Even the most powerful superheroes sometimes need to be saved themselves, and The Hulk is no exception. Although there are few threats in the Marvel Universe that the Jade Giant can’t handle by himself thanks to his healing factor, near-invulnerability, and virtually limitless strength, the Hulk is not invincible. Furthermore, enemies who are aware that Dr. Bruce Banner and the Hulk are one and the same often take the wiser route of targeting his human form rather than his gamma-spawned alter-ego.
In situations where Bruce is incapacitated or somehow unable to transform into the Hulk, the good doctor usually ends up needing to be rescued himself instead of rescuing others from mortal danger. Over the decades, help for the Hulk has come in a variety of forms; ranging from close friends and family to fellow superheroes — and even some supervillains. Although most on-screen adaptations of the Hulk have portrayed him as primarily a loner, the times where the Emerald Behemoth was the one who ended up being rescued is proof of how many lives he has touched and his importance to the Marvel Universe.
Check out 15 Times The Hulk Needed To Be Rescued.
15. Ant-Man – The Incredible Hulk Vol. 2 #32 (2001)
With Bruce Banner’s life in jeopardy thanks to a deadly neurological disease, Ant-Man volunteers to shrink himself to microscopic size in order to administer a cure provided by the Hulk’s old nemesis, The Leader. Injected into the Hulk’s brain via the tip of an adamantium needle, Ant-Man fights off swarms of antibodies and replaces damaged portions of Bruce’s DNA with harvested samples from Bruce’s father, Brian Banner. Although the antibodies overwhelm Ant-Man at one point and force him to increase his size, he’s able to repel them with a gun that shoots…pineapple juice…designed by Mr. Fantastic.
Luckily, the surgery is successful and Bruce is cured of the disease, but afterward, he has mixed feelings about essentially being saved by his abusive father. After all, it was Brian Banner’s physical and psychological abuse of his son that played a major role in creating Bruce’s dark side, which would eventually be unleashed as the Hulk. However, Ant-Man gets the props for doing the dirty work and being brave enough to venture into the Hulk’s brain and administer the cure.
14. Major Talbot – Tales to Astonish Vol. 1 #99 (1967)
Major Glenn Talbot is probably one of the last people you’d think would save the Hulk, since he spent most of his career trying to kill him. But in this particular story, Talbot ends up being the savior of his hated enemy (as well as Betty Ross and General Ross) after the General’s missile base is taken over by the villainous Legions of Living Lightning.
After the Hulk is weakened by the bad guys’ lightning blasters and changes back to into Bruce Banner, Talbot knocks out a guard, steals his uniform, and incapacitates the Lightning henchmen before they can take Bruce, Betty, and General Ross hostage. With the tables turned, the two military men set aside their animosity for Bruce and help him reach a gamma ray projector that turns him back into the Hulk in time to stop the Lightning Legions from launching a barrage of nuclear missiles.
13. Doctor Strange – The Defenders Vol. 1 #12 (1974)
Although the Hulk is well-known as being a founding member of the Avengers in both the comics and the 2012 film, the Green Goliath also was a founding member of another Marvel supergroup: the Defenders. In this story, the Hulk is ambushed by his old foe Xemnu the Titan and knocked unconscious, but not before sending out a mystical cry for help to his Defenders teammate, Doctor Strange. Xemnu’s master plan was to hypnotize the residents of a nearby town and lure them into a spaceship so he could fly them off into space and use their bodies as hosts for a new race of Titans like himself.
Arriving in the hilariously named town of Plucketville with the Valkyrie as backup, the Sorcerer Supreme frees both the Hulk and the townspeople from Xemnu’s trance and launches a counterattack on the fuzzy white menace. With his mind now clear, the Hulk seemingly kills Xemnu by throwing his own rocket at him, which erupts into a fiery explosion. Afterward, he thanks Doctor Strange by calling him a “dumb magician” and admits he considers him a friend.
12. Enchantress – The Incredible Hulk Vol. 1 #102 (1968)
It’s not often you’ll find supervillains coming to the rescue of the people constantly trying to stop their nefarious schemes, but that’s exactly what happened at the beginning of this classic Hulk tale. While on an unexpected trip through Asgard thanks to the mischievous Loki, the Hulk tries to jump across a bottomless chasm and suddenly reverts back to Bruce Banner in mid-leap.
Luckily for the helpless doctor, the chasm is also the current residence of the exiled Enchantress and Executioner. Presuming Bruce to be a mere mortal, Enchantress uses her magical powers to prevent him from falling to his death in hopes that he knows the whereabouts of her beloved Hercules. Although Executioner protests this semi-heroic act, Enchantress nonetheless levitates Bruce to safety…and then proceeds to take him hostage so she can interrogate him about her Olympian crush.
Unfortunately for her, Dr. Banner doesn’t seem to be aware Hercules even exists, so Executioner opts to simply dispatch him with his trusty ax. However, his attack triggers a familiar transformation, which concludes with Executioner eating a monstrous green fist.
11. Silver Surfer – The Incredible Hulk Vol. 1 #250 (1980)
The Hulk and the Silver Surfer have a long history together as both enemies and teammates during their time served together in the Defenders. In this particular story, the Surfer seeks out Bruce Banner hoping that he can help him find a way to break the invisible barrier created by Galactus which imprisons him on Earth. The Surfer temporarily cures Bruce of his curse using the Power Cosmic, and in exchange, he bombards the Surfer with gamma rays to increase his strength.
However, a mob of angry locals attacks the lab Bruce and the Surfer are using and a gamma ray explosion ensues, once again turning Bruce into the Hulk. A fight between the two gamma-irradiated titans above Earth’s atmosphere follows, and the Silver Surfer drains the Hulk of his gamma-energy once more, causing Dr. Banner to fall helplessly back to Earth. Although the Surfer is able to smash his way through Galactus’ barrier, he turns back in time to return the gamma radiation to Bruce’s body so he is able to survive his descent back to Earth. Although Bruce is unhappy about sharing his body with the Hulk again, the Silver Surfer’s act of pity saved his life regardless.
10. Ka-Zar – The Incredible Hulk Vol. 1 #109 (1968)
In this story, the Hulk finds himself lost in the Savage Land after a skirmish on a Chinese military base led him to board a rocket which he hoped would take him to a place where he would be left alone. The rocket’s explosive landing renders the Jade Giant unconscious and he reverts back to Bruce Banner, who unfortunately wakes up to find himself at the mercy of a band of barbarians called the Swamp Men.
Being the hospitable fellows they are, the Swamp Men quickly tie Bruce to a tree and plan to offer him up as a human sacrifice to their gods. Luckily, help comes in the form of Ka-Zar (Marvel’s answer to Tarzan), Lord of the Savage Land. Not a fan of human sacrifice himself, Ka-Zar intervenes with the help of his trusty sabretooth tiger Zabu and fights off the Swamp Men before they can take Bruce to the “Altar of Death”. The minimally-clothed hero then also has to get between Zabu and Dr. Banner, since his carnivorous friend’s bloodlust is aroused by the battle. So Ka-Zar actually saves the Hulk’s life twice in a matter of minutes!
9. Iron Man, Spider-Woman, Wolverine, and The Wasp – Secret Wars Vol 1. #12 (1985)
The original Secret Wars pitted the best superheroes and villains Marvel had to offer at the time against each other in a war for the “ultimate prize“, so it’s no surprise the Hulk was among the many heroes who made the journey to Battleworld. As the story’s final battle rages on, the Hulk goes up against a recently re-assembled Ultron as his allies duke it out with the monsters created by a cosmically-powered Klaw. The Emerald Behemoth holds his own against the homicidal robot to begin with, damaging him with a thunderous punch which sends him crashing to the ground. Ultron admits he is shocked that the Hulk was able to floor him so easily, but responds in turn with an energy blast which is so powerful that it breaks the Hulk’s left leg.
Seeing that their green-skinned comrade is severely injured, the team of Iron Man (James Rhodes), Spider-Woman, Wolverine, and the Wasp rush in to make the save. Ultron repels the latter three without much effort, but before he can go in for the kill, the Wasp sabotages his circuitry from within, causing the malevolent machine to explode.
8. Betty Ross – The Incredible Hulk Vol 1. #116 (1969)
Until she eventually became the Red She-Hulk, Betty Ross was mostly the quintessential damsel-in-distress archetype. However, every now and then, the love of Bruce Banner’s life would be the deciding factor in the fate of the Hulk. On this occasion, the Hulk found himself trapped in a bubble of “plasti-thene” designed by his archenemy the Leader, a cage that would become more rubbery the more the Green Goliath pounded it. Having overheard the Leader’s plan to launch Gamma Base’s nuclear warheads and start World War 3, Betty takes it upon herself to free the Hulk so he can stop his mad foe from destroying the world.
Firing the Leader’s plasti-thene cannon at reverse power knocks a hole into the Hulk’s malleable prison and frees him. Although he is distrustful of Betty, Hulk quickly turns his attention back to smashing the Leader and his Super-Humanoid. Had Betty not rescued the Hulk from his confinement in time, the Leader’s genocidal plan may well have been successful.
7. Georges Baptiste – The Incredible Hulk Vol. 1 #181 (1974)
Although this famous issue is best-known as being the debut of a certain cigar-smoking Canadian berzerker, the Hulk was actually saved in this story by a little-known character named Georges Baptiste. After Wolverine and Hulk briefly team up to knock out the cannibalistic monster called the Wendigo, the creature’s sister Marie and her friend Georges subdue both heroes with sleeping chemicals. Marie plans to use a magical ritual to transfer the curse of the Wendigo from her brother Paul to the Hulk, but Georges refuses to participate in the ritual once he changes back into Bruce Banner.
Having no desire to help Marie subject an innocent man to such a vile curse, Georges instead performs the ritual on his own and assumes the curse himself to free Paul out of love for Marie. With the Hulk having defeated Wolverine and Paul’s humanity restored, Georges flees into the woods as the Wendigo consumes the last vestiges of his human consciousness. Wolverine may have been the star of the story, but Georges Baptiste was arguably the true hero, since he spared the Hulk of an even worse fate than he’s already been dealt.
6. Doc Samson – The Incredible Hulk Vol. 1 #225 (1978)
One of the Hulk’s longtime allies and Bruce Banner’s personal psychiatrist, Dr. Leonard Samson has played an active role in trying to cure Bruce of becoming the Hulk for decades. An on-and-off superhero himself thanks to gamma radiation exposure, Samson rushed to save a badly-electrocuted Bruce Banner from impending death in this story as the Leader begins his plans for world domination anew.
Racing to Gamma Base, Samson fires up Bruce’s old gamma ray projector from his early days as the Hulk and blasts him with it in hopes that it will revive him. At first, the gamma inundation seems to have no effect, but as the minutes pass, the radiation kicks in and Bruce transforms into the Hulk. Naturally, he thanks Doc Samson for saving his life by throwing him through a wall. Fortunately, cooler heads prevail, and Samson manages to convince the Hulk that taking down the Leader is more important. The Jade Giant momentarily sets aside his misplaced hatred of Doc to join forces with him and stop their common enemy.
5. The Vision – The Incredible Hulk Vol 1. #323 (1986)
During John Byrne’s legendary run on The Incredible Hulk, Doc Samson managed to physically separate Bruce Banner and the Hulk into two separate beings. Unfortunately for pretty much everyone else, without the calming influence of Bruce’s mind, the Hulk became an animalistic monster commonly referred to as “the Mindless Hulk” and ended up in a series of brutal fights with both the East and West Coast Avengers.
After finally being subdued by the combined superteam’s might, the dying Dr. Banner and unconscious Hulk are reunited in a hospital, where it is discovered that their molecules are spreading apart. Desperate to save Bruce’s life, Rick Jones uses his Avengers connections to procure the aid of the Vision. Using his density powers to unify Bruce and the Hulk’s atoms, Vision’s procedure is successful, but he becomes trapped inside the Hulk’s body and is overcome by his rage.
Thankfully, Betty Ross is able to soothe the green-skinned beast’s anger enough to allow the Vision to free himself from the Hulk’s body and complete the reunification process. With both personas both inhabiting the same body once more, the Hulk passes out and changes back into Bruce Banner, both lives saved thanks to the Vision.
4. Hercules – The Incredible Hulks Vol 1. #622 (2011)
There have only been a handful of occasions in the Hulk’s storied history where he has bitten off more than he can chew. This would definitely be one of them. Following the “Chaos War” story-arch, the Hulk journeys to Mount Olympus to demand that Zeus use his godly powers to heal his allies and provide them with a new home. After a thunderbolt doesn’t get the message across that Zeus doesn’t like to be ordered around by mortals, the Father of the Greek Gods agrees to the Hulk’s challenge to face him in hand-to-hand combat. While the Jade Giant puts up a good fight against Hercules’ father, he’s simply no match for Zeus, and is viciously beaten to a bloody pulp.
As punishment for his insolence, the Hulk ends up sharing the same fate as the mythical Prometheus; chained to a rock to have his innards devoured by vultures. After three days of this agonizing torture, Hercules mercifully shoots the birds of prey dead with his arrows and frees the Hulk so he can be reunited with his extended family.
3. Spider-Man – The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #328 (1990)
The Hulk and Spider-Man have had several epic clashes since their creation in 1962, and this battle was no exception. In this story, Spider-Man has recently acquired the cosmic powers of Captain Universe and thus has become more powerful than ever before. With several major villains anxious to have Spidey eliminated once and for all, Sebastion Shaw hires the grouchy Gray Hulk to kill Spider-Man for him. Now wielding superhuman strength and durability on par with the Hulk, Spider-Man accepts the monster’s challenge and squares off with him on Roosevelt Island.
However, the circumstances become even more severe when two children step in to defend their favorite web-slinger against the Gray Goliath. Fearful that they’ll be injured by Dr. Banner’s more belligerent persona, Spider-Man delivers a punch so devastating that it sends the Hulk shooting up into orbit like a rocket. Fearful that he may have actually killed his ill-tempered opponent, Spidey flies up to rescue Hulk and brings him back down to Earth. In exchange, the Hulk agrees not to kill him…for now, leaving a bewildered Spider-Man to ponder if he even can die now that he possesses such extraordinary powers.
2. Storm – The Incredible Hulk Vol. 1 #444 (1996)
With Cable in dire need of help after being beaten by an Onslaught-influenced Hulk, Storm sets out after the Emerald Behemoth to free her mutant ally. Using her hurricane winds, Storm manages to distract the Hulk enough to bring Cable back into the fight. Although his telepathic powers give him a fighting chance against Onslaught’s mind-control of his enraged foe, Cable risks his body being overrun by the Technorganic virus the more he uses them. As the battle rages on, Cable fires a barrage of gas pellets at the Hulk, and Storm uses her wind manipulation powers to force him to inhale the fumes. The two mutants then use a combined lightning bolt/psi-blast attack to knock the Hulk out.
Fearful that they may have gone too far and killed him (a recurring theme on this list, in case you didn’t notice), Cable mentally frees Bruce Banner from Onslaught’s mind-control, and Storm jump-starts the Hulk’s heart with another lightning bolt. Finally brought back to his senses, the Hulk insists on accompanying Storm and Cable back to New York so he can even the score with Onslaught.
1. Amadeus Cho – The Totally Awesome Hulk Vol. 1 #4 (2015)
Bruce Banner’s current successor, Amadeus Cho, actually became the Hulk as a result of saving Bruce’s life. After trying to stop a nuclear meltdown on the Kenyan coast, the Hulk absorbs a dangerous amount of Kiber fusion radiation, which turns him into a living weapon of mass destruction. Although he saved millions of lives, Iron Man and Black Panther fear the Hulk may explode himself and cause similar devastation.
With only minutes left until the nuclear cataclysm, Amadeus Cho dons a special diving suit equipped with nanobots to absorb the lethal radiation from the Hulk’s body and transfer it into his own. As a result, Cho saves the life of his hero, as well as the millions of people who would have perished had the Hulk exploded and released the deadly energy that had engulfed him.
However, the radiation also transforms Amadeus into a new version of the Hulk that possesses his same genius-level intellect. Despite his noble rescue, Bruce Banner sheds tears for Amadeus as he realizes the burden he’s now taken on by becoming a gamma-spawned monster for Bruce’s sake.
What other heroes have had to come to the Hulk’s rescue over the years? Let us know in the comments.
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