For all of Marvel Comics’ superheroes created and printed across more than 80 years of history, they don’t come much more iconic than the idol o’ millions, the Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing. Ben Grimm has been a staple of Marvel Comics since he first debuted alongside Reed Richards, Susan Storm and Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four #1, written by Stan Lee and penciled by Jack Kirby in 1961. Grimm first appeared as a regular, run-of-the mill human, but before long, he transformed into the orange rock creature we know and love today.
Given that the character has been around since the early ’60s, there have been hundreds of writers and artists who have made their mark on him. After all that time, the character has changed significantly, but how well do you know him, or his big orange body? This list isn’t going to delve into the character’s story so much as it will examine the various aspects of his physiology and powers. What makes the Thing… the Thing? Is his orange skin a sort of armor or does it go deeper into his organs? Find out these interesting facts and more in this list of 15 Weird Facts About The Thing’s Body!
15. HE BEAT THE HULK… ONCE
Who would win in a fight between the Thing and the Hulk? There have been numerous clashes between the two giants, but in nearly every battle, the result is either a draw or the Hulk handily defeats ol’ Ben. When the Thing was first introduced, he was actually stronger than the Hulk. This all changed over time and whenever the two meet, Grimm usually utilizes his greatest strength in fighting the green giant: his teammates.
Grimm only ever beat the Hulk once and he didn’t do it alone. In Fantastic Four #166-167, the team is battling the Hulk. Reed wraps around him, Sue blocks his airflow to weaken him, and Ben lands a knockout blow. Their best contest of strength occurred in Incredible Hulk Annual #18 when the pair arm-wrestled one another. It ended in a stalemate like most of their battles, but it was a great example of their ongoing struggle to see who could beat the other.
14. HE ISN’T ALWAYS THE THING
Through most of his publication history, Ben Grimm has been locked in his rocky form. Unlike his other teammates, who could revert to or exist in their normal human shape, Grimm was stuck. This fact has been a plot device throughout his history, but he hasn’t always been trapped in such a way. At times, he has been able to revert to human form or was stuck in it entirely without any powers to speak of.
In some cases, Grimm reverted to human form inexplicably and for long periods of time. In another story-arc, he gained the ability to simply switch from human form to Thing form at will. None of these storylines stuck for very long and Ben Grimm has been more or less the Thing for most of his history.
13. DOUBLE THE MUTATION DOUBLE THE FUN
The members of the Fantastic Four have all been mutated by Cosmic Rays, giving them their powers. For Ben Grimm, his powers came with a nasty orange wrapper, making him the less fortunate one in the group. Sure, he’s strong and can take a beating, but he isn’t much to look at. For a few hundred issues, he dealt with his loss of humanity and may even have been on the brink of accepting it, but then Fantastic Four #310 came along and changed everything.
Ben was once again exposed to cosmic rays, which didn’t revert him to human form; in fact, the new exposure only served to make him even rockier than he was before. His strength increased exponentially, but his form went from somewhat smooth to spiky and even less human in appearance. Eventually, things went back to normal, but for a while, the Thing became a spiky rock monster.
12. HE ONCE HAD TO WEAR A THING-SUIT
After Ben got too close to the Hulk’s Gamma radiation, he reverted to his human form without any powers to speak of. This became something of a problem for the team since they already had the number “4” printed on everything and changing it to the Fantastic Three just didn’t sound good. To fix this, Reed designed a robotic Thing Suit for Ben to wear so he wouldn’t feel left out.
For all intents and purposes, the suit looked exactly like the Thing only it contained a tinier human within. It approximated much of his powers, durability and strength. Fortunately, this didn’t last long in the books and Ben regained his powers. He transformed into his original Thing form and made sure to keep the Thing Suit on hand in case something like that ever happened again, which of course, it did.
11. HIS SKIN IS TOUGHER THAN YOU THINK
We already know the Thing’s skin is tough, but how tough is it? He can, and has taken blow after blow by the likes of the Hulk, so you know he can take a beating, but what makes him so tough has everything to do with what his skin is and how it works. It’s made of an organic rock, which means it reacts to external stimuli in pretty much the same manner as other rocks.
His skin can endure extreme changes in atmospheric pressure and temperatures ranging from -75 to 800° Fahrenheit (-59.4 to 426.6° Celsius). He can exist comfortably at the ocean floor (though he would still need oxygen). When injured, he doesn’t bleed, but chips! Bits of rocky flesh will fly off, though it is not fully known as to whether or not this causes him pain or how long he takes to rebuild his lost bits — it varies from writer to writer.
10. HE CAN GO FULL-FORCE FOR UP TO AN HOUR
When you’re talking about a giant rock monster, you probably don’t think of him as being very agile. Rocks are usually associated with slow movement… or a complete lack of movement when you think about it. The Thing is a different story altogether. Sure, he’s covered with interlocking rocky plates, but that doesn’t mean he has to sit around waiting for an iceberg to move him off the couch.
Grimm is a trained fighter pilot who has had extensive hand-to-hand combat training over the years. He isn’t slowed by his rocky exterior and can move about for a good 60 minutes before ever getting winded. Additionally, he is highly skilled at Judo and Jujitsu, making him particularly deadly when it is finally clobberin’ time.
9. HE BEAT WOLVERINE WITH ONE PUNCH
Wolverine isn’t the strongest Mutant in the Marvel Universe, but he does have one thing on his side that makes him in a class all his own. With his Adamantium-covered skeleton and healing factor, he is almost impossible to take out. This guy can take a punch from the Hulk and still get up for more. While most people would have a concussion and most of their brains on the Hulk’s fist, Wolverine’s healing factor makes that almost impossible.
It would seem that a character like the Thing could knock Wolverine about, but couldn’t knock him out by punching him, but that’s exactly what happened in Fantastic Four #374. After Wolverine accidentally claws Thing’s face, he lashes out and smashes him with his fist, knocking the Mutant out for pretty much the rest of the book.
8. HE ONLY AGES WHEN IN HUMAN FORM
One of the benefits… or curses… of being a rock monster is that you never age. That’s the consensus as to what happens to Ben Grimm’s body while he is in his Thing form. Given that he is almost never in his human form, this means Ben Grimm has aged perhaps only a few months since becoming the Thing. That’s a significant advantage and disadvantage of his particular mutation, making his body unique among his teammates.
Ben’s aging… or lack thereof… isn’t often explored in the comics, which could have more to do with the fact that Marvel doesn’t age its characters across decades of storylines than anything else. In a way, this makes Grimm able to live for a very long time, though he technically is not immortal. He could conceivably live forever were he to never to revert to human form, but this is only speculation until Marvel decides to tackle the issue.
7. HE’S MISSING SOME PIECES
You might notice Ben Grimm in Thing form has a few things missing. The Thing has no external ears and as far as you can tell, he doesn’t have ear holes either. This doesn’t, in any way, limit his hearing, as he has never shown any deficiency in this area. Additionally, he only has three fingers and a thumb on his hands when he is in Thing form, but when he reverts to his normal human state, he has a normal number of fingers, toes and ears.
The Thing hasn’t shown too many problems due to his lack of a fourth finger or the massive nature of his rocky digits. He holds a pencil in a funny way and can’t dial a phone like a normal human, but thanks to his buddy Reed Richards ,who makes special equipment for him whenever he needs something, this is rarely a problem.
6. HIS INTERNAL ORGANS ARE INCREDIBLY DENSE
There has been some degree of mystery when it comes to what’s on the inside of Ben Grimm’s crusty outer layer. One thing we do know is that his internal organs have all increased in density to compensate for his massive size and abilities. This was somewhat glossed over in the 2005 film (pictured) when it was revealed Grimm’s internal organs were all rocky, as well. This isn’t necessarily how Grimm’s internal structures have been depicted in the comics.
The character has evolved significantly since he was first depicted and his organs have changed to keep up. Initially, he was much smaller—perhaps 6′ tall and 500 lbs, but in modern depictions, he is 7′ 1″ and 1200 lbs. This is significant given his internal organs would have to increase in size and density to compensate for his increased size.
5. HE’S A WEIGHT LIFTER
You would think that a guy who could easily pick up a car would be satisfied with his strength, but Ben Grimm isn’t that guy. When he was first introduced, he could only lift a measly five tons up over his head. While this is more than most people can pick up in the Marvel Universe, it’s hardly where the character is now. The modern incarnation of the Thing can lift around 85 tons over his head, which is a big difference from his 1961 version.
Not content to remain at a such a level, Grimm began intensive weight-training to increase his abilities. With strength training, he has increased his max weightlifting ability to 100 tons. He has been able to lift even more in some situations. He once held up a 30,000 ton building from falling before he was able to push it back into place.
4. HE WAS BADLY WOUNDED BY WOLVERINE
Just because you happen to be made of rock doesn’t mean you can’t be hurt. Granted, it takes a lot to cut him, but there was a time when Wolverine accidentally took a swipe at the Thing’s face and slashed it to bits. This went down in Fantastic Four #374 and the whole thing was pretty much an accident. Grimm reacted by knocking the crap out of Wolverine, but the damage was done and his face was badly injured.
The injury caused significant pain to Grimm both physically and mentally. It also remained a constant problem for 34 issues, which ended up being more than three years. Grimm even wore a helmet for a while to protect the exposed flesh. It took some time, but he was finally healed when Hyperstorm wielded the Power Cosmic and wiped the scars from his face forever.
3. FILM THING VARIES WILDLY
As of 2018, there have been three live-action films featuring the characters of the Fantastic Four. None of them did very well financially or critically, but each of them had a different take on the characters, especially when it came to Ben Grimm’s the Thing. In the 1994 Roger Corman film, the character was little more than a rubber-suited monster played by Carl Ciarfalio. In the 2005 film, Michael Chiklis portrayed a character closer to the comics, but there were still a number of differences, some of which we have already highlighted.
The 2015 Fantastic Four film featured a version of the Thing, which was closer in height and ability to the comic book version, but audiences remained unimpressed. For Hollywood to get the character right, produers would have to find a way to mesh the performance of Chiklis with the motion-capture of Jamie Bell… then, they might just have something.
2. HE ONCE BECAME A GREAT WALL
Every now and again, the superheroes and villains of Marvel get transported to Battleworld in a crossover event called Secret Wars. In the most recent iteration of this event, Ben Grimm had to step in and provide some security in an obvious, but strange way. On Battleworld, there is a structure called The Shield, which stands to isolate three of the deadliest domains from the rest of the planet. The Shield is often under attack and during the event, it was breached, which required some inventive thinking on behalf of Dr. Doom.
Doom, acting as All-Father Doom at the time, convinced Grimm to become a part of The Shield to fill the gap. After all, he was already composed of rock so this made sense, but it turned out Doom lied to him and he eventually rose from his position and left the gap remaining.
1. HE BECAME AN EVIL THOR
During the crossover event “Fear Itself,” Ben came under the influence of Jörmungandr, the World Serpent. A Hammer fell on Yancy Street, which placed it on Grimm’s territory. Despondent over the death of Johnny, he falls victim to it and is transformed into Angrir: Breaker of Souls. Under this Asgardian influence, Ben, aka, Angrir destroys all of Yancy street and kills dozens of people nearby. His powers are greatly enhanced by the hammer and transformation.
As Angrir, Grimm is far more powerful than ever before. He defeats Red Hulk in battle and destroys Avengers Tower. He is finally put down by Thor when Mjolnir pierces his skin. As he lay dying, Franklin Richards, a living deus ex machina, flushes the Angrir persona from his godfather and restores him to his original form.
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