Big, green, and full of rage, the ever-loving Hulk has been a staple of the Marvel Universe since his debut in 1962. He was envisioned as a being who was a mix of Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The Hulk is the alternate persona of Doctor Bruce Banner, a troubled but brilliant physicist and expert on gamma radiation. After being caught in a freak accident that exposed him to an excess amount of gamma rays, Dr. Banner was forever changed, haunted by the Hulk personality that would emerge whenever he would get incredibly angry. The nature of the character as a brutish being of immense power allows creative teams to feature him in an eclectic range of stories from sci-fi epics, fantastical conflicts of monsters and men, superhero dramas, or tales of horror.
The Hulk’s status as a central character in the Marvel Universe has led to appearances in the vast array of Marvel media such as animation, television, video games, unofficial parodies, and most recently the popular Marvel Studios films. No matter what medium he appears in, Hulk has benefitted from the spirited portrayals of vocal artists, character actors, and comedians using their talents to bring the iconic strongman to life. Though casual audiences may be most familiar with the portrayals of Lou Ferrigno or Mark Ruffalo, the pool of talent behind the Hulk is quite varied. Here is CBR’s list of the 15 Hulks that may have slipped through audience attention, and what they brought to the character to make him their own.
15. SETH GREEN
Carving a name for himself in entertainment thanks to his approachable nerdy personality, Seth Green is one of the last people anyone would imagine playing The Incredible Hulk. The multi-talented former werewolf had his shot at voicing the jolly green rage monster during a few segments of the Robot Chicken sketch comedy series.
Produced and co-created by Green himself, Robot Chicken uses modified action figures to take dark and humorous jabs at some of pop culture’s favorite characters. Seth Green’s interpretation of the Hulk is just a stereotypical gravely monster voice, sometimes pitched down from Green’s usual mid-high cadence. This is understandable considering Green’s Hulk is more of a set piece for dark humor as opposed to a candid take on the character.
14. JOHN CENA
Since John Cena’s portrayal of the Hulk was in a mobile video game, it is a 100% verifiable fact that you can’t see him. Old memes aside, John Cena’s performance in the Avengers Academy video game is a unique entry in the catalog of Hulk voices.
An alternate take on the Marvel Universe where its inhabitants are children and adolescents, the Hulk contributes to the games cast in a way that is reflective of the game’s bright and upbeat setting. Instead of being some sullen pariah like other portrayals, Avengers Academy Hulk is instead a rowdy teen full of life thanks to the boisterous superstar’s energetic performance.
13. RON PERLMAN
Known primarily for his time playing a different monochromatic monster hero, Ron Perlman voiced the Hulk for two separate animated series; Iron Man (1994) and Fantastic Four (1994). Debuting the character’s voice for the ’90s Marvel animated universe, Perlman set the standard for both Hulk and Bruce Banner before being replaced by Neal McDonough and Lou Ferrigno in Hulk (1996).
Perlman gave a solid performance for the role, adding a lot of emotional weight for the more tragic scenes, but unfortunately never got past sounding like a regular guy as opposed to an abnormal entity like the Hulk should be. Even so, Perlman’s Hulk is still a memorable performance and an important footnote in the animated history of the character.
12. JOHN BELUSHI
Beginning a long line of Hulk appearances on the sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live, John Belushi portrayed the character in a sketch involving Superman and Lois Lane throwing a house party. Unfortunately, the sketch comes from an era that didn’t know how to satirize superheroes in a way beyond novelty, with the result being the sketch and Belushi’s performance feeling like missed opportunities.
Belushi isn’t doing anything truly comedic with the character, just the same awkward schlubby schtick that made him a popular name in entertainment. He acts like a frat boy, has a few bodily humor jokes, and the most off-putting of all, walks in on Invisible Girl on the toilet. It was an admirable attempt, but far from the best on the list.
11. CHRIS FARLEY
Due to similarities of the subject matter being satirized, as well as featuring similar characters, the “Superhero House Party” sketch is regularly compared to the “Superman’s Funeral” sketch that would air on SNL 13 years later. Based on the “Death of Superman” story arc that was happening contemporary to the sketch’s airing, “Superman’s Funeral” takes full advantage of its subject matter in ways “Superhero House Party” missed. The greatest example is with Chris Farley’s brilliant portrayal of Hulk.
As one of the representative grievers from Marvel Comics, Farley’s Hulk is both exactly what fans expect from the character while still providing twists which present unexpected laughs. Every iconic aspect of the character is on display from his pattern of speech to his notorious penchant for smashing. All of it is done with the unique energy and personality that could only be achieved by Chris Farley.
10. PETER CULLEN
Yes, you read that correctly, the voice of Optimus Prime once played the Incredible Hulk. Pulling triple duty as the Hulk, Bruce Banner, and the villain Mysterio, Peter Cullen voiced the roles for an episode of Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends titled “Spidey Goes Hollywood.”
In the episode, Mysterio attempts to deal with his wall-crawling nemesis once and for all while he is working on a movie set to help Aunt May’s latest financial crisis. Mysterio is aided in his plot against Spider-Man by a robot duplicate of the Hulk, also voiced by Cullen, which gets exceedingly complicated following the arrival of the real big green guy. Cullen’s Hulk is a fun treat, achieving the growl and cadence of that which makes the audience believe he is a creature of isolated rage.
9. BOBBY MOYNIHAN
Another SNL funnyman taking his swing at the iconic character, Moniyhan’s tenure on SNL saw the growing popularity of the MCU and with it came an increased number of superhero sketches. With the expanded amount of Marvel-based material on the show, Moniyhan holds the distinction of the most reoccurring Hulk portrayals in SNL‘s history.
In two of the sketches, Hulk is not the focus, serving instead as a foil to sketch stars, and show hosts, Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye and Scarlett Johanson’s Black Widow. But a third appearance on Weekend Update is where Moynihan’s Hulk truly shines, starting out as Banner before transforming to Hulk live in real time, hilariously applying makeup and putting on Hulk gloves in a very haphazard way. Moynihan does the tradition of comedic Hulks proud.
8. DAISUKE GORI
A Japanese vocal artist, Gori has performed in many animations, video games, and television shows before his tragic passing in 2010. Gori’s famous low registry vocal performances served as the base for such iconic characters as Mr. Satan/Hercule in the Dragon Ball franchise, and Heihachi Mishima in the Tekken video game franchise beginning with Tekken 3.
As known as Gori was for developing characters, the voice actor also had prolific work in dubbing the voices of foreign media that found their way to Japan. His well known deep voice has performed for American roles such as the titular Iron Giant in the Japanese dub of the film by the same name. He also filled in Ron Pearlman’s shoes for the Hulk on Iron Man (1994).
7. FRED TATASCIORE
You might not know the name, but you’ve heard about this Hulk. Aside from boasting a huge biography of vocal work composed of film, television, and video game appearances, Fred Tatasciore holds several distinctions for his prominent portrayal as the Marvel Universe’s resident smasher.
In addition to holding the title of the most vocal portrayals of the character, Tatasciore can claim the victory of the most Hulk portrayals ever in any form. With more than 30 stints of the character across multiple platforms and mediums, Fred Tatasciore has crafted a legacy around the Hulk. Some fans even feel Tatasciore is as closely connected to the Hulk as Kevin Conroy is to Batman. In terms of sheer quantity, Tastciore is the strongest there is.
6. TRAVIS WILLINGHAM
Known more for his performance as Thor on Disney XD’s Avengers Assemble or as a cast member of online Dungeons and Dragons based web-series Critical Role, Travis Willingham had his chance to voice the other star of Thor: Ragnarok for the Superhero Squad Show. Based on a toyline of the same name, The Superhero Squad Show was a more comedic focused take on the Marvel Universe that was intended for a very young audience.
Like the other characters on the show, Superhero Squad Hulk is a very exaggerated take on the character that borders on satire. Willingham, to his credit, gives an enjoyable performance as Superhero Squad Hulk, making the oafish childlike antics of the character charming as opposed to annoying.
5. TED CASSIDY
As a character actor known for his extraordinary stature, it seems only logical that Ted Cassidy would play the gargantuan Hulk in some shape or form, even if the way he did might not be what a person would imagine. Cassidy is most recognizable as the first actor to portray the butler Lurch from Addams Family, as well as a handful of minor roles in famous television shows like Star Trek and The Twilight Zone.
A lesser-known fact is Cassidy’s involvement with the live-action Incredible Hulk television series from 1978, starring Bill Bixby as Bruce Banner with Lou Ferrigno providing the physical performance for the Hulk. Cassidy’s contributions to the series include opening narration for each episode and providing the vocal grunts and growls of the Hulk dubbed over Ferrigno’s actions.
4. MICHAEL DOBSON
A Canadian voice actor and one-third of the Dobson Brothers with fellow voice actors Paul and Brian, Michael Dobson is most known for the roles he portrayed in such animated franchises as Transformers and My Little Pony. He also inadvertently created meme history by being the first English voice actor of Nappa from Dragon Ball Z.
Like many voice actors before and after him, Dobson contributed his vocals to bring the Hulk to life, but in a much more different type of medium than the Hulk was featured in before. Rather than portray the character in a video game or traditional animation, Michael Dobson voiced the character as part of the Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk Motion Comic. Based on the limited series of the same name by Damon Lindelof and Lenil Francis Yu, the story is a retelling of Hulk’s first encounter with the Canadian mutant and takes place in the Ultimate Universe.
3. MIKE O’HEARN
As a bodybuilder, athletic model, and only gladiator to be featured on both iterations of American Gladiator, Mike O’Hearn was practically born to play the Hulk. It’s no secret that O’Hearn has an affection for superheroes. This is not only evidenced by his portrayal of Superman in the fan film World’s Finest, but also the numerous times he has homaged or outright played the Hulk.
The first time O’Hearn donned the green skin and shorts was for the 2008 reboot of American Gladiator, with his gladiator persona Titan painted and dressed like the Hulk in a cross-promotion with Marvel Studios’ then-new film The Incredible Hulk. Later, O’Hearn would play the world breaking behemoth properly for the Epic Rap Battle YouTube series, as well as a short YouTube sketch called “Hulk at the Office.”
2. JOSH RUBEN
More so than any other on this list, the name of Josh Ruben may be seen and immediately followed with a reaction of “who?” For those unaware, Josh Ruben is an exceedingly talented comedian/writer/impressionist known primarily for his work on the website/YouTube channel College Humor.
While working with the sketch comedy site, Ruben wrote and starred in a variety of videos, with the most famous being a comedically relatable series revolving around the different girlfriends, roommates, and drunk personalities of a single man called “The Six.” Ruben would also play the Hulk for another College Humor sketch offering comedic insight into the gamma radiated Avenger’s romantic life. For a look at Ruben’s dramatic side, followers of Star Wars can see Ruben in a very well done fan-film he produced and starred in called TK630 – A Star Wars Fan Film.
1. ALEX BORSTEIN
Multi-Emmy award-winning voice actress, the voice of Lois Griffin from Family Guy, and the only woman to ever play the Hulk, Alex Borstein played the character as part of her tenure on sketch comedy series and SNL rival Mad TV. Like other sketch comedy shows before and since Mad TV, Borstein performed a hilariously subversive take on the character in the sketch “Pocket Hulk.”
A reverse of the traditional Hulk story, Will Sasso plays an alternate take on Bruce Banner, a large but gentle man cursed with transforming into the diminutive Pocket Hulk when angered. The not so subtle comedy of the sketch is brilliant, with Sasso’s soft-spoken giant hilariously juxtaposed with the aggressive but ineffective tantrums of Borstein’s Pocket Hulk.
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