In one corner, a green giant who gets stronger the angrier he gets. In the other corner, a god of thunder with a mystic hammer that can throw lightning. Their feud goes back to the creation of Thor, when Stan Lee said he was inspired to create the Viking god because only a god could be stronger than the Hulk.
With the trailer for “Thor: Ragnarok” confirming a fight between Thor and the Hulk in the new movie, CBR is going over the 15 biggest fights between the two heavyweights. This will list their biggest canon fights, so we won’t be covering alternate realities or moments where either one was knocked out with one punch. Let’s get ready to rumble!
15. THE FIRST FIGHT
In 1963’s “The Avengers” #3, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby put Thor and Hulk up against each other for the first time. Hulk had turned against the Avengers, and his former teammates were trying to bring him under control. After Iron Man approached every other major hero for help, they turned to Rick Jones who was able to locate the Hulk. The Avengers tracked him to New Mexico, where he jumped aboard a speeding train.
The first fight between Thor and Hulk ended quickly when Thor attacked Hulk on the train, but Hulk quickly ripped up some railroad tracks to tie Thor up with and escaped. Afterwards, Namor contacted Hulk and offered to team up, since they both shared a mutual hatred of the human race. The two of them grabbed Thor, and Hulk tried to grab Mjolnir, but the enchantment wouldn’t let the jade giant lift it. It wasn’t much of a fight, but it set the stage for later.
14. TEST OF STRENGTH
Who’s stronger, Thor or Hulk? That’s been the question since Thor’s first appearance in 1962’s “Journey into Mystery” #83 (Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby). It turns out even Thor wanted the answer, and he seized his chance in “Journey Into Mystery” #112 in 1965 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. In the issue, Thor stumbled across some kids debating whether Thor or the Hulk was stronger, serving as stand-ins for the readers.
Thor told the kids about a previously unseen fight that took place in “Avengers” #3. At the time, Thor was under an enchantment that made him change to Dr. Donald Blake if he let go of his hammer for over a minute. To make it a fair match, Thor asked Odin to remove the enchantment for five minutes so he could fight without it. Hulk and Thor fought ruthlessly with Hulk blowing up a WWII mine on Thor, but Thor was able to use his speed to bury the Hulk under rubble. The fight ended without settling who was stronger, but it wouldn’t be the last.
13. THE TITANS THREE
In 1971’s “The Sub-Mariner” #35 (written by Roy Thomas with art by Sal Buscema), the Hulk was part of a team called the Titans Three, made up of himself, the Silver Surfer and Namor the Sub-Mariner. The three of them were some of the most powerful beings in the Marvel universe, brought together to stop the U.N. from activating an experimental “nuclear weather station” because Namor’s scientists believed that using the machine would destroy the Earth. When the Titans showed up, the Hulk barged in without saying why he was there, and the United Nations called the Avengers.
As the two teams fought, Thor paired off with the Hulk for another battle. Thor got in the first blow with Mjolnir, but the Hulk hit him back so hard that Thor dropped his hammer, leaving him only a minute before he would change back into Blake. Fortunately, a trumpet blast by Namor’s army distracted the Hulk long enough for Thor to knock him down and get his hammer back. Once again, this came out to a draw.
In 1973, “Defenders” #10 (Sal Buscema and Steve Englehart) brought the two heroes into battle again. The two of them were after pieces of a mystic artifact called the Evil Eye. The Hulk was sent after it, thanks to a mystic command by Dr. Strange, while Thor was being sent by the Defenders. It didn’t take long for them to start fighting, and fight they did.
Thor got the first blow with Mjolnir, but Hulk didn’t even fall over. He responded by smashing the ground, throwing Hulk into the air, where the Hulk sent him flying with another punch. Hulk grabbed Thor’s cape and spun him into the ground like a corkscrew. When Thor crawled out, the fight came to a head where the two grabbed hands in a feat of pure strength. They couldn’t budge each other or even move, holding it for over an hour. Once again, the fight ended in a draw.
In 1981, “Incredible Hulk” #255 (Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema), Hulk had less purpose behind his rampage than in previous stories. He was just wandering through New York City and across the George Washington Bridge, fighting police and wreaking havoc when he changed back to Banner and hid in a railway car. When a train almost hit Banner, the stress turned him back into Hulk, which attracted Donald Blake’s attention, who summoned Thor to stop the green giant.
In this battle, the two clearly knew the stakes and spoke of their previous battles. While Hulk tried to tie up Thor in railroad ties and threw a boxcar on top of Thor, Thor resorted to his trusty hammer to pound the Hulk. When Hulk smashed the roof of an underground tunnel, Thor left his hammer behind to brace himself against it. That caused Thor to turn back into Donald Blake. Hulk escaped with Thor beaten, making him sort of the winner of the fight.
10. IN VIKING TIMES
This issue will need some explaining, because it’s the end of a long storyline where Banner gained control over the Hulk, and became a legitimate hero. He was pardoned for his crimes, and in 1983’s “Incredible Hulk” 279 (Bill Mantlo, Mark Gruenwald), Hulk found himself at the center of a huge parade and celebrations. He was even given his own adamantium statue in Central Park. Unfortunately, it all turned out to be a plot by the Leader, who scattered the Avengers throughout time.
Hulk and She-Hulk travelled through time to gather the Avengers again, and found Thor in the Viking era, leading a Viking warship in battle. Hulk tried to convince Thor to return with them, but Thor just called him cowardly and threw his hammer at him. Hulk was knocked back, but grabbed onto the hammer as it came flying back to Thor. Iron Man shone a light off the hammer onto Thor, blindly him, and ending the fight. Brief, memorable and also a draw.
Everything changed in 1984’s “Incredible Hulk” #300 (again, written by Bill Mantlo and penciled by Sal Buscema). In this issue, Dr. Strange’s enemy Nightmare caused Bruce’s control over the Hulk to be lost, leaving the green giant in a mindless rage, crashing throughout New York City. Spider-Man, the Human Torch, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, a S.H.I.E.L.D. squadron and the Avengers all came flying in to try to stop him. Hulk brushed them all off quickly, leaving only Thor with the strength to take on the Hulk.
The irony of this rampage after the streets were filled with cheering crowds for the Hulk a few moments before wasn’t lost as Thor and Hulk fought through the city and into Central Park, where Hulk picked up his own adamantium statue to throw at Thor. Thor hit it with his hammer, causing shockwaves for blocks. This one is another draw since Dr. Strange finally banished Hulk to another dimension before either was knocked out.
In 1987’s “Mighty Thor” #385 (penciled by Erik Larsen, and co-written by Jim Shooter and Stan Lee), the comic began with Hulk destroying most of a forest, which brought Thor from New York to stop him. Thor arrived at a small town where he fought the Hulk, but there were some big differences between this fight and the ones that came before it.
After all the previous fights, Hulk knew Mjolnir gave the thunder god an advantage. That’s why Hulk had the bright idea of pretending to hold a woman hostage until Thor dropped his magic hammer. That led to a massive fight where Thor actually was outmatched by the Hulk for the first time. Thor was left beaten and bloodied by the Hulk’s rage, which almost destroyed the town, but kept fighting. Facing with the threat of losing, Thor called his hammer back, which caused Hulk to jump away and escape. While there’s no clear winner, this was the first time that Thor said he needed Mjolnir to beat Hulk, giving the green giant the advantage.
7. BATTLE IN HEL
In 1995’s “Mighty Thor” #489 (Roy Thomas and M.C. Wyman), Thor had pledged to stay with Hela (the goddess of the underworld) in exchange for her sparing the Earth from invasion. Thor made his Asgardian allies promise not to get him back, so they went to the Hulk to try to get Thor out of Hel. Hulk agreed and went down into Hel to go after him. At this point, Hulk was believed to have Banner’s mind in Hulk’s body (a version now known by fans as “the Professor”) when he clashed with Thor, so he wasn’t the mindless monster of his previous fights.
In this fight, it wasn’t Bruce Banner worrying about turning into the Hulk, but the Hulk worrying about losing control and turning into Banner. The two also weren’t interested in testing their strength. The fight was so massive that they destroyed Hela’s castle, but ended when Kurse gave his life in exchange for Thor’s freedom. Another draw.
6. INFINITY CRUSADE
Most of the fights between Thor and Hulk took place on land, but one memorable fight took place in space. 1993’s “Infinity Crusade” #4 by Jim Starlin and Ron Lin was a sequel to “Infinity Gauntlet” and “Infinity War” where the Goddess (the personification of Adam Warlock’s goodness) used a “Cosmic Egg” to create a new planet called Paradise Omega. She also kidnapped and brainwashed superheroes into her own army. Thanos and Warlock worked together to stop her.
Thor was on the side of the Goddess and the Hulk fought on the side of Thanos. Thor tried to stop Thanos’ forces by hurling his hammer through the X-Men’s Quinjets. With the help of Drax, the Hulk started trading punches with Thor among the stars. Thor ended the fight by smashing Hulk’s propulsion unit, sending the jade giant flying away helplessly. This was a short fight, but we can count it on Thor’s win column.
5. ACROSS THE PLANETS
In 2001’s “Incredible Hulk Annual” #26 (written by Erik Larsen and penciled by Jorge Lucas), savage Hulk is attacked by soldiers and military vehicles, leaving the city in ruins until Thor arrives to stop him. Thor worried about innocent people being hurt, so he teleported himself and the Hulk to a distant planet and away from Earth.
The new location didn’t stop Hulk from knocking Thor into a hillside that buried him. Thor managed to dig himself out, and used his hammer to smash Hulk on the head and followed the blows with a lightning strike. That knocked out the Hulk enough for Thor to carry them back to Earth when the Hulk changed back to Banner, but Banner changed back into the Hulk who was less appreciative. Thor called up a storm to drown the Hulk, but it was Thor who broke off their fight, realizing how much damage they caused. Since both of them knocked each other out at one point, it’s kind of a draw, but Hulk definitely bested Thor when it came to strength while Thor showed more power.
4. BERSERKER THOR
In “Incredible Hulk” #440 in 1996, Peter David and Angel Medina brought a controversial moment in the fight between the two heroes. In the face of a terrorist attack from a group called the Alliance, the Hulk decided to avoid nuclear war by posing as their leader, the Maestro. In his anger, Thor (who had been powerless) slammed his hammer on the ground and got his powers back, immediately flying off to fight the Hulk.
The controversial part came when Thor said he had held back against the Hulk before, and went into this fight in a “berserker rage” that apparently made him stronger. Since Thor had many times put his full strength into his fights with Hulk, it made fans upset to say Thor could do any better. Unfortunately, this fight still turned into a draw when the U.S. military launched nuclear weapons at the two. Thor was thrown clear by Hulk, who was hit by the blast and survived.
3. FEAR ITSELF
In 2011, Marvel launched the crossover “Fear Itself,” where the Serpent (the Asgardian god of fear) tried to claim the throne of Asgard, feeling he should have gotten it instead of Thor. The Serpent used seven mystic hammers to turn different superheroes and supervillains into his army, known as the Worthy. The Hulk got one hammer, turning him into Nul, breaker of Worlds. Thing was also turned into Angrir (Breaker of Souls), but we’ll focus on the Hulk.
In “Fear Itself” #5 (by Matt Fraction and Scott Immonen), Thor tried to stop the Serpent by going to Earth and fighting the transformed Hulk and Thing at the same time. Thor had to smash through the Thing’s chest with his hammer, killing him. The Hulk was harder to beat, and Thor had to hit the Hulk so hard that the giant went flying into orbit, and collapsed. The fight is up for debate because the Hulk wasn’t himself, but Thor won this time. But at one point, Thor said he never could beat Hulk, which is a win for Hulk.
2. HULK SMASH AVENGERS
2012’s “Hulk Smash Avengers” was a series set in moments outside of the known stories, exploring the history of the Hulk. The first issue (Tom DeFalco, Ron Frenz, Sal Buscema) was set between “Avengers” #7 and #14, when the Avengers were trying to control the Hulk after he quit the team. They cornered the Hulk and tried to take him down by all hitting him at the same time: Iron Man with his repulsors, Giant-Man with his fists, and Thor with his hammer. Even after letting him have it, the Hulk was still standing.
The Avengers decided to all try to hold Hulk down, especially Thor with the handle of Mjolnir around his neck, while they tried to get some special restraints to hold him. Hulk sent them all flying, including Thor. Hulk jumped away and Thor didn’t fight him again for the rest of the issue, but Hulk (at least in this story) was stronger than Thor and all the Avengers combined.
1. THE BATTLE
2010’s “Hulk: Let the Battle Begin” was a real gamechanger between Thor and Hulk. Written by Jesse “Blaze” Snider and penciled by Steve Kurth, the story is a flashback to a fight between the Hulk, the Wrecking Crew and Thor at Mount Rushmore. Hulk beat up the Wrecking Crew, leaving Thor and the jade giant to fight on their own.
Mjolnir has always been a major factor in fights between Thor and the Hulk, and Hulk’s main goal in their battles has been to get rid of the hammer or use it himself. Hulk usually can’t lift Mjolnir because of the enchantment, but in this fight, the Hulk does something he’d never done before: he grabs Thor’s hand, which is holding the hammer. Since Thor never lets go of the hammer, it’s a loophole that lets Hulk use Thor’s arm to beat the thunder god up with his own hammer. Thor is knocked out, making this the first real and definitive win for the Hulk, and causing controversy that raged ever since.
Who do you think would win in a fight between the Hulk and Thor? Let us know in the comments!