Whether you’re a film geek or a comic book purist, we all can agree that the Incredible Hulk is undeniably one of the most powerful superheroes in the Marvel comic universe and the Marvel Cinematic Universe alike. He can be unpredictable and volatile (those are some major mood swings), but when channeled properly, “The Other Guy” is a real asset to any team he’s a part of.
Well known as an Avenger, the MCU version of the Hulk, played by Mark Ruffalo and Edward Norton, has taken the spotlight thanks to the monstrous success of the movies. Is he really cooler than his comic book counterpart, though? Let’s weigh the evidence.
10 Cooler: Bruce Banner
The MCU's Bruce Banner is by far cooler than any comic book version of him to date. Most comic book versions of him are being modeled after Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal of the gamma radiation scientist now, and with good reason.
His slightly awkward, scruffy, fluffy, no-nonsense rendition of Bruce Banner was lovable, relatable, and someone you could laugh at while also taking them incredibly seriously. The only version that rivals Ruffalo is, of course, Edward Norton’s Banner, who was a little more sorrowful, but no less convincing as the mentally tortured doctor. Here’s hoping they keep this trend.
9 Worse: No “Hulk Smash!”
There’s nothing more iconic than hearing The Hulk say his famous catchphrase: “HULK SMASH!” Whether he’s on an uncontrollable rampage or he’s directing his rage towards evil-doers, it never fails to excite fans when he brings his fists down in a trademark Hulk smash.
So, where was this in the MCU? There was one instance in the Edward Norton movie. In The Avengers, there were little nods and references that were pretty cool (we all squealed when Captain America gave Hulk permission to smash), but it could never really replace the satisfaction of hearing the authentic article. The classics can’t be beaten.
8 Cooler: “I’m Always Angry”
What was that about other memorable lines? There’s nothing that calls a movie fan's mind to that iconic scene more than Banner’s last words before he let the Big Guy loose on the Chitauri. This was yet another testament to Ruffalo’s acting prowess, and maybe to the script as well.
The build-up was perfect and the musical score heightened the suspense and pay-off of those words. Then, the famous line was punctuated by a classic HULK SMASH directed at a giant alien beast coming for the Avengers. There’s nothing in the comics that can top that moment... at least, not yet.
7 Worse: The Hulk has no personality
For several of the movies (basically until Thor: Ragnarok), the Big Guy was just a giant, green rage monster. One of the coolest things about the Hulk is that he has a very distinct personality from Banner. In fact, at one point, he hates Banner because he considers him weak.
This wasn’t even hinted at until later on in the movie series. Hulk’s consciousness and personality were played down and he became just a big, dumb, souped-up and rage-fueled version of Banner that he liked to disassociate himself from. It was disappointing.
6 Cooler: Hulk is hilarious
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has never taken itself too seriously (unlike some franchises), and thank goodness! A character like the Hulk, even with all his rage, also presents the perfect opportunity for comic relief. He’s a big, green, angry beast throwing a tantrum, and it’s fun to see that pointed out.
It isn’t that this humor isn’t represented in the comics, but sometimes it reads a little flat. Reading the Hulk's humorous dialogue, versus hearing the actor say the lines as the big lug whines and seeing him pout in real-time, makes a world of difference to the funny bone.
5 Worse: Why is he angry, exactly?
As a movie-goer, it can be fun to have some mystery and unanswered questions in a storyline. It leaves room for fan speculation and opinion, which the Internet absolutely thrives on. However, Bruce Banner’s story is pretty well known.
In the comics, his anger issues stem from the cruel treatment of his father, which, in effect, laid the foundation for the birth of the Hulk. So, how come this was never mentioned in the MCU? The moment Wanda hit him with her magic, The Big Guy lost it, but the question is: what exactly did he see?
4 Cooler: Rivalry with Thor
The Hulk's rivalry with Thor is nothing short of legendary. In the comics, they nearly kill each other a number of times, and the Hulk has a special hatred for The God of Thunder because of the threat he poses to him physically. In the MCU, this iconic feud is turned on its head in the best way.
The animosity is there, for sure, but it takes on a petty, childish twist that is hilarious and endearing. Besides the initial fight in The Avengers, nothing between the two has been seriously antagonistic. Instead of being enemies, they’re reluctant friends and allies.
3 Worse: The Worf Effect
In Star Trek, the Klingon character Worf often took a beating in order to tell the audience: this bad guy is not to be trifled with! That’s how this awful trope was born. When Thanos and the Hulk met for the first time, they threw hands for a minute, then Hulk was beaten down without much effort.
That doesn’t make much sense in reality; Thanos is very powerful, but so is Hulk. The fight should have at least left Thanos with some bumps and bruises. Instead, it left the audience with disappointment and a sense of dread.
2 Cooler: His Team
While the Hulk of the comics has served as a hero on a solo basis and as part of many different teams, nothing can ever top the place he made for himself in our hearts as an Avenger in the MCU. Watching his character grow from a rage monster into a willing team participant was amazing.
Even better, Bruce’s relationships with his team members was sometimes heartwarming, sometimes sobering, and most times hilarious. The Avengers worked hard to bring Bruce out of his shell and helped The Hulk channel his rage in a productive way. No-one could ask for a better team, or better friends.
1 Worse: Bruce and Hulk's truce ("Professor Hulk")
No-one who is a true fan of Bruce Banner wants to see him suffer forever. On the other hand, no-one who is a true fan of the Hulk wants to see him completely eradicated. The Bruce Banner and Hulk fusion of Avengers: Endgame, for some, was not only visually disturbing but seemed really out of place.
There was no earthly way to take him seriously, which made all of the serious parts of the movie awkward for the viewer. It didn’t feel like Bruce or Hulk, but someone else entirely. Maybe that was the point.