The story of how the Hulk got his powers varies according to the period the story we published and whether it is a comic or a movie.
The story has changed over the years but the result is the same and he ends up with the same powers.
Most stories about the Hulk blame the change on a burst of Gamma Radiation. His powers result from this radiation but exactly what caused his exposure changes a lot. In the first version of the Hulk, he turned grey (not green) every night and returned to being Dr. Banner in the morning.
In this article, we will look at the various versions of the story.
Robert Bruce Banner – Early Years
To fully explain the events leading up to the incident where Robert Bruce Banner became the Hulk, we must understand his childhood.
Robert Bruce Banner is the son of Dr. Brian Banner, who is an atomic physicist.
His mother was Rebecca Bruce.
Rebecca loved her son very much and her son loved his mother, however, Dr. Brian Bruce disliked their child, which he had never wanted.
Bruce was an angry alcoholic who was incredibly jealous of his son because his wife Rebecca loved him so much.
Brian also had a delusional belief that his work with radiation had made Bruce into a mutant.
Brian frequently abused his son physically.
Aware of the abuse, his cousin Jennifer Walters would spend many hours with Bruce in the library, distracted by books.
Eventually, Brian murdered his wife, and they placed him in a mental hospital.
Brian Banner’s sister Susan Banner brought Bruce up as her own son.
Bruce, affected by his abuse, grew up as a very introverted boy, very intelligent. In fact, Bruce was an extremely gifted child.
After graduating from a special Science High School, Robert Bruce Banner studied Nuclear Physics in Navajo, New Mexico., at the Desert State University.
His favorite professor was Herbert Josiah Weller.
For a time he also studied at the prestigious Harvard University, before he transferred to Pennsylvania State University.
It was here that he worked with a Canadian, Walter Langkowski, with whom he shared an interest in Gamma Radiation.
They met while Langkowski was a freshman and this contact only lasted one semester, but it was Banner that sparked his interest in Gamma Radiation.
Langkowski then moved on to play for the Green Bay Packers (which made him quite wealthy), before going to M..I. T and continuing his studies.
Langkowski worked at McGill University in Montreal. When he later learned about the Hulk and that it was a transformed Bruce Banner, he studied the subject in great detail.
It was while Robert Bruce Banner was studying at Pennsylvania State University that he got rid of all his clothes and invested in a set of purple suits, so he would not have to waste time every day deciding what to wear (influenced by Albert Einstein).
It was while he was a student that Bruce Banner first met Tony Stark.
Tony Stark was a genius. He was an inventor who also was a billionaire.
He eventually became Iron Man.
But before that in his student days, he became a great friend and scientific rival of Robert Bruce Banner.
The paths of Stark and Banner would cross many times as later events unfolded.
Banner now finished his education, looked for employment.
His ambition had been to pursue a course of philanthropy with his scientific skills, but unable to get funding, Robert Bruce Banner had little choice but to seek work with the United States Defense Department.
He began by working at Desert Base in New Mexico.
It was at this base that he met Thaddeus E. “Thunderbolt” Ross, who was the base commander.
He also met Betty Ross, who was the commander’s daughter.
Robert Bruce Banner and Betty eventually began a relationship.
Robert Bruce Banner invented and constructed the Gamma Bomb, or G Bomb, which was a nuclear weapon that released a high Gamma Radiation output.
Robert Bruce Banner – The Transformation
On the day of the first underground test of the G Bomb, Robert Bruce Banner was in the instrumentation bunker.
Banner noticed that a civilian had breached security and entered the test site.
Banner ordered Igor Starsky (his assistant) to delay the countdown sequence.
Banner went to help the civilian to safety.
However, nobody had realized that Igor Starsky was actually a Soviet Agent (who would have guessed with a name like Igor Starsky), and Igor did nothing, as he hoped that Robert Bruce Banner would die in the explosion and that it would shut down the project.
When Robert Bruce Banner reached the civilian (a teenager called Rick Jones) he threw him into a protection trench, but could not find protection himself.
The bomb exploded and the Gamma Radiation field reached the surface and passed through him.
He should have died but because of some odd genetic factor (think back to his father and saying that Bruce was a mutant) Banner survived.
However, he turned into a grey-skinned giant humanoid.
General Ross, gave this creature a name: “the Hulk.”
In the beginning, Banner would change into the grey Hulk creature at sunset and then change back at dawn.
Over time, this transformation became less connected to the time of day and was triggered by Banner’s emotional state.
Eventually, it was realized that when Banner was excited or angry that the adrenaline release was the factor that triggered the transformation.
Typically, the Hulk could access none of Banner’s intelligence or memories and easily became enraged.
The angrier he became, the stronger he became.
The military tried to keep control of the Hulk but was constantly unsuccessful.
Rick Jones (The Teenager) tried to help Banner evade capture, as he felt responsible for the events that led to the transformation.
It was during this period that the Hulk stopped the Gargoyle from destroying America.
He also thwarted the attempt of an alien race called the Toad men to invade Earth.
It was after the Gargoyle incident that the hulk changed color from grey to green.
Bruce Banner and the Hulk
Before the Hulk transformation Banner had been like many other intelligent young people, establishing himself in a career, finding romance, and living a “normal” life.
The transformation changed all of that and was a major transformation of his life.
Are The Hulk and Bruce Banner the Same Person?
The Hulk and Bruce Banner are two distinct personalities that are contained in the same boy.
They are aware of each other and Banner always refers to the Hulk as someone else, despite sharing a body.
The Hulk is resentful of Bruce Banner and would prefer to get rid of him.
They are very different and the hulk sees Bruce Banner as weak, and a puny creature.
The Hulk also blames Banner for not preventing the death of “their” mother Rebecca Banner.
In the MCU the writers seem to go down the route that Banner has Dissociative Identity Disorder and that the Hulk and Banner are two of the identities inside the same body.
They also hinted that there may be other identities in there.
Physical Results of the Transformation
Because of the accident where Banner was exposed to massive amounts of Gamma Radiation, which triggered a pre-existing genetic trait, the Hulk has become the strongest and most physically durable being in the Marvel Cinematic universe.
Whereas other characters in the MCU have maximum wights that they can lift, some very huge figures indeed, The Hulk has no limit given.
His strength is directly proportionate to his anger.
The process that triggers the transformation is possibly a chemical one connected to his adrenaline levels.
This process seems to vary in terms of the time required to transform.
On some occasions, it seems to take a minute as we watch the size of his body grow, but on other occasions, it seems almost instantaneous.
There is some uncertainty whether the chemical solution is the correct one, as there have been some occasions where transformation has taken place while Hulk has no noticeable rise in adrenaline levels.
This suggests that the transformation might be triggered more by a psychological reason than a physiological one.
The Hulk can regenerate. Despite being incredibly durable the Hulk can regenerate destroyed parts of his body without medical intervention.
This ability allows the Hulk to lose a sizeable chunk of his head in a battle, and for his head to grow straight back.
This makes it almost impossible to kill the Hulk – in fact, as you’ll learn in another article, the Hulk is immortal.
Many of us may have undergone some event in our lives after which we would never be the same.
The sheer scale of the changes that occurred during Hulk’s exposure to the Gamma Rays, must surely be on a level that is so great that the Hulk or rather Bruce Banner would have extreme psychological damage.
Bruce banner did indeed receive huge additional power and suffer such a major transformation gaining extreme power, but what damage did it do to his psyche?