When Bruce Banner gets angry, he transforms into a giant green monster capable of uncontrollable destruction. Created by the legendary duo of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1962 for The Incredible Hulk #1, the Hulk has become one of the most prominent characters within the Marvel Comics universe. He has been treated to several live-action adaptations, animated series, and continues to be one of the more terrifying superheroes in the world. Frequently thought to be The Strongest There Is, Hulk has usually lived up to that title. That is, until he gets his butt kicked.
The Hulk can take on just about any hero, villain, monster, and god in comics, but he doesn’t always come out on top. On the rare occasions his opponents get the better of him, it can be a surprising sight to see, considering his impressive track record in battle. Then again, we can’t always expect the Jade Giant to come out on top, no matter how strong and unbeatable he usually seems to be. There are some fights where the Hulk just has absolutely no chance of victory. Here are 15 times he was completely outmatched, because sometimes Hulk likes to smash, and other times he gets smashed right back.
15 VS. SILVER SURFER
It’s sometimes hard to call Hulk a superhero when he usually spends his time yelling at everyone and hitting anyone who comes close to him. That’s what happens in Tales to Astonish #93 when the Hulk runs into fellow Stan Lee and Jack Kirby creation the Silver Surfer. The battle starts off with the Silver Surfer feeding Hulk a facefull of the Power Cosmic, and it only gets better from there.
The Hulk may be strong, but the Silver Surfer is far quicker and more durable than anyone the monster has punched before. The Cosmic Surfer actually uses his surfboard as a weapon and gives his green assailant a proper beating before flying off. The entire incident proves to be a incredibly embarrassing moment in the life of the Hulk.
14 VS. DEADPOOL
Even when his opponent knows he’s no match for him in a physical fight, he’s still been beaten in the end. When Deadpool decides to kill everyone in the universe in the appropriately named Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe, he makes his way into the desert to locate the Hulk. The fight doesn’t go so well for Wade Wilson, and he ends up as a heap of body parts.
Thinking he’s killed his opponent, the Hulk stays in the area, reverts back to Bruce Banner, and takes a little nap. In the meantime, Deadpool’s amazing healing factor allows him to regenerate his body back to normal, and everything goes according to plan from there. He manages to sneak up on the sleeping Banner and kills him before he has a chance to turn back into the Hulk.
13 VS. BROTHER VOODOO
Bruce Banner was killed by Hawkeye during the events of Civil War II, however, he is soon resurrected by the Hand in Uncanny Avengers. Now a mindless beast, he attacks many of his former allies without knowing what he is doing. After a long struggle against the monster, Rogue, Wasp, Human Torch, Synapse, and the rest of the team are able to lure him into a trap.
Brother Voodoo, planning this entire operation from afar, manages to seal him inside a mystical barrier. With his target now trapped, Voodoo ventures inside the seal and manages to undo the magic that the Hand had imbued within him. He is easily able to free Banner of the enchantment, depower the Hulk, and return him to the afterlife.
12 VS. SUPERMAN
When the comic book worlds of DC and Marvel converge during the events of DC vs. Marvel, Hulk is paired up in battle with the Man of Steel himself, Superman. Seeing how the two are absolute powerhouses with seemingly unlimited levels of strength, the companies likely thought the fight would be a little more evenly matched. Unfortunately for the Hulk, it wasn’t anywhere close to even.
While their friends and compatriots took part in battles against their comic book counterparts, the epic fight between Superman and the Hulk got underway. The two traded a handful of blows before it’s revealed that Superman was holding back. He then decides he has to end the altercation and unleashes one powerful punch that ends the fight immediately. The whole battle took only three pages.
11 VS. SURTUR
Thor: Ragnarok shows off a bevy of powerful gods over its 130-minute runtime, but no one quite measures up to Surtur. While Hela is shown to be the main villain of the film, it’s Surtur that truly proves to be unstoppable. In order to end Hela’s reign of terror of Asgard, Thor is ultimately forced to use Surtur as his weapon, bring about Ragnarok, and finally destroying Hela.
The Hulk, though trying to be helpful, ultimately just gets in the way when he sees the large fire demon overtaking Asgard. He jumps at Surtur while Thor demands that he stops fighting the monster. Luckily, he stands no chance of hurting him at all. Surtur picks the Hulk off his brow as if he were an ant, and then flings him away.
10 VS. THOR
Who would win in a fight, Thor or Hulk? It’s been debated for years, but signs point to Thor coming out on top. This is what happened during the event Fear Itself in 2011. In issue #5 of the series, the Odinson takes on the Hulk, who has been taken over by Nul, the Breaker of Worlds, and the Thing, who is now Angrir: Breaker of Souls.
He makes short work of the Thing, before moving onto the evil-empowered Hulk and smashing him straight through a window into the concrete below. Thor knows that he can’t definitively defeat this super-charged Hulk, but he uses his control over lightning to give himself enough power for one final attack. The next thing we see is the Hulk flying through orbit and falling back to Earth miles from where he was just standing.
9 VS. WOLVERINE
In one possible future of the Marvel Universe, the Hulk becomes a crazy redneck mobster who cultivates an inbred family of criminals. The Hulk family goes up against Old Man Logan and they come out on the losing end. When they kill Logan’s family, he goes on a rampage to slaughter every last one of Banner’s family members until he comes to the man himself.
The two fight it out until Banner hulks up into a massive and disgusting gamma creature and eats his enemy alive. The battle seems over until he realizes that his meal has a healing factor, and that indigestion is actually Logan coming back together inside his stomach. In one mighty attack, the Wolverine bursts out of his body, killing him instantly. The Hulk never stood a chance.
8 VS. THANOS
When Thanos brings the Infinity Gems together in the Infinity Gauntlet event series, he assembles the powers of a god. He is capable of killing anyone, destroying anything, and reshaping the universe the way he wants it to look. The superheroes of the Marvel Universe realize that he must be stopped, and an epic battle ensues.
Towards the end of the series, only a small group of heroes remain. The Hulk teams up with Drax the Destroyer to try and take down Thanos; however, it ultimately proves to be impossible. Thanos merely has to swat his hand and the Hulk is flicked away. The Jade Giant might be able to fight the Mad Titan in a more even matchup -- though even then, in the Infinity event, he did similarly swat him away -- however, the Infinity Gauntlet makes him far too powerful to take on in direct combat.
7 VS. UMAR
In 2005, Keith Giffen J.M. DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire brought the original Defenders team back together for a new miniseries. Doctor Strange, Namor, the Hulk, and Silver Surfer deal with a fight against the villain Dormammu and his sister Umar. At one point, the villain manages to immobilize the Hulk with an enchantment until Umar decides to have some fun with him.
Locked away in her tower, she unfreezes the Hulk from his magical nap and surprises him with her own version of Hulk smash. The two get it on, but even as the super powerful Hulk, Bruce Banner isn’t able to last long. Rendered satisfied and now completely relaxed, he transforms back into his human form and is “defeated,” much to Umar’s shock and disappointment.
6 VS. BATMAN
In an absolutely amazing, and likely impossible feat from 1981, Batman actually managed to defeat the Incredible Hulk. The unlikely crossover came in DC Special Series #27 from Len Wein and José Luis García-López, where the Joker tricks the Hulk into working for him. The two heroes go toe-to-toe, but Batman somehow manages to get the better of his green foe.
Just as the Hulk has the Caped Crusader in a bear hug that should honestly kill him, Batman boxes his ears and manages to get away. He then uses tear gas to distract the beast before placing a powerful kick in just the right place to knock the air from his lungs. Somehow, Batman managed not only managed to escape death but also defeat one of the most powerful comic book characters ever.
5 VS. HERCULES
In the 2008 one-shot Hulk vs. Hercules: When Titans Collide, the two heroes fight it out, but it ultimately proves to be a one-sided fight. The Hulk is clearly more powerful than his godlike opponent, but the problem is that he can’t really land a solid blow on him. Hercules takes a few hits, but it’s nothing he can’t get up from or counter into his own attack.
When the Hulk uses an entire Greek column to attack his opponent, Herc manages to punch the piece of rock into rubble. It ends up doing more harm to the Hulk, though, and Hercules looks like he’s won this round. Then, suddenly, Ares attacks and the two heroes team up to take him on, fight Cronos, and beat up a ton of monsters. Things worked out for everyone in the end, but we all know who won this round.
4 VS. THE PUNISHER
In The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe, Frank Castle’s family is killed in a shootout between the X-Men and their villains. This version of the Punisher, seeing superheroes as the cause of his family’s demise, goes on a one-man mission to eliminate all superpowered beings in the universe. The Hulk doesn’t even stand a chance against this new threat.
Frank tracks down the Hulk, keeps his distance from the monster, and tags him with a tracking device. Then he just has to wait for the Hulk to power down and re-emerge as the normal human being Bruce Banner. This gives Frank an opening, allowing him to simply shoot Bruce dead. It wasn’t really a battle, but the Hulk never really stood a chance against that kind of planning.
3 VS. Zarda
In the Ultimate Hulk Annual #1 from 2009, Zarda, the Ultimate Universe’s version of Power Princess, is tasked to hunt down the Hulk and bring him in. She finds him in a small town where he attempts to purchase pancakes at a diner without wearing any clothes. The two finally meet, and of course things end up being settled in a heated battle in the parking lot.
Zarda manages to make short work of the Ultimate Hulk. She punches him out of the window and beats him into the cement. Hulk manages to get an attack in that is miraculously able to hurt her (however minor) and she takes it out on him by punching him directly in his manhood. With the monster now keeled over on the ground with an axe to his head, he finally gives up.
2 VS. ZEUS
Following the events of Chaos War, the Hulk and his group of Hulked out allies head to Mount Olympus in order to have some words with Zeus. In Incredible Hulks #622, Hulk challenges him to a fight, but he has never been so outmatched in his life. The Greek god takes all his anger out on the Hulk, decimating him with only a few punches.
Realizing this conflict is not going his way, he tells his friends to get away before they also get hurt. With one epic punch, Zeus manages to break the Hulk from the inside out. Just like Prometheus before him, Hulk is chained to a rock to have his insides eaten by vultures as punishment for his audacity to challenge the gods. It’s only when Hercules shows up that the Hulk is finally freed.
1 VS. DAVID BANNER
Remember the terrible Hulk movie from 2003 that starred Eric Bana? Not only was it nearly unwatchable, but the film’s villain is completely unbeatable in the end. Just as Bruce Banner and his father are set to be executed, David uses his absorption powers to basically become a godlike being. The final fight is a puny little Hulk trying to punch the Earth itself.
Able to absorb any energy he comes into contact with, David Banner absorbs the electricity of an entire city, the gamma radiation of his own son, and the properties of the very elements around him. Hulk is punched through a storm cloud, frozen in a lake, and nearly drowned before the military finally launches a bomb at them. Who knows what happened to David, but Bruce really took the L there.