If there is one chink in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is their handling of the Hulk. Not only was his MCU solo project underwhelming, but when audiences got a Hulk they cheered for (in Avengers), Marvel did nothing to build on him. One of the biggest reasons for this inaction is most likely the Hulk’s all-too-powerful disposition that has been established. Why is that a bad thing? Well, just who can beat the Hulk?
Over the years, Hulk’s powers have swelled to a point where he has become near immortal (if not, totally). What fun is a character that always wins and overcomes every obstacle? In 2003’s Hulk, the hero faces off against the military, the Absorbing Man and Josh Lucas – all of whom he defeats with ease. In 2008’s Incredible Hulk, he takes down the military, the Abomination and his inner demons with the same level of effort. Good movies create good conflict. Neither did this. Throughout both films, audiences never feared the Hulk may lose. He was too unstoppable.
In 2012’s Avengers, things got much more interesting for Hulk. He was less a protagonist than a weapon unleashed against an alien army and a Norse god. But did any of us worry about his well-being? Maybe we were concerned that he would fail to get the job done, but we all knew Hulk himself would come out unscathed. Avengers even added to his invincible mythos when Bruce Banner describes his ill-fated suicide attempt.
As Marvel gears up for future phases that involve more cosmic and magic powers, there is hope for a Hulk scenario that will appease writers and fans alike: a world where Hulk can be defeated. This will create plot lines that are more exciting (less predictable). So exactly how can that be done? Who can beat the Hulk?
How To Beat The Hulk
Hulk is a gigantic rage beast whose strength increases proportionally with his level of anger. If an enemy has any chance of taking him down, they would need to confront him in low- or no-rage mode. Even at his weakest, though, Hulk can lift 100 tons. So the likes of Captain America, Wolverine, or Daredevil aren’t going to contend for more than a few seconds.
The best one could do is surprise-attack Bruce Banner, but they better act swiftly. As soon as the Hulk monster is triggered, the rage will come on fast and strong. Whoever pissed him off better be ready to counter the attack if he didn’t neutralize it first. Once Hulk reaches full rage, he would be unstoppable for any terrestrial hero.
This would be a tricky tactic, because it would require an opponent that can withstand the Hulk’s blows. In theory it could work. If an opponent like Sebastian Shaw or Strong Guy could spar with Hulk in a way that doesn’t aggravate him and make him angrier, there is a chance they can draw him into a down-cycle. Then they can unleash the kinetic energy stored during the fight upon Hulk when he is at his “weakest”.
This theory would be tough to swallow, however, as Hulk would inevitably get angrier as the fight progressed. This would make him angrier, more powerful, and more unstoppable. It would take a very controlled set of circumstances to pull this tactic off.
Hulk has susceptibility to powerful magic but also has shown the ability to adapt to new situations. He’s exhibited the ability breathe underwater, to survive in space and to resist natural forces that should destroy him. If a sorcerer like Doctor Strange were to use dark magic against Hulk, there is a risk in making him angrier and thus stronger. Even if magic were used to transport the Hulk into the sun or a black hole, he may not necessarily be destroyed. He can be trapped in a limbo like state, getting angrier and angrier, waiting for his chance to return and exact revenge.
Think Outside This Dimension
A being who resides outside of the third dimension can hand Hulk his ass. One thing that Hulk is bound by is time and space. He, like most, is trapped in this existence. A being with the ability to slip through time and space would have perfect evasive capabilities and better potential to counter-attack. Infinity and Eternity are two cosmic characters that would demolish Hulk’s existence.
I suppose any character would have a chance if they were graced with the ability to time travel. Think Wolverine in Days of Future Past. The character would just need to go back in time before Bruce Banner became Hulk and stop the accident from occurring. Then no rage monster to worry about.
Who Can Beat The Hulk?
With MCU’s commitment to a cosmic universe that introduces the likes of Thanos and Doctor Strange, the foundation for a more evenly contested Hulk battle enters the horizon. This may very well lead to a Hulk solo project at some point, but in the very least it should extend his story line past being the bouncer for NYC.
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