The Hulk is one of Marvel’s most important characters. He is known for his strength, for the depth of his story, but also for his endurance. He is nigh invulnerable and there are a lot of situation where it was implied that he – the Hulk (i.e., not Bruce Banner) – is immortal. Is it really so? Can Hulk die? Has he died? We’ll give the answers in our article so keep reading to find out more!
Despite popular opinion, the Hulk can indeed die. He is not immortal, just highly invulnerable and his death is certainly possible, although very difficult to actually do.
Marvel Comics is a comic book publishing company founded in 1939 under the name Timely Comics. Timely Comics changed its name to Marvel Comics in 1961. Along with its chief rival, DC Comics, Marvel Comics is the biggest and most important mainstream comic book publisher in the United States. Marvel has, along with DC Comics, contributed to the development of American comics, specializing in the superhero genre. Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby are just some of the pivotal writers who’ve helped shape the style and universes of Marvel Comics.
Throughout the years, Marvel has created several pivotal superhero characters and has launched successful franchises such as the Avengers, X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy, all of which have been adapted into movies, TV shows and video games. Some of the most famous Marvel Comics heroes are Spider-Man, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Wolverine, Professor X, Storm, Cyclops, Jean Grey; but, the franchise also includes famous supervillains such as Thanos, Apocalypse, Galactus, Loki, Magneto, the Mandarin, Doctor Octopus, the Green Goblin, Venom and others.
Now that we’ve given you a short introduction, let us discuss the topic of this article in more detail.
Who is Hulk?
The Hulk is a fictional superhero appearing in stories published by Marvel Comics. Hulk is the alter ego of physicist Bruce Banner, who is a regular human, without any superhuman abilities. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the characters debuted in The Incredible Hulk #1 (1962) and is today regarded as one of Marvel’s strongest characters.
Dr. Robert Bruce Banner is a genius physicist, but a physically weak, socially withdrawn, and emotionally reserved human. During the experimental detonation of a gamma bomb, Banner saves teenager Rick Jones who has driven onto the testing field; Banner pushes Jones into a trench to save him, but is hit with the blast, absorbing massive amounts of gamma radiation. He awakens later seemingly unharmed by the incident, but that night transforms into a lumbering grey (yes, he was initially grey before having been recoloured) form. A pursuing soldier named the creature a “hulk”.
Originally, it was believed that Banner’s transformations into the Hulk were caused by sunset and undone at sunrise, but later, it was discovered to be caused by anger. Banner was, interestingly enough, cured in The Incredible Hulk #4, but chose to restore Hulk’s powers with Banner’s intelligence. He later became one of the founding members of the Avengers.
The Hulk is a green-skinned, hulking and muscular humanoid possessing a vast degree of physical strength. The two exist as separate dissociative personalities in the same body, and (generally) resent each other. The Hulk’s level of strength is normally conveyed as proportionate to his level of anger. Commonly portrayed as a raging savage, the Hulk has been represented with other personalities based on Banner’s fractured psyche, from a mindless, destructive force, to a brilliant warrior, or genius scientist in his own right.
The Hulk is one of Marvel’s most popular characters and has appeared in a lot of derivative materials, including animated films and TV shows, video games and live-action movies. In the live-action movies, he was portrayed by Eric Bana, Edward Norton and Mark Ruffallo, with the latter two portraying the characters within the MCU.
Can Hulk die? How?
One question that everyone raises when the Hulk is concerned is – can the Green Giant die? And while his invulnerability and his resilience often trick people into thinking that he is, in fact, immortal, that is not true. As we are soon going to see, the Hulk is definitely mortal and he can both die and be killed, although both ways are very unlikely to happen.
In this section, we are going to talk about how the Hulk die, as presented in the canon material from the comics:
- Ageing – although we are going to analyse this one separately, there is a way though which the Hulk can die of ageing. Namely, the Hulk himself doesn’t really age – or, he ages at such a slow rate that he is practically immortal – but Bruce Banner ages normally, so if he were to die of old age, the Hulk would likewise die, or would have to remain in the Hulk form, because he would die in case of a transformation.
- Nuclear explosions – although this is a very tricky aspect (he was basically created by one), some iterations of the character did indeed die after being exposed to a nuclear explosion, such as Maestro, the strongest iteration of the Hulk. On the other hand, some iterations of the characters have survived a nuclear holocaust, so the canon is not completely consistent here.
- Being killed in battle – this is another proven possibility, but it is very difficult to achieve because of Hulk’s strength and his healing factor. He has been killed by Abomination and by Old Man Logan, for example, but he would always find a way of coming back. He has also been killed in several “What If?” stories by various characters such as Deadpool, King Thanos, and others.
- Magic – as it was demonstrated in several comic books, Hulk is vulnerable to some forms of magic. For example, Zeus magically removed his killing factor, thus making him completely mortal.
- Removing the gamma radiation – by removing the force that actually created the Hulk, one could theoretically kill the Hulk because the Green Goliath would cease to exist at that point. This is what Red Hulk did on one occasion.
- Killing Bruce Banner – most iterations of the Hulk are completely dependent on the existence of Bruce Banner, meaning that killing the latter would certainly lead to the death of the Hulk. The only known version of the character that is not so closely tied to Banner is Space Punisher Hulk, who became an autonomous being.
This covers all the known means by which the Hulk can die or be killed. As you can see, their number is not that low, not really, so there are ways by which the Green Goliath can be killed, but it is still very difficult and you can probably expect him to come back at one point.
Has Hulk ever died?
Now that we know that the Hulk can be killed/can die and the means by which one should do it, let us see whether the Hulk actually died, or are all of these just theoretical possibilities. Hulk did, in fact, die on several occasions throughout the history of the comics, and here are just some of such situations as they were depicted in the comics:
- In Tales to Astonish #90-91 (1967), the supervillain Abomination is created and he manages to kill Hulk in a one-on-one fight. The scientists remember that they could blast Hulk with another round of gamma radiation to revive him, which proved to be very successful. The Hulk came back to life and eventually defeated Abomination.
- In the original Old Man Logan narrative series, the Hulk fights Logan (Wolverine) and manages to consume him whole. But, Logan recuperates inside Hulk’s stomach and he slices through the Green Goliath’s internal organs, effectively killing him in the process.
- Maestro, a futuristic version of the Hulk considered by many to the strongest iteration of the character was ultimately killed in a nuclear explosion similar to the one that created the Hulk in the first place. This was depicted in The Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect #2 (1992).
- Thor kills Hulk and a lot of the other characters in Thor #73, but ultimately went back into time to undo all of it.
And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we helped solve this dilemma for you. See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!