Hulk is considered one of the strongest non-cosmic characters in the Marvel Comics universe. However, some characters can match that strength, either with their physical strength or superpowers. So, who would win if the two ever fought?
Ghost Rider would beat Hulk more often than not. Hulk has proven that he’s immortal countless times, but so is Ghost Rider. The Rider might not be able to kill him, but reverting him to Banner form is as good of a defeat as one can hope against the Hulk.
On the other hand, Hulk might toss Ghost Rider around, barring that the Spirit of Vengeance gets close enough. His strength is literally unlimited, and even hellfire doesn’t hurt him. Still, all that strength would mean nothing when Ghost Rider is invulnerable to physical damage. Luckily, there’s a lot of research and mutual comic book battles we can explore for answers.
Hulk’s main attribute is unfathomable physical strength. He’s one of the physically strongest beings in the Marvel universe and the strongest living mortal in the universe (non-cosmic being). The angrier Hulk gets, the stronger he becomes, and both his rage and strength grow exponentially to unlimited levels.
Several other characters and cosmic entities confirmed that Hulk’s strength is indeed limitless. The omnipotent cosmic entity, The Beyonder, confirmed it in Secret Wars II #8.
Mad Thinker tried to calculate Hulk’s strength but deemed his upper limits incalculable. The Silver Surfer, a being who traveled across every corner of the universe, claimed Hulk is by far the strongest living mortal he had ever encountered. If that isn’t enough for you, then this should be – Hulk’s creator, Jack Kirby, confirmed that Hulk’s strength is indeed unlimited.
When in human form, Bruce Banner is just a regular guy, with strength levels similar to any other male human of his age, built, and postulation who doesn’t exercise regularly. Luckily for him, the Hulk always emerges when Banner needs him. Or, at least, keeps Bruce alive.
On the other hand, Ghost Rider’s strength is also incredibly potent and goes to extreme superhuman levels. When the Spirit of Vengeance, or a similar entity such as the demon Zarathos, is merged with a human host, it gives them unfathomable power and strength coming from hellfire and the powers of Hell generally.
When the human is in control, it limits the Spirit’s powers, including his strength. However, when the Spirit of Vengeance (or the demon) takes control, and their full potential is released, Ghost Rider can go against anybody strength-wise – perhaps not physically alone, but enhanced with his powers and the hellfire.
In those instances, Ghost Rider was shown to go against the Hulk and match him – even stronger versions, such as World War Hulk, but we’ll get to that later. Still, regardless of the incredible superhuman strength that Ghost Rider has, nothing suggests that his strength is unlimited like Hulk’s. That’s why the Big Green gets a point in the strength column.
Point: Hulk (1:0) Ghost Rider
It’s hard to determine if Hulk or Ghost Rider is more durable. Both are nearly immortal, having very few weaknesses, and they can be killed only in very specific, special circumstances.
The Hulk is practically immortal. The guy survived nukes, missiles shot at him, magical attacks, and so much more. Take the comics version or the MCU Hulk, and the answer is the same – the Big Green can’t die.
Even Banner said that he tried everything. Overdosing with pills? Hulk digests them like candy. Slitting his wrists? Hulk heals them in a split second. Shooting himself in the mouth? Hulk just spits the bullet out. No physical damage can harm him.
However, there are storylines where Hulk’s skin got pierced with Wolverine’s adamantium blades or Black Panther’s vibranium claws. But, if the Hulk gets angrier and filled with more rage, he overcomes that “weakness” in a heartbeat.
The same goes for Ghost Rider. You cannot harm him physically in any way, no matter how strong or powerful your attack is. Not even magic can touch him, as he’s a supernatural entity himself.
The only thing that can harm or kill a Spirit of Vengeance is a weapon made in Heaven, and that stuff isn’t easy to find. Even if you can somehow find it, it’s still incredibly hard to kill a Ghost Rider, as he’s a conduit for both Heaven and Hell.
Long story short, both characters are spectacularly durable. The Hulk and the Spirit of Vengeance protect them from harm even when they are in their human forms. Both deserve points for durability and near-immortality.
Point(s): Hulk (2:1) Ghost Rider
As I mentioned in the previous subheading, Ghost Rider has only one true weakness: heavenly weapons. No other weapons or forms of attack can harm the Spirit of Vengeance. Even if you somehow manage to kill the human host, the Spirit remains unharmed – and can easily resurrect the host if he finds it worthy or necessary.
There are some things one might consider weaknesses, though. First, the human host himself – when the host has control, Ghost Rider’s powers are limited, so he couldn’t do unnecessary damage and purge the entire Earth. Ghost Rider can easily “override” that weakness by simply giving the Spirit of Vengeance full control.
Another thing one might consider a weakness is the lack of planning, strategy, or intellect. Ghost Rider rarely plans what to do and how to do it, nor does he prepare for the battle that much – he just operates instinctively, which could prove fatal if he’s going against highly intelligent opponents that tend to plan and strategize – like Bruce Banner, for instance.
On the other hand, the Hulk has many weaknesses in theory, but in the end, he can overcome them all if he gets angry (and, subsequently, strong) enough. Still, they are weaknesses.
For instance, the before-mentioned adamantium and vibranium metals can pierce Hulk’s skin and damage him physically, but only to a certain degree. They can’t kill him, per se, but he can be harmed if not mad enough.
Cosmic radiation was also shown to be effective against the Hulk. It’s also known as anti-gamma radiation, meaning the opposite of what gives the Hulk his powers. It can weaken Hulk, turn him back into Banner, and even kill him. However, he had shown to overcome that weakness – even get empowered with it, like in Immortal Hulk #45.
If you can somehow inject neutralizers or toxins inside him, the Hulk might revert to Banner form. Also, in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3, we saw that the Hulk isn’t fully powered-up moments after turning from Banner to Hulk. He can still be knocked out for a minute in those first few seconds, enough to revert to Banner.
Finally, Cosmic entities like Galactus or the Beyonder might have the power to wipe the Hulk out of existence, but then again, you could call that weakness for any mortal, non-cosmic character then. The fact is, all the weaknesses the Big Green has, he can overcome by simply getting angrier.
Still, there are ways to turn him back to Banner, neutralizing all his powers (except super-genius intellect), while Ghost Rider has that one weakness with Heavenly weapons. I think it’s fair to give both of them points in this category.
Point(s): Hulk (3:2) Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider beats his opponents almost exclusively due to his incredible supernatural powers. Apart from superhuman strength, speed, durability, and near-immortality, Ghost Rider also controls hellfire and conjures it at will as a weapon in many ways.
The Rider has an enchanted chain and shotgun, along with his motorcycle, traveling across any surface quickly. The hellfire also comes out of Ghost Rider’s body itself which he can use as a weapon, such as powerful blasts or fireballs.
But, one of the most valuable superpowers Ghost Rider has is the Penance Stare. After locking eyes with his victim, Ghost Rider can make them feel all the pain they ever caused to others and the guilt for all their sins simultaneously, causing enormous physical, mental, and emotional pain and distress.
As for the Hulk, his main power is the unlimited strength caused by gamma radiation. He doesn’t need many other superpowers and most of the ones he has stemmed from that superstrength. For instance, the Hulk can leap incredibly high and move super fast. He also has incredible reflexes and fantastic intuition in battle.
He’s also a highly skilled combatant, but in the end, it all comes down to physical dominance. One might consider Banner’s super-genius intellect to be somewhat of a superpower, but it’s not really superhuman – he’s just insanely intelligent for a human being.
All in all, Ghost Rider’s superpowers are far superior and more versatile, so he gets this category hands down.
Point: Ghost Rider (3:3) Hulk
In comics, Hulk and Ghost rider faced off numerous times. While neither could ever kill the other (nor did they really try to do it), Ghost Rider came out on top almost every time.
In Original Ghost Rider Vol.1 #18, Ghost Rider burned all the oxygen around the Hulk, causing him to lose consciousness and turn back into Banner.
In Ghost Rider Vol.6 #12, he even went hand-to-hand against an empowered version of the Big Green, the World War Hulk. At first, Hulk was beating Ghost Rider, but after the demon, Zarathos took control and unleashed his true power; not even World War Hulk could match him.
Ghost Rider eventually just left, not wanting to hurt Hulk because, believe it or not, despite all the rage and destruction, Hulk’s (Banner’s) soul is still pure.
Sure, Hulk fought even stronger enemies in the past (Immortal Hulk Vol.1 #50), but Ghost Rider won more often than not in terms of mutual matchups.
Point: Ghost Rider (4:3) Hulk
Ghost Rider Vs. Hulk: Who Wins?
It would all come down to narrative, but Ghost Rider should (and would) win against Hulk more often than not.
The Hulk simply can’t hurt the Ghost Rider despite the unlimited strength. And, although the Hulk is immortal (even if he’s in Banner form), the spirit of Vengeance doesn’t need to kill the Hulk to beat him. He just needs to find a way to return Hulk into Banner.
In the end, it seems that Ghost Rider has no intention of reaping Bruce Banner, as he sees his soul as pure (Original Ghost Rider Vol.1 #18), so he’d probably aim to calm the Hulk down instead of hurting him.
Any way you turn it, Ghost Rider wins. In fact, the best chance the Hulk would have at beating Ghost Rider is to let Banner think of a way to outsmart the Spirit and beat him with intelligence.