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Feature
The Changing Faces Of The Hulk
We examine the screen incarnations of Bruce Banner’s rage monster…

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Hulk is on his third big-screen outing in less than a decade, and his fourth major incarnation overall. Each time, his design has been tweaked and altered, even though he always looks more-or-less like a giant angry green man. As Avengers Assemble inches ever closer to release, here’s a spotter’s guide to the many screen Hulks, so you’ll be able to distinguish them all at a glance.

WORDS HELEN O'HARA
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The Incredible Hulk

1977 (pilot) – 1990 (final TV movie)

Over 82 TV episodes, 3 TV movies and two decades, Bill Bixby played Dr David Banner (slight name change, there) and strong man Lou Ferrigno was his big green alter-ego. As the only Hulk played by a real (albeit extremely large) person, this incarnation is obviously smaller than his successors: about 7' tall, just a little over Ferrigno's natural height of 6'5". As a result, he can tackle a bulldozer or a car crusher but not, y'know, a mountain (as in the comics) or an army (as we suspect he will in The Avengers). Still, full marks for being obviously green and extremely muscly. It's worth noting that Ferrigno's voice – in particular his roar – has been used in every subsequent adaptation. That's partly because it's hugely effective and has become indelibly associated with Hulk, and partly because look at the guy! Are you going to risk making him angry?

Hulk

2003

When director Ang Lee first visited effects house ILM to begin work on Hulk, he brought a rock with reddish lichen on it, some driftwood and a miniature sandbox and rake. These, he said, conveyed the emotional textures he was going for with his (anti)hero. This is not your typical director's approach to big angry green monsters. ILM therefore took on a spiritual challenge, creating a Hulk who goes from nine to 15 feet tall, depending on anger levels, and who can jump three miles at a time. He can run at top speeds of 300mph and lift thousands of pounds for good measure (see, for example, playing shot put with a tank). He has an 81" neck, and was brought to life with the help of motion-capture footage of athletes and Ang Lee himself; star Eric Bana sticking principally to the Bruce Banner side of things.

The Incredible Hulk

2008

This Hulk is smaller than Lee's, at 9', and doesn't vary in size according to anger levels. The look is based on Dale Keown's artwork, with a Hulk who's pure muscle and never snacks on doughnuts, basically. Bruce Banner actor Edward Norton got to do some Hulk acting as a film reference, with stunt experts stepping in for action scenes. The inspiration was that Hulk should look like an American football linebacker rather than a bodybuilder, with slightly altered proportions to the previous outing and skin-tone that changes with light and mood, going from near-grey (aha! Grey Hulk!) to more olive. Much less green than previous incarnations then – although thanks to environmental and recycling efforts the set was, ironically, greener. In any case, this Hulk is still strong enough to use two halves of a car as boxing gloves, so you still wouldn't mess.

The Avengers

2012

Mark Ruffalo is the first actor to really play Hulk in full, performance-capturing him throughout and with his face visible through those exaggerated Hulk features. According to Marvel boss Kevin Feige, that's a deliberate approach, making it easier with the rest of the team to try to act against Bruce inside his angry exo-angryman. This Hulk is a little less insanely ripped than The Incredible version: he's still very big – again, about 9' tall – and very muscly, but he's been Hulk for a few years now and time marches even against furious green monsters. Colour-wise, he's still a whiter shade of pale green than Lee's Hulk, but perhaps a touch greener than he was in 2008. Most importantly, however, is that this time he gets an army to SMASH. We can't wait.

 

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Have Your Say
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Your Comments

1 I like Hulk with a bit of meat on him ...
The 2008 one wasn't bad, by any stretch of the imagination, but I always imagine him as a backstreet brawler type rather than a 0% body fat, tofu-eating gym monkey. I think it's more important to get a sense of his weight. He's a juggernaut, not a muscle car. Charlie Bronson, not Dwayne Johnson. Like I say, I think they all look brilliant, and I still really like the ambitious nature of the 2003 version (which looks even more ballsy with age - saw it again on SKY a couple of weeks ago and was blown away that they let Lee get away with so many far-out ideas, especially the stage theatre-like confrontation between Bruce and his father). New one looks especially cool though. Nothing says 'I have massive green balls' like a few tufts of back hair! More

Posted by Nicky C on Friday April 20, 2012, 14:51

2 Ruffalo will Suck
Yeah he's probably a decent fresh face, but no-one can really emulate Norton's skills. If I was Marvel or whatever, I'd have paid Norton. Anything. More

Posted by RamGupta on Thursday April 19, 2012, 12:10

3 Ruffalo is perfect for Joss's Giant
I saw an advanced screening of The Avengers yesterday. I'd love to say the hulk is a highlight but that wouldn't be fair to the rest of the film. It's a highlight amongst many highlights. I loved the film and can't wait to see it again. More

Posted by Fellmeister on Monday April 16, 2012, 07:50

4 The Incredible Hulk
I thought the 2008 version got unjust criticism, i thought it was ok, especially the end fight with the Abomination. It really felt like the comics. And the AA type battle against relapse was neat. Although nothing beats Ang Lee's battle against the gamma-infused pooches. Can't wait for Avengers' Hulk, i reckon Ruffalo would do a perfect Banner. Also, nothing comes close to the theme tune from the TV series. More

Posted by Count Karnstein on Saturday April 14, 2012, 14:32

5
Bana is still my favorite Banner, though I'm not sure about Hulk. More

Posted by Lirik on Saturday April 14, 2012, 10:17

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