The Hulk at 50: We love him when he’s angry

May 29, 2012 | 12:08 p.m.
kirbys hulk The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

The Incredible Hulk debuted 50 years ago this month in Marvel Comics and he's still all the rage. Above, the Hulk as he looked when co-creator Jack Kirby drew him back in 1962. Flip through our gallery to see art and photos from five decades of smashing success. (Marvel Comics)

the hulk no 1 The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

Is he man or monster...or is he both? That was the question asked by the cover of "The Incredible Hulk" No. 1, which hit stands in May 1962. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were the creative team. (Marvel Comics)

grey hulk The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

The Hulk was gray at first (writer Stan Lee thought it made him "mysterious and scary") but a more vibrant green hue arrived in the second issue and seemed far more attuned to the medium. (Marvel Comics)

hulk and frankensteins monster The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

Hulk owed life to Universal's "Frankenstein" films, according to Stan Lee: "The monster, played by Boris Karloff, wasn't really a bad guy...he didn't want to hurt anybody. It's just those idiots with torches kept running up and down the mountains, chasing him and getting him angry. And I thought, 'Wouldn't it be fun to create a monster and make him the good guy?'" Above, Jack Kirby's early Hulk.(Marvel Comics)

avengers loki hulk The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

Think the Avengers are cool? Well, thank the Hulk. In "Avengers" No. 1 (September 1963) the menace of the Hulk (and Loki's efforts to frame the monster) lead to the formation of the team. (Marvel Comics)

hulk vs thing fastner larsen The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

The Hulk met the Thing in "Fantastic Four" No. 12 (March 1963) and a tradition was born: Marvel's two cosmic-division heavyweights have fought dozens of times. Above, a memorable1980 poster illustration by Steve Fastner and Rich Larson (Marvel Comics/SG Productions Inc)

thor vs hulk The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

The Hammer and the Hulk: The mighty Thor has fought the green goliath again and again (above, a 1965 confrontation) which provided Joss Whedon with some ripe comedy opportunities in "The Avengers." (Marvel Comics)

hulk comic 481 2003 The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

Stan Lee has said the transformation of Bruce Banner into the Hulk (depicted here on a 1998 cover) was inspired by the Hollywood versions of "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde." (Marvel Comics)

hulk 181 The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

"The Incredible Hulk" issue No. 181 (1974) became a milestone as the first story featuring Wolverine, who later became a sensation with X-Men fans. (Marvel Comics)

the hulk monster truck The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

The Hulk's brute strength and bright hue make him an instant shorthand for people who want to publicly flex their muscles...like the owner of this customized monster truck. (Associated Press)

bill bixby lou ferrigno The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

The live-action primetime show "The Incredible Hulk" premiered in November 1977 and starred Bill Bixby (left) as Dr. David Banner and Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk. The CBS hit show lasted 82 episodes. (Los Angeles Times archives)

us cover hulk The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

For "The Avengers," Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige decided the way to cast a successful on-screen Bruce Banner was to find "someone who could play Bill Bixby." (Us Magazine)

bill bixby The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

Bill Bixby resisted his agent's urging to read the "The Incredible Hulk" pilot script but the actor was hooked by the third page. "Right away I knew this could be done in the style of the monster pictures or the creature films of the 1940s. But one advantage we enjoy over the previous monster pictures is that the Hulk is not evil." (NBC)

banner hulk original The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

Lou Ferrigno, the son of an NYPD cop, had been named Mr. America and Mr. Universe before he got green for TV. He said audiences identify with the rage of his role: "Everyone has his own 'little Hulk' inside him." (USHV)

hulk and she hulk The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

CBS had a hit with "The Incredible Hulk" and there was even chatter about a possible spin-off female character (in the fashion of "The Bionic Woman") so Marvel quickly introduced the series "Savage She-Hulk" in February 1980. (Marvel Comics)

thor stan lee and hulk The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

"The Incredible Hulk" series on CBS ended after 82 episodes but it continued to echo with made-for TV sequels -- including the May 1988 one that provided this photo op for Eric Kramer (in the role of Thor), left, with Stan Lee and Lou Ferrigno (Nick Ut/AP Photo)

she hulk 1 The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

The mob gunned down attorney Jennifer Walters and a blood transfusion from her cousin, Bruce Banner, saved her life but also had certain...side effects. Stan Lee wrote issue No. 1 and She-Hulk was the last major character he created for Marvel. (Marvel)

rampaging hulk The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

The success of the live-action CBS series also prompted Marvel to seek out older readers with the magazine "The Rampaging Hulk," which had painted covers and mature themes -- including an infamous YMCA shower where two men threaten Bruce Banner with rape. (Curtis Magazines/Marvel Comics)

defenders The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

Maybe the Hulk isn't a team player by nature but he was a founder and (along with Doctor Strange) the most consistent presence during the 14-year run of the series. (Marvel Comics)

hulk comic strips The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

The Hulk appeared in a syndicated comic strip that began the day before Halloween 1978 and ran through September 1982. The strip was tilted toward the prime-time CBS take on the Hulk rather than the comic book version. (King Features/Marvel)

hulk The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

In his first appearance back in 1962, Hulk is fairly articulate (His first line of dialogue:"Get out of my way, insect!") but through the years he picked up a caveman's diction -- or sticks to silence and growls as he did on the CBS live -action series. (Marvel Comics)

hulk villians The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

The Hulk is rather big, but he's not the only XXXL in the Marvel Universe. There are also big-body villains like (clockwise, from top right) Juggernaut, the Abomination, the Blob, the Absorbing Man and Rhino. (Marvel)

hulk 324 The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

The Hulk's gray roots were showing in 1986 when writer Al Milgrom and artist Dennis Janke shook things up and un-greened the icon. This single issue opened up whole new story frontiers over the next decade because the color changes were linked to major personality shifts. (Marvel Comics)

hulk peter david The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

The definitive Hulk? Many comic book fans point to the 12-year run by writer Peter David that began in 1987 and included the introduction of the Pantheon and dark revelations about Bruce Banner's childhood. (Marvel Comics)

joe fixit hulk The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

Peter David took the gray Hulk idea into an unexpected direction with Joe Fixit, a new-look brute who retained some of Banner's intellect, most of green Hulk's haymaker and, apparently, the wardrobe from "The Sting." Above, the fan-favorite even reached the toy shelf. (Marvel)

hulk xxx The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

The character has appeared in plenty of unexpected places, including...a porn film? That's right, "The Incredible Hulk XXX: A Porn Parody" was filmed in Canoga Park in 2011. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)

hulk roller coaster ride The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

The Incredible Hulk ride at Universal's Islands of Adventure in Florida was named the world's best roller coaster by the Discovery Channel shortly after its 1999 opening. From zero to 40 mph in two seconds? "Hulk hurl!" (Universal's Islands of Adventure)

the hulk stamp The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

If you want a stamp with major stomp, this 41-cent stamp introduced in 2007 would be a first-class choice. (United States Postal Service)

hulk at universal former restaurant The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

How big is the Hulk? That's up to whoever is telling the story. He's been drawn the size of a football player but, in the Ang Lee film in 2004, he got as big as a football field. (Universal Studios)

hulk vs thor The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

The Hulk first hit the airwaves in 1966 in the animated showcase series "The Marvel Super Heroes." He's appeared again and again in cartoons and his physique and intellect are in flux from project to project. Above, a scene from "Hulk vs Thor" in 2009. (Lionsgate/Marvel)

hulk statue The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

Among all the Marvel characters, Hulk is second only to Spider-Man when it comes to global recognition and overall popularity. Above, preparations for a 2011 festival in Ecuador. (Associated Press)

the hulk vs batman The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

The Hulk vs. Batman? Yes, it happened back in 1981 as DC and Marvel joined forces to present a Battle of the Bruces in a tabloid-sized edition. (Marvel/DC)

ang lee hulk The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly and Nick Nolte starred in Ang Lee's "Hulk," the 2003 feature film that took the character through a dark psychological tale. The movie opened at No. 1 but ticket sales plummeted almost 70% in the second week. (Universal)

eric bana in hulk The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

Eric Bana on Bruce Banner: "I love the idea that Bruce has no control over what's happening to him and that he's on this journey of personal discovery and there's always something going on in his head." (Universal)

jennifer connelly The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

In Ang Lee's "Hulk," Jennifer Connelly played Betty Ross, the woman who loves Bruce Banner. The character dates back to the Hulk's first appearance in 1962. (Universal Pictures)

bruce banner marries betty ross The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

Bridal white doesn't go with green skin and purple pants but when Bruce Banner was split apart from the Hulk persona he and Betty Ross made a mad dash to the wedding chapel in the key 1986 issue. (Marvel Comics)

red hulk punch The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

Gen. Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross (the father of Betty Ross) labeled the Hulk as a menace from day one but, deep down, he coveted the monster's power. He got to taste that strength when he became the Red Hulk in 2008. (Marvel Comics)

doc smason rhino The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

Another member of Marvel's green movement: Doc Samson, a psychiatrist who was working with Bruce Banner when he got his own dose of gamma. Samson's strength is far less than the Hulk's and, uh, he's got some crazy green hair. (Marvel Comics)

hulk xbox game The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

The Hulk's strength and jumping ability have made him a natural for video games, such as this tie-in to the 2003 feature film. (Radical Entertainment)

hulk 2008 The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

Hulk was back on the big screen in 2008 with Louis Leterrier's "The Incredible Hulk" in 2008. The film hewed closer to the comics mythology but (again) fans weren't electrified. (Marvel Studios)

ed norton as hulk The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

Edward Norton portrayed Bruce Banner in the 2008 feature film and exerted considerable influence over the production. In 2010, though, Norton was sent packing by Marvel execs who said he wasn't the collaborative spirit needed. (Marvel Studios)

john belushi hulk The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

One of the funnier moments in Hulk history came in 1979 when John Belushi (left) played the Marvel monster at a superhero party with Superman (Bill Murray), the Flash (Dan Aykroyd) and others. (NBC)

maestro The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

What does the future hold for the Hulk? We got a glimpse in 1993 with the introduction of Maestro, the Hulk persona from (one possible version of) the future where he possesses Bruce Banner's intellect. (Marvel)

planet hulk The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

In 2006, Marvel superheroes (and writer Greg Pak) decide the Hulk is too dangerous to stay on Earth so they send him into interstellar exile. So begins "Planet Hulk," a memorable alien epic in the comics that would also be adapted as the animated direct-to-video movie above. (Marvel)

wolrd war hulk pinball The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

"Planet Hulk" was followed up by the "World War Hulk" arc in 2007 and it proved so popular that a new virtual pinball game (for Xbox 360 and PS3) is being released this year with an elaborate representation of the alien gladiator tale. (Zen Studios)

homer hulk The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

The Hulk has been parodied far and wide (who could resist?) but he's popped up in one way or another on at least four episodes of "The Simpsons." Our favorite is when he was arrested for fighting The Thing on St Patrick's Day. (Fox)

hulk and the agenst of smash The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

Looking ahead: A new Disney XD cartoon series called "Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H." will premiere in 2013 and will feature voice actors including Eliza Dushku as She-Hulk Adrian Pasdar as Tony Stark. (Marvel)

mark ruffalo as bruce banner The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

Mark Ruffalo on the Bruce Banner role: "There was a lot of negative response to me playing that part early on, and I kind of liked that challenge. This one really scared me. It was something that I had never done, that I don’t think anyone expected me to do.” (Marvel Studios)

avengers hulk The Hulk at 50: We love him when hes angry

Joss Whedon on Hulk in "The Avengers": "How do you toe the line with being a villain, monster and hero? And make it all play in the same movie. It’s a thing that has plagued the Hulk movies." (Marvel Studios)

“The Avengers” is a monster smash and one key reason is the smashing monster in the middle of all the action.

It’s been an incredible month for the Marvel Studios film that is now No. 4 on the list of highest-grossing films of all time (the worldwide total is now north of $1.3 billion) and will soon pass “The Dark Knight” as the biggest comic book adaptation film in U.S. history.

The big green success of “The Avengers” comes at a golden moment: This month marks the 50th anniversary of the character’s first appearance in the pages of Marvel Comics. To learn more about the Hulk’s history, flip through the photo gallery above but be sure to click the “CAPTIONS ON” option.

The Hulk in this film (as realized by actor Mark Ruffalo, writer-director Joss Whedon and the film’s visual effects team) is the one that fans always wanted but eventually stopped expecting after two solo films that seemed to alternate between mopey and mundane. This Hulk is fearsome and funny, a lime-colored natural disaster who makes gods nervous.

Will the success of Whedon’s take get the Hulk another solo film, maybe by 2015? Don’t dismiss that idea too quickly — remember that Disney and Marvel make decisions based on marketplace upside and for decades the Hulk has been second only to Spider-Man when it comes to worldwide consumer recognition of Marvel characters.  And why not? He’s got mad skills.

– Geoff Boucher

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Comments


12 Responses to The Hulk at 50: We love him when he’s angry

  1. Brian says:

    But who created the Hulk? Is that known? Are they still alive? Was it the same guy who created Superman? I feel like that's important information.

    • WesleyD says:

      The Hulk was created in 1962 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. (Superman was much earlier, created in the late 1930s by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.)

    • mo green says:

      Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, they both created the Hulk and other marvel characters. Superman is DC comics. Not a big fan of DC so I don't know who created superman.

    • mike a says:

      Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
      stan lee is still alive, and has had a cameo in the avengers film, all 3 spiderman movies, captain america, thor, fantastic four, both previous hulk movies, all x-men movies, as well as a couple episodes of the old lou ferigno/bill bixby hulk tv show.
      jack kirby died in 1994

    • Dingus Crumbutt says:

      Gamma Radiation created The Hulk, duh. Superman's an Alien.

    • Bill says:

      The guy that created the Hulk is the same one that created Spider-Man as well as the entire Avengers team seen in the movie. Stan Lee. And also created Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, The Fantastic Four, X-Men, Daredevil. Basically half the characters at Marvel. Jack Kirby, Lee's artist is the other half of the creative team responsible for these characters. Also Kirby helped create Captain America back in the 40s as a response to WWII.

      Superman was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in 1939 and basically created the superhero genre.

  2. TheUniverse says:

    I watched the The Avengers and it was FREAKING AWESOME! I like them all but the Hulk/Bruce Banner STANDOUT among the rest. Mark Ruffalo did an AMAZING job and he gave JUSTICE to Hulk/Bruce Banner compared to the other 2 Hulk movies. Marvel and Disney made an EXCELLENT decision for giving the role to Mark Ruffalo. We NEED a new Hulk movie of Mark Ruffalo! WE NEED MORE!

    Sincerely,
    TheUniverse

  3. Charles Nelson says:

    Interesting article in Psychology Today that talks about the exact same thing from the point of view of a bipolar person – http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/bipolar-advan

  4. isaiah says:

    plzz stop putting freaky pics of hulk

  5. Joe says:

    The Hulk emerging from rageing seas after decades pass and the Hero's are at a loss against the odds.

  6. logan says:

    actually wolverine's first appearance was hulk 180 and 181 he was on the very last page of 180

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