At first glance of the Hulk, the thing you’re immediately going to notice is he’s big and strong. The guy’s catchphrase is “Hulk smash” after all, so his fighting strategy is no secret. That doesn’t mean all he has going for him is his size, though. The Hulk actually has some less talked about powers that make him even more formidable for when he’s going against the other powerhouses in the comic book world.
We haven’t seen too many of the Hulk’s other abilities in the Marvel cinematic universe as of yet, but with the threat of Thanos looming on the horizon, he might need to start busting out some of his other moves. If you’ve only ever thought of the Hulk as someone who's strong, it’s time to clear up that misconception, because here are 15 Powers You Didn’t Know The Hulk Has.
15 SUPER LUNG CAPACITY
With Thanos being an intergalactic threat, it’s entirely possible the battle against the villain in "Avengers: Infinity War" could stretch into outer space. Yet, even with so many heroes who can fly, most of them can’t breathe in space as well. Neither can the Hulk, but what he can do is hold his breath for a really, really long time; long enough that when he has wound up in space, running out of air hasn’t always been his primary concern.
Admittedly, the Hulk isn’t usually in space, so you might wonder how frequently this comes in handy, but it does also allow him to go underwater without a huge fear of drowning, which is another feat not too many heroes can boast. He’s no Aquaman or anything, as is obvious, since he mainly sticks to the land. However, when the battle does stretch to where oxygen is scarce, it doesn’t make his opponents any more safe from the Hulk.
14 THE HULK SPECTRUM
Comic book fans aren’t going to be very surprised by this fact since a lot of people remember Bruce Banner’s time as the Gray Hulk. However, for movie fans, picturing the Hulk as anything other than green might be a shock. The color is kind of his signature, after all. But just like Spider-Man went through a black suit phase, the Hulk tried out some different colors too. The plus side is it gave him some different powers to utilize as well.
The Gray Hulk is physically weaker than his green counterpart, so you might think he’s a downgrade. The tradeoff was that even though he wasn’t as much of a destructive force, he was more intelligent. Gray Hulk was actually so clever that this persona took on a more devious, conniving agenda. But then some people might say a scheming Hulk beats dealing with the green one, who leaves only destruction in his wake.
Since the Hulk’s signature outfit includes no shirt and some tattered shorts, you might assume he’s not very well physically protected from attacks. Maybe he just relies on being a powerhouse to avoid taking any damage himself, right? Actually, it turns out he can afford to skip out on protective clothing because he is able to handle whatever is thrown at him. Much like the Man of Steel, even bullets fired at the Hulk will just bounce right off him.
When Banner becomes the Hulk, his change in appearance isn’t just cosmetic. That green skin definitely makes him stand out, but it also offers far more protection that his regular human body provides. The hide of the Hulk is so thick that many ordinary attacks will have no effect. So it’s no good wasting time trying to shoot him, because the Hulk will simply shrug it off and keep on coming.
12 DISEASE IMMUNITY
When people talk about the Hulk being strong, they’re typically referring to being able to lift heavy things. But there are other ways to be strong, such as simply being unusually resilient. Since we’ve talked about the Hulk being bulletproof, he clearly qualifies for that latter category, but it doesn’t stop there. In addition to external forces having a tough time harming him, any of the problems that transpire in people internally have a difficult time harming him as well.
Thanks to his irradiated state, the Hulk has also mutated genetically to the point that common diseases have no effect on him. So, while other heroes have occasionally met sad ends due to cancer like any normal human might, the Hulk doesn’t have to fear that future. His powers have made his body strong enough to ward off infections and illness. He should have a long healthy life of wrecking things ahead of him.
11 MENTAL RESISTANCE
Okay, so we’ve established you can’t shoot the Hulk, you can’t defeat him with illnesses, and you’d have a tough time even drowning him. What else does that leave? Mental control, of course! A big dumb brute like the Hulk surely has to be susceptible to mental manipulation! So then any psychic hero can just take control of him and stop him in his tracks, right? Well, actually, even that plan might not be so great.
The Hulk is definitely a big brute, and he’s not always the most articulate guy, but he’s also not dumb. Whether it’s that the Hulk is in such a state of rage that his mind can’t be calmed enough to control, or whether the dueling personalities of Banner and the Hulk make for too much mind to take hold of, the Hulk has a resistance to telepaths. Even powerful mentalists like Professor Xavier and Doctor Strange can’t neutralize the Hulk through mind control, at least not for long.
10 SUPER HEALING
When people think of characters with healing factors, they typically bring up Wolverine. In more recent years, Deadpool, Daken and X-23 have all been added to that conversation. Many people debate which of their favorite heroes would win in a fight and bring up regenerative abilities as the deciding factor. You can’t beat what you can’t kill, after all. But if you’ve been thinking it’s only the X-Men crew who have such talents, you’re overlooking a pretty big, angry green superhero.
Yes, the Hulk is a member of the healing factor club. So, even if someone survives the onslaught of the Hulk’s physical abilities and actually manages to do some damage to him, that’s not the end of the fight. Minor wounds are no big deal and are something Bruce will recover from in a matter of seconds. More significant damage takes... well, a few more seconds. Take the time his skin was literally flayed off of him by Vector in "The Incredible Hulk" #358 by Peter David and Dale Keown. He regrew his entire epidermis in three panels. Your move, Logan!
A handy move (no pun intended) that the Hulk has busted out with some frequency in the comics is a technique where he claps his hands together to create a shockwave effect. It might not look as visually impressive as punching someone out of a city, but it certainly does have its uses. The wave of sound is enough to stagger enemies who prefer to fight in the air, and can also create a deafening sound to disorient his opponents. he dropped Wolverine of all people with the move in "The Incredible Hulk" #340 by David and Todd McFarlane, for example!
Sure, clapping his hands doesn’t look cool enough to make this power as iconic as something like the Flash’s speed, but it’s still great to have in his arsenal. The whole "strong hero" thing can get boring when vetted through something so simple as a ton of punches; it’s nice to see some inventiveness in using that strength to result in other useful abilities. Of course, it does probably make people reluctant to invite the Hulk anywhere that might involve applauding at the end.
8 LIMITLESS STRENGTH
Everyone knows the Hulk is a powerhouse, so even if you’re not a Hulk fan, you’re not going to be surprised to hear that he’s super strong. It's kind of his "thing." However, what you may not know is that the Hulk’s strength isn’t something with a set limit on it. It’s not like the Hulk is just twice as strong as Bruce Banner, or something like that. Anger is power for the Hulk, so the more enraged he becomes, the more strength he has to tap into.
Even in his most relaxed state, the Hulk can lift objects that are far beyond the imagination for any ordinary human to lift. But as his anger increases, so does his muscle power. So, the crazy thing about the Hulk isn’t that he’s strong, it’s that he could theoretically become strong enough to lift any object, like he did during "Secret Wars," when Molecule Man dropped an entire mountain range on him! It’s hard to imagine how enraged he would have to become to be the strongest thing in existence, but it’s probably best we never find out what that would take, either.
7 CREATING OTHER HULKS
While not exactly a power he can whip out on the fly, the Hulk does have a unique ability that he can utilize given the right circumstances -- producing other Hulks. No, we’re not talking about the Hulk having children, since that’s not an uncommon ability by any means. This is the Hulk transforming other people into new Hulks given the right circumstances of exposure.
The radiation that created the Hulk lives on in Banner’s blood, not only allowing him to transform, but allowing others to become like him if they are exposed to his blood. It’s through this very circumstance that the She-Hulk came into being; during a blood transfusion performed by Banner on his injured cousin, Jennifer Walters, in "The Savage She-Hulk" #1 by Stan Lee and John Buscema. While there’s not exactly a guarantee that the Hulk’s unofficial offspring will be his allies, it does still provide him a possibility at evening up the odds in case one Hulk isn’t enough to cut it. So there’s unlikely to ever be a point when the world is devoid of angry green people who can wreck things.
6 SEEING ASTRAL PROJECTIONS
An irradiated steroid monster doesn’t exactly have a huge need for magic, so you’re not going to see the Hulk casting magic missile at anyone. However, in the life of a superhero, encountering magic is part of the job, so it would leave the Hulk pretty vulnerable if he had no power to deal with such things. Thus, it's a good thing that the Hulk is also capable of seeing astral projections. Or as "The Sixth Sense" has inspired people to say, he can see dead people.
It’s not just dead people, though. Seeing ghosts is no doubt useful, but it's also kind of limited. Even among comic book characters, ghosts are rare villains. Luckily, the Hulk’s ability also doubles for allowing him to see characters who are using magic to project their presence, such as Doctor Strange. He actually was able to help Strange with this ability in issues like "The Incredible Hulk" #370 by David and Keown, assisting the good doctor escape an extra-dimensional demon. So basically, if the Hulk ever gets tired of playing a hero, he can always have a fallback career as a Ghostbuster. Or maybe Wong should watch his back!
5 BREAKING INTO OTHER DIMENSIONS
The Hulk takes his line “Hulk smash” pretty seriously sometimes, as is evidenced by the wreckage often strewn in his wake. By now, it’s common knowledge that he can level cars, buildings and whatever else stands in his way of breaking whatever or whomever it is that has made him angry. He’s not just limited to smashing physical objects, though. At times, the Hulk has even smashed his way into other realities.
That’s right, the Hulk has so much strength, he can punch into other dimensions. It’s another obscure ability that doesn’t get used a whole lot, but it’s a nice tool for the Hulk to have in his arsenal. He’s already fought the likes of gods, so foes from other dimensions aren’t exactly out of the question. If his movie battle does have him thrown into another world, he at least has a way to get himself back into his home world again. He's just gotta punch.
4 LEAPING INTO SPACE
The cool thing about the Hulk’s strength is that writers for the character haven’t just settled on the predictable benefit of being able to punch things really hard (even, as we just mentioned, realities). Yeah, he can do that too, but he also has a lot of inventive uses for his power. For example, if he has strong arms, it stands to reason he would have strong legs as well. So, when he jumps, he has enough power in his legs to go higher than any living thing without wings or self-stimulated flight.
Much like Superman did before he learned to fly, the Hulk uses his leaping to cross huge spans of distance at a time. At this point, the Hulk is such a talented jumper that he is able to bound to different continents if he’s really trying. With that kind of power in his legs, you can probably guess that the Hulk doesn’t have to rely on a rocket ship to gain vertical height either. If he’s aiming to, the Hulk can even get into outer space with a jump. Maybe two.
3 HOMING IN ON WHERE HE WAS CREATED
They say home is where the heart is, but in this case, home is where the Hulk is. Once Bruce Banner became the Hulk, it left a mark on him that has made him able to detect the spot where his superhuman form originated. The gamma irradiated spot in New Mexico where the Hulk first appeared is something he is always able to find, like he has a GPS in his mind pointing him back home. You might think having the instincts of a homing pigeon wouldn’t be that useful, but the Hulk has done some impressive things with the ability.
Even when in another dimension, the Hulk is still able to sense that spot in New Mexico in the 616 universe. And remember how he can smash through dimensions? So guess who can find his way back home thanks to this ability? Interestingly, this ability was later retconned and explained, in "The Incredible Hulk" #460 by David and Adam Kubert, as being because his future self -- The Evil maestro -- is buried at the site. So, in essence, he is being attracted there thanks to the latent gamma energy in his future corpse, which is buried in its past (our present). And you thought the Hulk wasn't a complex character!
2 SUPER SPEED
We all know that big, strong characters are slow. Just look at the classic Godzilla movies, where the monster slowly lumbers through the city, seemingly moving even slower than the fleeing civilians. So the Hulk is super strong and all, but at least he’s only dangerous if he can catch you. And there’s no way someone that big would have an easy time catching his opponent, right? That’s probably what his enemies tell themselves, but they’d actually be wrong. Dead wrong.
Superman is quite strong, and speed is no problem for him, so you have to remember those rules don’t apply in comics. Yeah, with the Hulk’s body mass, he should move about as gracefully as the Frankenstein monster. But his superpowers didn’t just give him strength, and he’s actually disarmingly fast as well, thanks mostly to the muscles in his legs, which again, are enhanced to the ultimate degree. As derided as it is, Ang lee's "Hulk" film showed this well as the titular hero absolutely booked it through the desert during his fight with the U.S. military. He's no Flash, but the Hulk is very, very difficult to outrun.
1 SURVIVAL IN SPACE
We already discussed that Hulk has a super lung capacity that can come in handy when underwater or in space, but there are more dangers to being in space than just a lack of air. There’s a reason astronauts put on entire space suits and not just oxygen masks when they are traversing space. Even heroes who can fly have been shown freezing as they flew out of the Earth’s atmosphere and towards space. But even this isn’t enough to stop the Hulk.
The Hulk is highly adaptable, as we also discussed in regards to his healing ability and bulletproof skin. So, while in space, the Hulk has been able to regenerate in spite of his environment and actually adapt to the conditions of being in an absolute vacuum. Now, admittedly, this doesn’t mean outer space is his ideal fighting location, since characters like Spider-Man have actually gained the upper hand by launching him towards the stars. But even in space, the Hulk is so resilient that the conditions are far from a death sentence for him.
Did any of these abilities surprise you, or are you a super big Hulk fan who knows his every move? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!