YMMV: Incredible Hulk


  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Re-reading the original Lee-Kirby issues of Hulk from a certain point of view, it can be easy to interpret Banner as being gay, and the Hulk as straight. Banner's heterosexuality has been firmly established the decades since, but still. This illuminates the way General Ross keeps calling him a milksop, why Banner seems indifferent to Betty but the Hulk is obsessed with her, and why Banner really hates being transformed into a caricature of he-man heterosexuality.
  • Base Breaker: Considering all the different incarnations of the Hulk, who in Real Life terms would be very different separate types of people, those who first came into contact with a particular aspect of one incarnation recurrently strongly dislike very contradictory versions.
  • Broken Base: The fandom generally falls into two camps. The first group likes the Earth's Mightiest Mortal aspect of the character, and like stories which concentrate on the Hulk fighting enemies that only he can defeat, and using his physiology to perform near-impossible feats (for instance, the Hulk can get anywhere on Earth by jumping there). The second group likes the character of Bruce Banner and how the Hulk represents his shattered psyche. The broken base is best exemplified by the two Hulk films that were made in the 2000s. The Ang Lee one was made by and for people in the second group; The Incredible Hulk, on the other hand, was made for people in the first.
  • Cant Unhear It: Chances are you're reading Hulk stuff (including the Self Demonstrating page) in Fred Tatasciore's Hulk voice.
  • Complete Monster:
    • The Maestro is a future version of the Hulk. Ninety years in the future after the world is devastated by nuclear war, the Hulk has changed his name to the Maestro and builds a city state called Dystopia out of the wreckage of New York City. In Dystopia, the Maestro rules as a dictator, taking whatever he wants from his subjects, hoarding almost all of the food and resources for himself. When the Maestro sees a woman he fancies, he forces her to become his slave. The outside of his palace is littered with the corpses of those who have defied or displeased him. He has his Secret Police patrol the streets, killing anyone who would oppose him. After the Maestro's forces have captured one of Rick Jones' rebels, the Maestro subjects the rebel to a machine which forcibly scans a person's mind. After the machine puts the rebel in a vegetative state, the Maestro kills him with his own hands, because the rebel had insulted him earlier. When Rick Jones uses Dr. Doom's time machine to bring the Hulk to the future to defeat the Maestro, the Maestro takes one of his slave girl's hostage to force Hulk to surrender to him. The Maestro then proceeds to break the Hulk's neck, leaving him paralyzed. Later, the Maestro forces his slave girls to perform sexual acts on the paralyzed Hulk, without the Hulk's consent, apparently for his own sick amusement. The Maestro is devoid of anything that made the Hulk sympathetic, he murders an elderly Rick Jones, the man who was once his best friend, for opposing him. The Maestro also tells the Hulk he prefers his harem of slaves to his former wife Betty Ross, because his slaves don't talk back to him or have opinions of their own. The Hulk find the Maestro horrifying and considers him one of the most detestable foes he has had to contend with. He remains just as bad when he reappears in Spider-Man 2099, deciding on a whim to have an entire village wiped out, and subsequently using the corpses to decorate a giant sign that spells out "MAESTRO".
    • Planet Hulk gives us Angmo-Asan, the Red King
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Rick Jones, after Peter David made him into a Crazy Awesome Nice Guy who worked perfectly as Hulk's best friend.
    • The Devil Hulk. He only appears once in a blue moon, but whenever he does, it's horrifyingly memorable. He's frequently mentioned as one of the Hulk's most terrifying enemies.
    • The Gray Hulk/Joe Fixit.
    • Jim Wilson. Although he's been dead and rarely mentioned for decades, his death storyline and his friendship with the Hulk is well-remembered to this day.
  • Magnificent Bastard: The Joe Fixit Hulk loves to fight. Oh, and he loves to fight dirty. And there's the Leader during the Ground Zero arc. Bruce Banner does his best to qualify ... and from the perception of everyone good and bad, he's succeeding ... magnificently.
  • Memetic Badass: In the Fall of 2013, a website, Famous Monsters of Filmland, held a tournament between various comic characters from DC and Marvel where fans would vote to determine the outcome. In the final match, Hulk defeated Batman.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • HULK SMASH PUNY LANGUAGE!
    • Hulk Speak good for Dumb Muscle, show lack of smarts while still making point.
    • "Hulking Out" describes someone driven to rise up and wail on everyone, especially if one wouldn't expect them to have it in them.
    • "Puny X!", borrowing Hulk's oft-phrased reference to humans as "Puny humans!". This meme was elderly until The Avengers rejuvenated it with the Hulk's only line of dialogue.
    Hulk (flinging Loki's unconscious, battered body to the floor): Puny god.
    • A good one was during Civil War, where fans would state "I'm with Tony" or "I'm with Steve". A third camp popped up, stating "You're all fucked when the Hulk gets back!", a reference to Hulk's imminent return from the then-ongoing Planet Hulk storyline.
  • Moral Event Horizon: The Abomination almost murdering Betty Ross by giving her cancer.
  • My Real Daddy: Peter David. Wrote the book for over 12 years and pretty much shaped the mythos, cast, and central traits of the Hulk. Like Chris Claremont for the X-Men, nearly every run of the Hulk builds off what PAD started.
  • Rooting for the Empire: Zeus gained quite a lot of Memetic Badass Internet credibility due to beating the Hulk. These people apparently forget that Hulk generally does far more good than bad, whereas Zeus is a torturer, a rapist, and pompous tyrant willing to commit genocide for petty reasons.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • On those occasions when the Hulk gets seriously angry and destructive and unable to differentiate between friend and foe, it can get a little unsettling. And on the flip side, stories where someone is actually able to beat the crap out of the Hulk himself is a frightening visual when you consider his power level.
    • Issue #377. Doc Samson hypnotizes Bruce to try and reconcile the Hulk and Joe Fixit, as their war for control is turning Bruce into a wreck. While inside Bruce's head they find that he is haunted by a horrifying monster (the "Guilt Hulk") that effortlessly defeats both the Hulk and Joe. We see the monster beating young Bruce on Christmas morning and murdering Bruce's mother, and its made clear that the monster is Brian Banner.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: In the early 1990s, Peter David had a subplot about AIDS that culminated in the Hulk's friend Jim Wilson dying from it. The issue's letter column was devoted to industry professionals talking about their experiences with AIDS.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Regarding Jim Wilson's death from AIDS, one letter regarding the issue felt that the subplot ultimately amounted to this, as right after Jim was revealed to have the disease he was injured and hospitalized thanks to the supervillain Speedfreak, and then wasn't even mentioned in over thirty issues (outside a cameo at Rick Jones' wedding) before finally showing up again where his death occurred. As they stated, "It's not enough to ask us to feel for Jim Wilson because he had AIDS, especially when we could (and should) have felt for him because he was a three-dimensional character we had grown to love."
  • The Woobie:
    • In some ways Bruce Banner is very unfortunate, given all of the abuse, isolation, and mental illness he has suffered from. On the other hand he is a supergenius and almost unkillable immortal, who has had affairs with plenty of beautiful women, so he doesn't really rate particularly high by real-world standards. This actually has precedent since the Hulk becomes mindless when separated from Banner. Also, the Hulk never actively attacks innocents and if he did, he wouldn't be as sympathetic.
    • Writer Dan Slott explained the Marvel Civil War with this subject. If Hulk went around killing people then Tony Stark was absolutely right in everything he did. If Hulk didn't kill anybody, Captain America was right. A lot of people should be dying during these big super powered battles (not just from Hulk's rampages) but they don't to keep the content in a (somewhat) family friendly level.
    • Returning to original the Hulk, the thing is that the rampage part is mostly a popular myth. He's defended himself from attackers plenty of times (after first warnings that they should leave him alone), but just started to attack unrelated populated buildings? No. The few times that has happened, he was either mind-controlled by Nightmare (he never had the chance to kill anybody though), Banner was physically removed from the Hulk (1980s), or in the 2000s case a gamma-bomb blew up in his face and caused him to hallucinate (for those who actually read the Fantastic Four issue, he didn't even hurt anybody though, but that was mostly dumb luck). The memetic false perception has greatly overshadowed fact in this case. Which is actually kind of the point; the Hulk doesn't just go around smashing cities. People in-universe thinks he does. He once publicly announced that he just wanted to be left alone, and for every time the military or superheroes attacked him, he tended to smash lots of military equipment, or nearby buildings were caught in the crossfire, which doesn't exactly help his case. People in-universe don't care if he was Brainwashed and Crazy, under More Than Mind Control, physically separated from Banner, or what. All they care about is that cities have a nasty habit of turning into rubble whenever he's around. The fact that he looks like a monster rather than a hero, is unpredictable, generally an example of Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and other things that are bad for PR are what leads to him getting more flack for property damage than the other heroes.
    • The Planet Hulk storyline proves that neither the Hulk nor Banner are allowed to have a happy life. He's exiled all the way to another planet, where he manages to overthrow the corrupt government and become a hero and the new king, finally finding a place where he can belong. He even manages to find a wife, and has a child on the way. Then the shuttle that brought him to the planet explodes, killing her and destroying the entire city.