Bruce Banner, the Incredible Hulk, has long since been considered the strongest hero on earth. At the very least, the Hulk definitely makes sure everyone knows it, constantly yelling that “Hulk is the strongest one there is!”. With gamma-fueled strength, a healing factor, and his notorious ability for getting stronger as he gets madder, fans tend to believe the Hulk is unbeatable. One school of thought subscribes to the theory the Hulk’s strength is technically limitless, as who’s to say what is his anger’s limit. On the other hand, there’s another reasonable bunch of folks claiming the Hulk needs time to build up his anger; the longer a fight lasts, the better chance the Hulk has to win; but he needs that time.
The Hulk’s been beaten numerous time, much to the character’s annoyance, though he usually chalks it up to cheating or unmitigated circumstances. No matter what your feeling on the Hulk’s power level, it’s impossible to dismiss that he’s fought some of the strongest characters in all of comics and proved time and again that no one wants to fight him. With that in mind, we’re taking a look at 15 weaknesses of the Hulk you (probably) didn’t know about.
Nobody likes magic, least of all superheroes like Superman and the Hulk. While the Hulk might not share the Man of Steel’s crippling weakness to the oftentimes-dark energy, magic and the Hulk definitely do not get along. Doctor Strange, one of Hulk’s best friends, is also one of his greatest enemies. In the Incredible Hulk #300, Hulk is rampaging through New York; waves of heroes try and fail to stop him.
Finally Doctor Strange intervenes and casually banishes the Hulk to another dimension. In "World War Hulk", Strange uses dark magic to combat the Hulk and would’ve won, if not for getting consumed in rage and then being tricked by Bruce Banner. Additionally, Hulk doesn’t seem to have much resistance to Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, usually trying to make the God of Thunder fight without it. There’s also Zeus’s magic lightning, which is more than match for Hulk.
The Hulk likes bragging about how he’s the strongest one there is; though to him it’s stating an absolute. Yet his refusal to believe there are people stronger than him has gotten Hulk into trouble many times. No matter the opponent, the Hulk doesn’t care; firmly believing he’ll win. One such example was in the 2004 Marvel Team-Up #13, when he and a bunch of superheroes went to battle the Skrull Titannus.
Without waiting to formulate a plan, the Hulk rushed into battle, thinking victory was his. He quickly got knocked out. When he came to, he went in again, thinking it would be impossible to lose and he lost once more. There was also the time outside of battle, when Hulk thought he knew what was best for everyone and traveled around the globe removing powers from his gamma-related friends. It didn’t sit well with his companions.
The Hulk’s physical strength, paired with his healing factor, is ridiculous. The madder he gets, the stronger he gets. With all that power, also comes super tough skin. Able to withstand bullets, energy blasts, and everything in-between, it takes a special something to physically hurt the Hulk. Enter: adamantium.
Despite his smaller stature,Wolverine has constantly remained a thorn in the Hulk’s side and is one of the few beings who can go toe-to-toe with him. They both have healing factors, and while Hulk’s strength is superior, Wolverine has his adamantium claws. Adamantium can cut nearly anything, including the Hulk’s tissue. In "World War Hulk", General Thunderbolt Ross loads his military unit up with adamantium bullets and shells to take down the Hulk; they don’t, but they do seriously wound him.
You’ve certainly heard the expression “too much of a good thing” and the same can be said for the Hulk and his relationship with gamma radiation. The Hulk was born via a gamma bomb. By all accounts Bruce Banner should have died in the resulting explosion, but instead, it only gave his deep-seeded pain and anger physical form.
In the storyline "Future Imperfect", Professor Hulk ends up time traveling to the future where he meets his tyrannical, much more powerful, future self, the Maestro. Completely overwhelmed by the Maestro’s power, the Hulk is forced to resort to trickery, getting Maestro to time travel to the past and land right in front of the gamma bomb that birthed the original Hulk into existence. As the bomb goes off, the explosion and the extra gamma radiation is too much. It kills the Maestro stone dead.
Unbeknownst to some, the Hulk’s sexual prowess is the stuff of legend. Nearly every female he beds only has the highest of compliments for the Hulk and his performance. The problem is, sometimes Hulk will get distracted in the midst of a fight if the opponent he’s fighting captures more than just his imagination. He’s faced demons like Dormammu’s sister Umar the Unrelenting, and instead of fighting her properly, got seduced.
The two had a merry good time and when they’d…finished, the Hulk reverted back to Bruce Banner. In Ultimate Hulk #1, the Hulk battles Zarda, the Marvel equivalent of Wonder Woman, mainly over the fact that the Hulk refuses to put on pants. While the Hulk loses, a punch to the groin not helping matters, he’s still able to seduce Zarda once the dust settles.
What the Hulk wants, the Hulk gets. The same could be said for food. It should come as no surprise that the Hulk can eat nearly anything he wants and doesn’t have to worry about things like pesky calories, thanks to his enormous frame and powers. Unfortunately, eating people, especially people like the X-Man Wolverine, is never a good idea.
Towards the end of the "Old Man Logan" story arc, Wolverine discovers the Hulk has killed Logan’s family. Waging a one-man war on Hulk’s family in retaliation, it eventually comes down to the two former superheroes. Their fight is bloody and brutal, but finally, in a bold decision, the Hulk picks up and devours Wolverine. Hours later, the Hulk is dealing with a bad case of indigestion; he didn’t count on Wolverine’s healing factor. Wolverine rips out through the Hulk, killing him.
Except for those rare instances when the Hulk’s strength and Banner’s intellect align, the Hulk is often seen as a force of nature; an elemental being who lives by way of his own power. The Hulk’s muscles are indeed mighty, but alas, his mind is often a different matter entirely. The Hulk has been mind-controlled multiple times and by different enemies.
During the event "Onslaught: Marvel Universe", Onslaught controls the Hulk into nearly killing the X-Man Cable. In Incredible Hulk #403, the Juggernaut capture him, brings him to the Red Skull and Mentallo, and Mentallo turns him into their servant. There was also that time Tyrannus controlled the Hulk into destroying an airplane full of people. The list of villains who have mentally manipulated the Hulk extends as long as Hulk’s arm.
Anyone who’s read a Hulk comic knows his psyche is a little more than fractured. Working with plenty of personalities in that giant head of his, the Hulk and Bruce Banner are constantly in a state of flux. You see, there’s more than just the Hulk running around in Bruce’s mind, as he’s really just the physical manifestation of Banner’s rage, but there’s an entire truckload of Hulks. You have Gray, Savage, the Professor…it really doesn’t end.
Each Hulk has their own unique personality and each feels differently towards Banner. On Banner’s darkest days, there’s even the Guilt Hulk and the Devil Hulk; the one constant is that none of these Hulks get along with one another. Regardless as to which Hulk pops up, you can rest assured it won’t do Bruce Banner any favors.
We mentioned how the Hulk’s ego leads him to bite off more than he can chew. And that’s seen here too. While the Hulk is certainly vulnerable to magical attacks, he’s also vulnerable, and been beaten by those who command the greatest magics: gods. Hulk and Thor have squared off well over a dozen times, and a victor is often rare, but the Hulk has also fought even more formidable deities.
In The Incredible Hulk #622, the Hulk lays siege to Mount Olympus. Fighting an onslaught of mythical beasts, Hulk eventually gets to the top of Mount Olympus. There he meets Zeus, the original Thunder God and the Sky-Father. Leagues above Thor, Zeus is not to be trifled with. While the Hulk gets in a good punch, it merely annoys the thunder lord, who proceeds to deliver one of the worst beatings in the Hulk’s life.
Betty Ross is one of the driving forces for both Bruce Banner and the Hulk. They each love her unconditionally and would do nearly anything for her. This has resulted in many villains, including Betty’s father, using that love to their advantage and setting all manner of traps. General Thaddeus Ross has made it his life mission to hunt the Hulk to the ends of the earth and has used his daughter as bait when necessary.
Other bad guys, like the Abomination have tried more subtle approaches. In The Incredible Hulk #466 Betty Ross, the love of Bruce’s life dies. The Abomination somehow poisoned her and despite Banner’s efforts, he’s unable to save her. Betty’s death is so devastating to Bruce, that just moments after she dies, he tries to commit suicide.
While the Hulk might be one of Earth’s strongest mortals, when it comes to the universe as a whole, things get a bit trickier for him. Time and again the Hulk has been thrust into cosmic battles or faced down beings of cosmic origin, and time again the Hulk struggles in the face of cosmically-powered opponents. The Silver Surfer, wielder of the Power Cosmic, has fought Hulk on numerous occasions and defeated him in nearly all of them.
Despite his gentle-looking frame, the Surfer is the host to immense power and can beat the Hulk without even touching him. The Power Cosmic is nearly without limit and can be used in multiple ways, like reverting the Hulk back to Bruce Banner without the Surfer even needing to throw a punch.
For all of the Hulk’s power, his body still adheres to some basic human biology, like the need to breath. Sure, there are going to be some of you, who will likely point out the Hulk developed the ability to adapt to his surroundings, like being underwater, and develop gills. However, in most instances, that hasn’t been the case. We’ve seen the Hulk battle Namor, the Sub-Mariner, and lose. After dragging Hulk to the bottom of the ocean, the Hulk ran out of air and passed out.
When imbued with cosmic powers, Spider-Man hit him into space and the Hulk pontificated on how he’d eventually run out of air and die. In the Indestructible Hulk, Attuma, one of Namor’s villains, also nearly drowns the Hulk. The point is, the Hulk needs air to live.
The worst thing to ever happen to Brice Banner, aside from becoming the Hulk, was his father Brian Banner making young Bruce’s life a living hell. Despite Brian’s own father abusing him, it didn’t stop him from physically harming Bruce. When Bruce came along, after Brian met and married the woman Rebecca, he abused them both. Then one day he killed her right in front of Bruce. The incident traumatized Bruce Banner; he’d carry the trauma with him for his whole life.
Even after Brian died, Bruce feared his father. The fear was so intense Hulk acquired the ability to see spirits so he could constantly be on the lookout for his father’s return, ghostly or otherwise. His father would return when the Chaos King brought him back as a massive monster, but it offered Bruce/Hulk some catharsis, as they had no choice but to battle and defeat the creature.
Batman and Superman are two cornerstone heroes of the DC Universe. The Dark Knight and the Man of Steel are the most recognizable superheroes on earth, so of course comic book readers would want to know what happens when two of DC’s best slug it out with one of Marvel’s most powerful. The answer is DC wins.
The Hulk has fought Superman three times, and he’s lost two out of the three, with the third match ending in a draw of sorts. When the Hulk battled Batman, you’d think it would be an easy win for the radioactive behemoth, not so. Using his devilish ingenuity, Batman forced the Hulk to hold his breath by releasing sleeping gas and then, to the mortification of many fans, kicked the Hulk so hard it knocked the wind out of the superhuman monster; he inhaled the gas and was knocked out.
No matter how good the Hulk is or the heroic actions he performs, Bruce Banner realizes he needs to be a way to calm the rampaging beast. For years, he’d tried everything under the sun to little or no success. Finally, Banner came up with the ultimate plan: puppies, because who doesn’t love puppies?
In Indestructible Hulk Special #1, Banner and S.H.I.E.L.D. devise the puppy bomb to sooth the Hulk after he’s finished smashing. With an insight to the Hulk’s mind that is unparalleled, Banner knows exactly what’s required to stop the Hulk, but even he is pleasantly surprised to discover that a number of small, adorable, puppies have the power to stop the Hulk in his tracks. Soothing him, the Hulk reverts back to his human form. Thankfully, Hulk’s enemies have not discovered this super cute weakness.
Are there any other Hulk weaknesses we missed? Let us know in the comments!