner wandered the world as a fugitive, cursed by his recurring transformations into the bestial Hulk.
Later, after one adventure in outer space, the Hulk returned to Earth via a gamma-powered transporter beam used by the extraterrestrial called the Galaxy Master. Somehow, this allowed Banner to control his transformations into the Hulk and retain his personality. Banner then decided to use the Hulk’s strength to aid humanity instead of continuing his treatments to cure himself from becoming the Hulk. After proving his intentions to the world by defeating the villainous U-Foes on national television, the public was impressed by the Hulk's demeanor. Banner received a Presidential pardon for his previous rampages as the Hulk and was proclaimed a hero and accepted by virtually all of the super-powered adventurers and the world as well. Betty refused to accept Banner's decision, in that he ceased his attempts to eliminate the Hulk alter ego, and distanced herself from him.
Katherine Waynesboro, an agent of the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D., was sent to monitor Banner’s activities but began to fall in love with him. Suspicious of her at first, Banner eventually reciprocated her feelings, especially after he rescued Katherine from the clutches of the villain Modoks. Katherine then resigned from SHIELD to be with Banner and assist him in gamma radiation research for humanitarian purposes.
Soon afterward, the Savage Hulk Hulk personality began to reassert itself during the Hulk's various adventures, due to the machinations of the demon Nightmare, who had begun weakening Banner's dominance through his dreams. The savage Hulk ultimately tried to defeat Nightmare's archenemy, the sorcerer supreme Doctor Strange. Strange defeated the Hulk but Banner's personality, ashamed of the savage personality and unwilling to share its activities, retreated entirely, leaving the Hulk virtually mindless. Doctor Strange transported the mindless Hulk to a dimensional crossroad, from which point the Hulk could travel from dimension to dimension. (Strange hoped that the Hulk would find a world that he would be content to live on.) After several months, the Hulk returned to Earth when Banner's college friend and fellow scientist, Walter Langkowski (a.k.a. the Canadian hero Sasquatch), accidentally found him with a device that monitored other dimensions. At this point, Banner once again was able to assume control of the Hulk through subconscious cooperation of the other personas.
Later, scientist Leonard "Doc" Samson captured the Hulk and succeeded, through a process which drained Hulk of excess gamma radiation, in separating Banner's psyche and thus making Banner and the Hulk two separate beings. The Hulk, free of Banner's moderating influence, escaped and became a greater menace than ever before. Banner became the leader of a new government task force to capture the Hulk, called the new Hulkbusters. Banner also married Betty Ross, believing himself free from the curse of the Hulk.
Eventually, Doc Samson discovered that Banner's life force was tied to that of the Hulk, and that their continued separation threatened to kill both of them. A hurried experiment reunited the two in a new arrangement: the Hulk was now gray once more and again manifested himself only at night. Moreover, General Ross had tried to sabotage the machine, wanting to kill the Hulk, but Rick Jones helped thwart his plans even though he became involved in the experiment. Thus, Rick would transform, similar to Banner, into the green-skinned savage Hulk at nightfall. (Rick was later cured by the Leader on behalf of Banner.)
The grey Hulk possessed all of Banner's intelligence, although few of his specific memories, and none of Banner's morality. He sought to keep himself alive and in control. Only during the full moon, when enough reflected sunlight hit the Earth to bring out some of Banner's buried personality, would the Hulk have any kind feelings whatsoever. The Hulk again ran afoul of the Leader, who proceeded to trap the Hulk in an enclosed area with a detonating gamma-bomb. Coincidentally, the Hulk was simultaneously brought to Jarella's world, narrowly escaping the effects of the gamma-bomb. The Hulk found himself embroiled in a religious war and agreed to assist one side of wizards in return for their preventing Banner from ever surfacing again.
Returned to Earth, the Hulk adopted the identity of "Joe Fixit," and sought employment in Las Vegas as a "leg-breaker." He joined with casino owner Michael Berengetti and the two shared a tenuous friendship. The Hulk managed to convince most of his associates that his gray skin was some racial characteristic. Later, however, the Banner-suppressing spell wore off. Again, the Hulk appeared only at night, with Banner, claiming to be Joe Fixit's half-brother, dominant during the daylight. During this time, Joe Fixit began a romantic relationship with Marlo Chandler (later, Marlo Jones), although Bruce was still technically married to Betty. Marlo later ended the relationship, growing uncomfortable with the secrets Fixit would keep from her.
Betty, along with the rest of the world, believed Bruce to have died in his encounter with the Leader, and she was training to become a nun. Banner learned of Betty's whereabouts during the Hulk's encounter with the villain Madman, and was soon reunited with her, but not before the green-skinned savage Hulk reappeared as well, in an encounter with the hero Prometheus. Banner and Betty searched for Rick Jones and were similarly reunited, as was the Hulk with Rick's new girlfriend Marlo.
Eventually, various personalities of the Hulk began to war among each other. Banner, just as he was coming to accept the idea of the Hulk being a permanent part of his life, began to transform into the green-skinned "Savage Hulk", just as the gray "Mr. Fixit" began to prematurely change into Banner. This culminated in a "battle" between the various psyches in Banner’s mind while the Hulk's body began changing rapidly in the physical world to reflect the mental battle. Doc Samson felt that if such mutations were to continue it would eventually kill Bruce from the physical strain. After extensive therapy from the combined talents of Doc Samson and the criminal hypnotist Ringmaster, the Hulk emerged with the three different personalities fused to one whole.
Soon after, the Hulk was contacted by the enigmatic leader Agamemnon to join his clandestine hero team Pantheon, who felt the currently "merged" Hulk/Banner would make the team better equipped to take on super-powered menaces around the world. The Hulk served with the Pantheon for a long tenure. During this time, his relationship with Betty became strained. She was not comfortable with the "merged" persona nor did she agree to live at the Pantheon's headquarters with the Hulk. At one point, when Agamemnon left to travel the world, the Hulk took the mantle of leadership. Agamemnon may have had some specific purpose for this, but it was never fully revealed. The Hulk remained with the Pantheon for several adventures although he participated in many of his own, such as his encounter with his future self, the Maestro. Over time, the Hulk and Betty's relationship improved.
After many months, the Pantheon saught Agamemnon after a falling out with their former leader, and in the subsequent battle Agamemnon called down the fury of "The Endless Knights," spirits of Pantheon members who had previously died. The ensuing battle destroyed the Pantheon's headquarters and resulted in the deaths of Agamemnon and another Pantheon member named Achilles. Also, when Betty was fatally wounded, the Hulk lost control over his form and the savage Hulk reassumed control. Returning physically to Banner's alter ego, Banner was remanded to SHIELD custody and Betty was hospitalized. Escaping, Banner would return to the Pantheon only to learn that some of the Pantheon members, most notably Paris, blamed the Hulk for its troubles and told him he was no longer welcome.
At some point, the Hulk snuck Betty out of the hospital that she was in and they began living as fugitives. They eventually settled in Sunville, Florida under assumed identities. The Hulk managed to keep their identities secret despite several adventures in Florida and New York. Eventually, however, Betty was captured by the U.S. Army's Matt Talbot who succeeded in capturing the Hulk despite the re-emergence of the Hulk's fractured personalities.
Betty was freed by the Leader's former lackeys, collectively known as the Headshop. Betty and the Headshop, in turn, freed the Hulk, but in the process, the Hulk jumped on a live grenade, which left him with shrapnel in his brain and a subsequent penchant for turning into a physical alter ego of the Maestro. The Headshop brought Hulk into conflict with Omnibus, who tricked the Hulk to assume his Maestro alter ego and claim leadership of a worldwide terrorist organization, the Alliance. When Omnibus was revealed as the true terrorist leader, the Hulk was believed to have died in the final battle, when the Maestro-Hulk was hit with an atomic bomb. Nevertheless, Doc Samson and the U.S. Army began a search for the Hulk.
Later, the Hulk was used by the psychic entity Onslaught to fight the mutant Cable. Cable managed to turn the tables on Hulk and he agreed to join fight against Onslaught. Onslaught managed to physically separate the Hulk and Banner once again. Banner seemingly sacrificed himself to contain the energies that made up Onslaught but was actually shunted to another dimension created by Franklin Richards to save his father (Mister Fantastic) and the other victims of Onslaught. In this universe, Banner once again became the Hulk by re-living a variation of his origin.
Separated from Banner, the Hulk in the prime reality nevertheless remained intelligent if somewhat savagely emotionally unstable. The Hulk was briefly captured by the Army, but he escaped. Confronted by Betty, the Hulk refused to acknowledge her and left. The Hulk joined a formative, new version of the team Heroes for Hire, but his anti-social behavior and the fact that he was among those blamed for the deaths of Onslaught's victims prompted the Hulk to leave New York. He was also contacted by the Pantheon to rejoin their number, but he refused. He began wandering the Earth again, ranging from New Mexico to the Florida Keys and even Antarctica. The Hulk continued to grow more unstable, even to the point of seeing hallucinations of his father’s ghost.
He was then abducted by the villain Apocalypse, brought to Egypt, and subjected to experiments and rhetoric to turn him into one of Apocalypse’s Horsemen-- War. The Absorbing Man took Rick Jones and Betty to Egypt to talk the Hulk out of this new role, and the Absorbing Man, and later the Juggernaut, fought the Hulk. The Hulk succeeded in defeating them both and was about to kill them when Rick Jones tried to stop him. The Hulk swatted Rick aside, and Rick slammed into the wall of a pyramid, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Realizing what he had done, the Hulk tore the Apocalypse's implants out of his skull and leaped away, ashamed.
The Abomination attacked the Hulk who had made his way to New York, but he was brutally defeated. Previously, Betty Banner had learned that her long association with the Hulk had left her dying from gamma radiation poisoning. The Abomination, out of revenge for his brutal defeat by the Hulk, learned of this and then somehow used a transfusion of his own gamma-radiated blood to poison her, and Betty died.
Due to the fact that he existed in both the prime reality and the one created by Franklin Richards, the Hulk had become a type of physical "gateway" between the two dimensions, which boosted the Hulk’s strength but also would have gradually killed him. With the hero Spider-Man, the Hulk was taken to Franklin’s universe by the Celestial Asthema. The two versions of the Hulk battled, and it was revealed that Franklin’s universe had to be destroyed. After returning to the prime reality with the other victims of Onslaught, Banner and the Hulk found themselves once again the same physical being. Crash-landing at Gamma Base, Banner again turned into the green "Savage Hulk" during periods of rage and/or intense adrenaline rush. He began to wander the country once more, at one point battling the Abomination in revenge of Betty’s death.
More recently, Banner discovered he was dying of a degenerative disease and began to exhibit a new personality when transforming into the Hulk. This "Devil Hulk" claimed to be a pure evil version of Banner’s nature, using Banner’s debilitating condition to take control of the Hulk’s body. It was further revealed by Doc Samson that Banner’s psyche is fragmented into thousands of personalities, some more dominant than others are. Samson had lied when creating the so-called "merged Hulk," using an idealized version of Banner’s self instead of truly merging separate personalities.
Bruce Banner's father, Brian, was abusive to Bruce because he was convinced his son must be a mutant due to his (Brian's) radiation work; he also was jealous of the attention Bruce received from his mother. Bruce's mother protected him during his father's fits of rage. Once his mother tried to run away with Bruce, and his dad accidentally killed her by smacking her across the face with great force.
Bruce had a stillborn child with his first wife, Betty Ross Banner (who became the Red She-Hulk in the 2010 comics). He has two sons with his deceased second wife Caiera Oldstrong on the planet Sakaar named Skaar and Hiro-Kala and a daughter named Lyra with Thundra the warrior woman. Since childhood, Banner has been close to his cousin, Jennifer Walters, who in adulthood became the She-Hulk.