The Hulk has been a long standing success for Marvel, one of dozens of Golden Age heroes whom comic readers can’t seem to get enough of, even today. Perhaps one of the reasons the character has so much staying power is the contrast between his immense power and his desire to find to be generally left alone. Similar to Dr. Frankenstein’s Creation, the Hulk is often misunderstood as a monster (even by his own alter-ego Bruce Banner and fellow Avengers), and struggles with his identity.
Gifting him with great power and equipping him with a desire not to use it is an excellent way to make him a riveting character, but since his inception Hulk’s claim to be “the strongest one there is” might not be as accurate as it once was. Comic book publishers have continued to up the stakes through the decades, creating heroes and villains with more and more power. So where does the Incredible Hulk stand now? It’s almost certainly not at the top anymore. Here are 15 characters stronger than Hulk, and five rip-offs who may not be more powerful, but are too inspired not to mention in a Hulk comparison.
20 STRONGER: THANOS
The Mad Titan Thanos dispatched Hulk with ease in Avengers: Infinity War before turning and doing the same to Thor and Loki. Unfortunately for Hulk, this wasn’t the first time.
Thanos has defeated Hulk in the pages of Marvel comics as well, though only a handful of times. In order to do so, the Titan usually works to end fights with the Hulk brutally and decisively, as Banner’s power grows over time as he gets angrier. It’s worth noting that although Thanos is more powerful, he’s still wary of the Hulk’s strength, and has said in the past Hulk is one of the few beings he avoids conflict with if possible.
19 STRONGER: DOOMSDAY
The only character known to have defeated Superman in combat, Doomsday may even be one of the few characters angrier than the Hulk.
Doomsday began life as a humanoid baby created by an evil alien scientist named Bertron. Bertron repeatedly sent the baby out into the unsurvivable wasteland of prehistoric Krypton, where it (at least initially) was repeatedly destroyed. Eventually this process worked as a kind of accelerated evolution that resulted in the birth of Doomsday. He’s an alpha predator who hates all life, and though he and Hulk have never met in battle, Doomsday’s defeat of Superman suggests he could also take on Marvel’s angry green giant.
18 STRONGER: GALACTUS
Originally created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Galactus was their effort to create a villain unlike any seen before in comics. Galactus is beyond the petty thoughts and judgements of mortals, and so in a way beyond good and evil. He eats planets, but he does so in order to sustain himself. Does that make him evil? It’s a grey area, at least.
What is a little more clear is his dominion over the Hulk. Hulk is from Earth. Galactus is from the universe before ours, and (with the help of the Phoenix Force) survived its end and lived through the Big Bang. While Hulk is powered by anger (and a little gamma radiation), Galactus derives his power from the Power Cosmic (cosmic power), and, again, he eats planets. Because he has to. To sustain his life. Because he’s just that powerful.
17 RIP-OFF: RAMPAGE
While there are a lot of Hulk look-a-likes floating around the comic book industry, Kitty Falkner and her alter-ego Rampage share an almost identical origin story to Bruce Banner and the Incredible Hulk.
A scientist working at S.T.A.R. Labs, Kitty was developing a pollution-free energy source when a colleague’s interference caused the explosion that transformed her into Rampage. Sound familiar? Rampage, like the Incredible Hulk, struggles with controlling her powers, though in her case it’s usually because of people manipulating her rather than her own anger. At least this rip-off has a gender-swap going to help differentiate the two characters, but it's pretty clear where the inspiration for Rampage came from.
16 STRONGER: DARKSEID
Being the ruler of your own planet is one thing (“Planet Hulk” by Pak, Pagulayan, and Lopresti), taking vengeance on Earth is another (“World War Hulk” by Pak and Romita Jr.), taking vengeance on Earth and using the Anti-Life Equation to exist inside of every living being on the planet is something else entirely.
In “Final Crisis” (written by Morrison, inked by Jones and Rudy) Darkseid does exactly that. Although Hulk proves he’s no slouch by engaging most of Earth’s superheroes in all out war, Darkseid’s ability to wield the Anti-Life equation alone puts him a cut above in terms of power.
15 STRONGER: DOCTOR MANHATTAN
Alan Moore, David Gibbons and John Higgins' Watchmen has proven it has staying power. So much so that DC has been working one of its most iconic characters into the current DC Universe over the last year. That character is, of course, Doctor Manhattan.
Though they were both the result of accidents with radiation, the Hulk only came out with a few party tricks when compared to Manhattan. Capable of omnipotence, able to restructure his form (even when destroyed), fly, has no need for oxygen, water…do we need to continue? His recent workings as the apparent puppetmaster of the DC Universe is further evidence of Doctor Manhattan’s formidable power.
14 STRONGER: WORLD-BREAKER HULK
Who else is stronger than the Incredible Hulk? World Breaker Hulk. We’re referring here to the extremely powerful version of the Hulk seen in the “World War Hulk” storyline.
Having been banished to the planet Sakaar by the Illuminati, Hulk fights his way to the throne of that world with the help of Caiera, who later becomes his Queen. The radiation of Sakaar is revealed to be stronger than on Earth, and actually enhances Hulk’s powers even further so that, upon returning to his home planet to seek revenge for his banishment and the death of his Caiera, he’s able to practically destroy the East Coast of the USA with a single stomp. He does so by weaponizing the gamma radiation that seeps out of his body. We’d love to see World-Breaker Hulk take on Thanos in Avengers: Endgame.
13 RIP-OFF: SMASH
Purple Hulk -- erm, we mean Smash -- is, well he’s Purple Hulk! Created by Rob Liefeld, one of the reasons Smash looks so much like the strongest one there is is because the pages he sprang out of were initially intended for Marvel.
After a falling out between Marvel and Liefeld, he took the pages he’d been working on for a Captain America story featuring an appearance by Hulk and re-appropriated them for an Image comic he called Agent America. Which goes a long way in explaining why Smash looks an awful lot like a purple colored Hulk wearing green pants.
12 STRONGER: CAPTAIN MARVEL
Set to make her big screen debut this March, Carol Danvers is one of the most powerful heroes in the comics and (according to Kevin Feige) the most powerful hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
After watching Thanos trounce the Incredible Hulk in Infinity War, it seems apparent the Avengers will need Captain Marvel to defeat the Mad Titan. In the pages of the comics, Captain Marvel isn’t always stronger than Hulk, and she’s been beaten by him before. However, at her most powerful, Captain Marvel can transform into Binary. Capable of just about anything, Binary derives her power from a white hole (think opposite of black hole), and is more than capable of defeating Hulk in this form.
11 STRONGER: CAPTAIN UNIVERSE
Although it’s fallen to the background in recent years, the physical manifestation of the Uni-Power is another one of many all-powerful beings in the Marvel Universe.
Whenever a threat is great enough, the guardian and protector of Eternity merges with a host, turning that person into Captain Universe. Capable of super-strength, flight, telekenisis, and more, the Uni-Power has teamed up with quite a few Marvel heroes to defeat insurmountable evil, including the Hulk himself! With the ability to theoretically team up with anyone in the Marvel Universe, Captain Universe is certainly stronger than Hulk.
10 STRONGER: SUPERMAN PRIME (ONE MILLION)
We could argue for countless hours about whether the Last Son of Krypton can best the Incredible Hulk in combat. Superman isn’t infallible after all, and has been defeated before. However this version of the Man of Steel we know for certain would wipe the floor with Hulk.
While regular, boring old vanilla Superman gets his power from Earth’s yellow sun, Superman Prime is a living extension of the sun. After living a full life defeating bad guys and making Earth a better place, Superman grew sad that all of his friends and family was dying around him while he lived on. So he installed a hierarchy of Supermen to continue his legacy, and disappeared into the sun for 15 000 years only to reemerge when all seemed lost to save the day and resurrect Lois Lane. We don’t think Hulk would stand a chance against Superman Prime because well, Superman Prime wins everything.
9 RIP-OFF: BAT-HULK
Bob Haney left a lasting legacy at DC Comics by co-creating numerous characters including Thomas Wayne Jr, and teaming up a group of young super heroes who would then become the Teen Titans.
Enjoying a thriving career at DC Comics, he also had no problems poking fun at rival publisher Marvel and created Bat-Hulk along with artist Mike Sekowsky in 1966. Haney was known for some pretty wacky plot lines, but Bat-Hulk is one of the most memorable. Appearing most recently in the animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold, this hilarious rip-off is one for the books.
8 STRONGER: WEAPON H
One of the more recent additions to Marvel’s roster of heroes, Weapon H could, at the very least, give Hulk a run for his money.
A combination of DNA from Weapon X (Wolverine) and Bruce Banner, Weapon H is a hybrid of the two heroes and their powers. He has the immense strength and size of Hulk, the adamantium claws and healing factor of Wolverine, is fuelled by anger, and has enhanced senses. We could argue point for point, power for power which one of the two Hulks would come out on top in a fight, but pretty soon we won’t have to. Marvel’s “Hulkverines” (by Greg Pak, Ario Anindito, and Guiu Villanova) is set to debut in June 2019, and will focus on a confrontation between Weapon H and his DNA daddy’s, putting this argument to rest.
7 STRONGER: CELESTIALS
Some of the oldest beings in the Marvel Universe (according to fictional history, not publication date), it’s unlikely the Celestials would ever even consider the Incredible Hulk.
They’ve spent most of their considerablely long existence manipulating and manufacturing life in the universe for their own purposes. They are responsible for creating the Eternals (another group of unspeakably powerful heroes), and have only rarely been defeated by the most powerful weapons in existence. Even with the power of all Asgardians collected in the Destroyer Armor, Odin was unable to defeat the Fourth Host of Celestials. When one does get defeated, it takes consuming an entire galaxy to birth another.
6 STRONGER: ELAINE BELLOC
The daughter of the Archangel Michael, Elaine Belloc doesn’t look like she could take on the Incredible Hulk and survive even a single blow, forget defeating him.
Nevertheless, as Elaine’s power grows in the pages of Lucifer, it becomes pretty clear the descendant of Yahweh could wipe the floor with Hulk without even blinking. While Hulk is able to take over a planet, Elaine actually creates her own universe. She later inherits the main universe, and becomes the omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent force overseeing creation from the throne of God. But Hulk was King of Sakaar once, so…
5 RIP-OFF: BEHEMOTH
The most recent addition to the long list of Hulk rip-offs in the DC Comics Universe is Grant Morrison and Ivan Reis’ Behemoth. Although to be fair, Behemoth is much more of an homage than a rip-off.
Mild mannered scientist David Dibble of The Retaliators (a satirical version of Marvel’s Avengers) transforms into a giant blue baby when he becomes enraged. The entire universe Behemoth comes from (Earth 8) is modeled after the Marvel Universe, complete with superheroes that for some reason just won’t stop fighting one another! The Retaliators actually trace their roots back to the Champions of Angor, part of a fun crossover by Justice League of America writer Mike Friedrich and Avengers writer Roy Thomas in which the respective teams fight satirized versions of their cross publisher counter-parts.
4 STRONGER: THE SPECTRE
Another character with powers verging on godlike, a sideways glance from The Spectre would likely result in the Hulk’s immediate dematerialization.
The embodiment of the wrath of God and gifted with all of a god’s abilities, The Spectre’s power is practically limitless. Practically, because the Spectre is usually tied to a human host (often Jim Corrigan). This limits him somewhat, but also helps pass suitable judgement on criminals (a hostless Spectre has slain criminals for petty theft, and been tricked into attempting to eradicate all magic from the DC Universe). The Hulk may be physically stronger than The Spectre, but he just can’t beat omnipotence.
3 STRONGER: THE PRESENCE
And we thought The Spectre was powerful. The DC Universe’s Presence is essentially a fictional version of Abraham’s God.
Sure let’s throw the big guy a bone and agree, Hulk is strongest one there is. We won’t argue with that. But strength is simply no match for the ability to oversee and alter all of reality all of the time. If there is such a thing as all powerful in the DC Universe, it’s the Presence. One aspect of The Presence, The Voice, is what chooses The Spectre’s host Jim Corrigan. It’s unclear just how many aspects of the Presence there are, or even how many omnipotent beings there are in the DC Universe (there seem to be quite a few), it is clear that if any of these beings decided to cross property lines and face off against the Hulk, he’d lose.
2 STRONGER: THE ONE ABOVE ALL
DC isn’t the only publisher to include a version of Abraham’s God in their fictional universe. Marvel’s The One Above All is exactly that.
The One Above All is responsible for the creation of the entire multiverse, and oversees it all. Like DC, Marvel has quite a few omnipotent, seemingly all powerful beings. However in the Marvel Universe these beings (like the Living Tribunal, Uatu the Watcher, Death, and Eternity) often refer to one greater than them, The One Above All. As its name suggests, its power truly is above all else in the Marvel Universe, even the Hulk.
1 RIP-OFF: LOOSE CANNON
A rogue cop and quite literally “loose cannon” before his transformation, Loose Cannon was created by Jeff Loeb and Lee Moder as part of the 1993 “Bloodlines” event.
Another rage fueled hero like the Hulk, Loose Cannon actually changes colors from blue, to purple, to red, and finally to white when he reaches peak anger. Loose Cannon proved to be one of the more popular Hulk rip-offs, even reappearing in the New 52 timeline. Unfortunately for him in this story he’s a villain, rather than the “loose cannon but damn good cop” he was from the start.