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.
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?
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.
!(/images/features/changing-faces-of-hulk/edward-norton.jpg)**The Incredible Hulk**
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.
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.