Even before he became the fan-favorite character of the Avengers, the Hulk was one of the most recognizable Marvel superheroes in the world. Though he skipped out on the Civil War, everyone’s favorite not-so-jolly green giant will be returning to cinemas later this year when he buddies up with the God of Thunder in Thor: Ragnarok, marking his fifth major big screen appearance to date — or sixth, if you count that cameo in Iron Man 3.
Throughout all of these appearances, the Hulk has been depicted in his most classic form: when Dr. Bruce Banner gets mad, he gets green, and he transforms into an “enormous green rage monster,” one that possesses limited intelligence but a good heart. However, comic book fans know that this standard depiction of the Hulk is far from the only weird shape that Dr. Banner has mutated into. While the classic Hulk, often called the “Savage” incarnation, is no doubt the most iconic, there are a variety of other strange Hulks swimming around in the murky depths of Banner’s subconscious. A number of them have come out to play from time to time, often with disastrous results.
There have been a number of other strange gamma monsters throughout the Hulk’s history — who can forget those Hulk Dogs in Ang Lee’s 2003 movie? — but for the sake of simplicity, the focus here will be on the Hulk himself. If you thought changing into a big green musclebound monster was odd, just wait until you see the 15 Weirdest Incarnations Of The Hulk.
15. Joe Fixit
While the classic “Savage” Hulk is the one that everyone knows the best, the closest runner-up is definitely the Grey Hulk. This incarnation is one of the only ones on this list that has come within striking distance of cinematic fame, having nearly debuted in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
What many people may not realize is that the Grey Hulk is not a rage monster like his green counterpart. Instead, during the time in which he becomes the dominant personality inside Banner’s mind, he actually takes a job as a Las Vegas enforcer named Joe Fixit.
While the regular green Hulk is clearly the damaged child within Banner, a rampaging little boy striking out against the childhood abuse he suffered, Joe Fixit is the moody teenager that Banner repressed during his adolescence. This iteration possesses normal intelligence, but he’s cocky, morally-flexible, and comfortable using others to get what he wants. Joe Fixit is the ultimate angry teenager to the core: he’s rebellious, hates authority, likes loud music, and wants to be surrounded by women, wealth, and worship at all times. Fixit may not cause the same level of collateral damage as his green cousin, and he isn’t anywhere near as strong or powerful, but he’s a far more calculating figure who can’t be trusted.
14. Professor Hulk
Yes, the picture doesn’t lie. That’s a hyper-intelligent Hulk wielding high-tech guns, a sly grin, and bunny slippers.
The Professor Hulk was the dominant form for several years, and is sometimes referred to as the “Merged Hulk,” though the Professor certainly has a better ring to it. This Hulk comes about when the psychiatrist Doc Sampson delves into Bruce’s subconscious and convinces all three personalities (Bruce, Green, and Grey) to merge into one.
Thus, Banner becomes the Professor Hulk, a Green Goliath that never transforms back. The Professor is an idealized version of Bruce Banner, with all of Bruce’s intelligence but none of his social awkwardness, anxiety, or emotional baggage. The Professor also possesses the same overwhelming power of the Savage Hulk, combined with the brash confidence of Joe Fixit. The Professor believes himself to be the real Bruce Banner, but the other personalities — including Bruce — are actually simply dormant within his consciousness, with the Professor becoming a fourth personality. The dominance of the Professor Hulk incarnation leads to a period of relative calm, but eventually, the stormy waters return and Banner’s poor mind gets messy again.
13. Savage Banner
Everyone knows that the madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets, right? So the Professor Hulk, during his time as the dominant form, sees the potential danger that could occur if he gets angry and loses control, since he’s already the most powerful version of the Hulk that exists, which is definitely saying something.
So in order to protect himself and the world, the Professor installs a rather strange trap within in his mind: if he gets too angry, he automatically reverts back to puny Banner’s everyday human form — but with the personality of the Savage Hulk. So yes, picture Bruce Banner thrashing, yelling, and trying to smash things as if he is the Hulk, and you’ll get a pretty good picture of Savage Banner. Banner Smash! While the Savage Banner has none of the superpowers of the Hulk, since he’s contained within Bruce’s frail little human body, he’s every bit as relentless, angry, and uncontrollable as the Hulk that we all know and love.
12. Landlord Hulk, in Old Man Logan
Now, let’s go off to left field for a minute and take a look at Old Man Logan, the cult favorite comic book that helped inspire this year’s Logan, which will mark the final appearance of Hugh Jackman as the clawed mutant.
Old Man Logan, set in an alternate universe, tells the story of an aged Wolverine making a journey across a post-apocalyptic United States where different supervillains own each segment of the country. Logan’s home in California has become “Hulkland,” and is controlled by the Hulk family, led by a corrupted Bruce Banner who has lost his mind due to radiation exposure. This version of the Hulk has spawned many children, who serve as the “landlords” of Hulkland.
At the end of the story, Logan returns home from his journey across the country only to discover that the Hulk’s children have killed his family, under the orders of the big green guy himself. When confronted, this version of Banner — who, unlike Savage Banner, possesses the same powers as the Hulk even in his regular form— reveals that he ordered the hit because he was itching for a one-on-one fight with Wolverine, just like the good old days. After beating Logan, the Hulk then proceeds to gorily eat the old man’s body. Unfortunately for Hulk, as Logan is moving through his digestive system, the last X-Man’s healing factor kicks in, the claws pop out, and Logan slashes his way out of Hulk’s body, slaying the beast for good.
11. The Mindless Hulk
Returning back to the regular Marvel Universe, we have an incarnation normally called the “Mindless Hulk,” and that should be the first signifier about how dangerous this particular monster really is. Bruce Banner, having suffered from the rather unfortunate condition of Hulk-outs for many years, has often had a tendency to believe the worst about his green alter ego. Though we know that the Savage Hulk is a misunderstood hero, a childlike figure who gets pulled into conflicts he’d rather avoid, Bruce has always been terrified of what kind of damage the Hulk may cause to others.
This fear leads him right into the clutches of Nightmare, a Doctor Strange villain who rules over the Dimension of Dreams (and who, by the way, might be the villain of Doctor Strange 2). Seizing upon Banner’s worst fears, Nightmare brings them to life. He creates a Hulk in the vision of everything that Bruce is afraid of, resulting in a mindless beast with no morals, no thoughts, no loyalties, nothing but an unrelenting desire to crush anything in its path.
10. Guilt Hulk
Mindless Hulk is bad, but things only get scarier from here. Meet Guilt Hulk, the living personification of all of Bruce Banner’s fear, shame, and mistakes.
Though the Marvel Cinematic Universe hasn’t yet depicted Bruce’s childhood, the 2003 movie delved into some of its darkest corners. Bruce’s fractured personality, and the existence of the Hulk, is the direct result of the terrible child abuse that Bruce endured at the hands of his father. In a 1991 storyline by Peter David, Bruce journeys inside his own mind, where he sees his father represented by the figure of the Guilt Hulk, a reptilian giant that tortures Bruce with the same abusive language that his father used upon him as a child; for all these years, Bruce has blamed himself for the way his father treated him, as well as the death of his mother at his father’s hands. By confronting the memories that he had repressed, Bruce is able to escape from the grasp of the Guilt Hulk inside him.
Years later, the Guilt Hulk returns from the depths of Bruce’s mind, after Bruce’s wife Betty is killed. Bruce blames himself for this newest tragedy, and his emotional state is further weakened when he begins suffering from the later stages of ALS. The Guilt Hulk takes advantage of Bruce’s vulnerability, attempting to overthrow his control. Luckily, Guilt Hulk is stopped in these efforts by the combined forces of Banner, the Savage Hulk, Joe Fixit, and the Professor.
9. Devil Hulk
It gets even worse. While Guilt Hulk is self-destructive, born of Banner’s shame and lack of confidence, the so-called Devil Hulk is the creation of Bruce’s resentment: repressed throughout his life, submerged, and then unleashed. In comparison to Guilt Hulk, whose hostility is turned inward, Devil Hulk’s aggression is turned outward, toward the world — a world it believes has been unfair to Bruce, and thus deserves violence, death, and destruction. This doesn’t mean it has any fond feelings toward Bruce or his loved ones, or that they will be spared if the Devil Hulk emerges into the real world.
Though Devil Hulk has tried to escape from its imprisoned state inside Bruce Banner, it has so far been restrained by the other personalities sharing space inside his mind, all of whom know the apocalyptic consequences that could result from Devil Hulk breaking free.
More recently, however, a different incarnation of the Devil Hulk has appeared, as the reincarnated personification of Bruce’s father. This resurrected monster feeds off of Bruce’s hatred and anger, thus meaning that the stronger Hulk gets, the stronger Devil Hulk gets. In order to defeat his father, Bruce chooses to focus on his positive emotions, and finally is able to turn the tide.
One of the most iconic facets of the Hulk’s story is the character’s relation to human emotions. Everyone knows that the Hulk is generated by Bruce Banner’s anger. That’s why he is who he is, and it’s why Banner has to constantly find ways to control his temper. But during the AXIS storyline, things get changed up a bit. An “inversion” spell cast by the Scarlet Witch causes Marvel’s superheroes and supervillains to become inverted from their regular personalities, resulting in such strange things as Tony Stark becoming a megalomaniacal supervillain in Superior Iron Man, to Carnage trying to be a superhero (!). Among these inversions is the birth of Kluh, the “Hulk’s Hulk,” created by sadness rather than rage.
Kluh is a personality that emerges from the Hulk, rather than Banner. So when the Green Goliath gets sad, he turns into Kluh, complete with dark grey skin and a white mohawk. After the inversion spell is reversed by a “reinversion” spell performed by the Red Skull, Kluh is no more. As far as we know, anyway.
7. Ultimate Hulk, the People-Eater
Mark Millar, who also wrote Old Man Logan, seems to have a fascination with the idea of Hulk eating people, even though it’s pretty much only his versions of the Hulk who do so. Though the Ultimate Universe — a contemporary re-imagining of Marvel’s biggest heroes — is no more, its fresh takes on many popular characters inspired many elements of the MCU, particularly Nick Fury. Thankfully, the incredibly weird and homicidal Ultimate Hulk never made it out of the comics.
This alternate universe version of the Green Goliath is similar in conception to the regular Hulk, but wildly different in personality. While the Bruce Banner we know from the comics and movies may suffer from some severe self-doubt and emotional baggage, his intentions have always been noble. The Ultimate Bruce Banner, on the other hand, is a selfish and self-absorbed creep who purposely injects himself with an experimental version of a new super-soldier formula, transforming him into a wildly murderous incarnation of the Hulk. This monstrous creature, rather than causing collateral damage, purposely tries to kill as many people as possible, causing massive bloodshed. He’s the wanton manifestation of the worst aspects of the id, capable of coldblooded murder, sexual assault, and cannibalism. Needless to say, this Hulk is pretty far from being a hero.
6. Aboriginal Hulk
The AXIS storyline mentioned earlier isn’t the first time that Scarlet Witch’s powers have messed around with reality, or with Bruce Banner. In House of M, the Scarlet Witch suffers from a total nervous breakdown. In an attempt to bring back her lost children, Scarlet Witch alters the fabric of the universe itself, sending ripples through every major city, world, and character. Though the House of M changes were soon reversed, the Hulk was one of many characters impacted by Scarlet Witch’s chaos magic.
In this altered reality, the Hulk flees across the ocean after destroying General Ross’ base, landing deep in the Australian Outback, far away from society. Bruce wakes up in the care of an Australian Aboriginal tribe, and he becomes one of them, secluding himself from the messy global world. Slowly, Bruce learns from Aboriginal culture how to find peace within himself, and to better control the raging impulses inside him. However, the Hulk is forced back into action when Magneto’s new totalitarian mutant government takes over Australia.
5. The Maestro
The Hulk is the nuclear bomb of comics. One of the biggest reasons that so many Marvel characters are terrified of the green giant is because he’s one of the few beings who truly is unstoppable enough to crush society beneath his heel. If the Hulk’s strength was also armed with Banner’s genius intelligence, as was the case with the Professor Hulk, then the monster would be capable of taking over the world, and there’s really no one that could stop him.
In one possible future, that’s exactly what happens. Meet the Maestro, the ultimate evolution of the Hulk, who serves as a dark warning about what a corrupted Bruce Banner could one day become.
After nuclear devastation ravages the planet, all remaining life falls under the power of the Maestro, who rules with an iron fist. When today’s Hulk is brought to the future, in an effort to overthrow the terrible dictator, the Maestro easily overpowers his younger self. In the end, the Maestro is only defeated when he is ripped back through time, and brought to the precise moment of the Gamma Bomb explosion that created the Hulk; thus, the Maestro dies in the exact moment that the Hulk is born.
4. Earth X Hulk
Up until this point, one thing that all of the various Professor, Devil, Fixit, and Kluh Hulks have had in common is that all of them existed within the same body — namely, the one that technically belongs to Bruce Banner. But now, it’s time to take that central dynamic and give it a weird tilt. Earth X, a series that offered a dark, futuristic take on the Marvel Universe, took the very concept of the Hulk into entirely new places.
The strange future of Earth X depicts a world wherein almost every human on Earth gains superpowers. This leads to the Marvel heroes as we know them evolving in unforeseen ways. As far as Bruce Banner goes, he finally is able to separate himself from the Hulk, leading to both of them occupying separate physical bodies. However, despite the animosity that the two have shared for so long, the Banner and Hulk in Earth X come to rely on one another as constant companions, allies, and arguably even friends. They move through the world, side by side, counting on one another like a boy and his dog. In fact, by the time we meet them, Bruce actually is a boy again — he’s become a blind child, who only sees the world through the Hulk’s eyes. As far as the green guy goes, his appearance evolves into something noticeably more ape-like than what we’re used to.
3. Infernal Hulk
Bruce Banner is a man of science, not one of magic. Like his friend Tony Stark, Bruce strives to find logical solutions to problems, calling upon his brilliant intellect, studies, and education to get him out of tough spots. Admittedly, this also once described Stephen Strange, and he ended up becoming Marvel’s single most important magical character. But based on the results of at least one alternate reality where Bruce did embrace the magical path, we’d argue that he’s better off sticking with science.
In this parallel universe, Bruce Banner becomes the Sorcerer Supreme, that vaunted position that was occupied by the Ancient One in this year’s Doctor Strange. As he ascends upward through the magical ranks, Bruce is finally separated from the grumpy Green Goliath that has haunted him for so long. Unfortunately, this separation results in the Hulk being sent on an express elevator right down to Hell. Yes, that Hell.
Later on, when the Hulk comes back, the sinister forces of Hell have had their way with him. Thanks to their influence, he has been transformed into the Infernal Hulk, a demonic entity with nothing but evil in its heart. The Infernal Hulk makes a relentless effort to murder Bruce. The demon’s ambitions come to a halt when it is tricked into Hulk-Smashing the Eye of Agamotto, resulting in it being shot back down into the netherworld.
2. Hulk 2099
What do you get when you cross the Incredible Hulk with Venom, and then place this scary merged creature into the dystopian future? If you guessed Hulk 2099, you got it right.
Spider-Man 2099 may be the most popular 2099 character today, but he was far from the only hero of the future. The Hulk of the year 2099 is John Eisenhart, a big shot studio executive. Eisenhart gets involved in the whole Hulk scene when he starts looking into a cult called the Knights of Banner, who spend their time worshiping the Hulk. The Knights of Banner also are running illegal experiments with gamma rays, trying to make a new Hulk. Eisenhart tries to buy the rights to their story, and when they won’t play ball, he calls up the cops — resulting in a terrible slaughter, with many Knights getting killed. Eisenhart realizes his mistake, and joins up with the Knights just in time to get right in the middle of a gamma explosion that transforms him into the new Hulk that the Knights wanted to create all along.
Hulk 2099 possesses much the same powers as the big, strong, invulnerable Hulk of the present day. In addition, he also has sharp claws, sharp teeth, and that crazy prehensile tongue that any symbiote would drool over.
1. “The Mighty Hulk”
Believe it or not, Bruce Banner wasn’t the first Hulk that Stan Lee wrote about. Back in 1960, just a few years before Banner was a glimmer in Lee’s eye, a character named Albert Poole made his debut in Strange Tales #75, calling himself “the mighty Hulk.” While Poole’s story plays out very differently, there’s nonetheless some common genetic material between both Lee’s earlier Hulk story and the Hulk that would become such a major character only a few years later. Albert Poole is depicted as a small, frail man — much like Bruce Banner — who, through science, becomes an enormous “Hulk.” However, while Banner’s transformation is the result of a tragic accident, Poole’s is very much intentional. Poole is a spiteful man who becomes sick of enduring the mockery of others, and after failing to create a growth formula that can make him taller, instead decides to build a giant robot that he can climb inside of and operate. Strange fella, that Poole.
Unfortunately for him, Poole forgets to bring the starter key inside. As a result, Pool finds that he has not only locked himself inside the robot, but is also unable to start it running. As a result, Poole is trapped within the armor for the rest of his life.
This story was later reprinted in Tomb of Darkness #22, and the character was renamed Grutan so as to avoid confusion. It’s actually an interesting little story, well in line with the horror/sci-fi tales that were popular at the time, and worth a read.
Were there any other Hulks that we missed? Big, small, scary, or otherwise, let us know which bizzaro Hulk was your favorite in the comments!