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Can The Incredible Hulk Die? (It's Complicated)

Marvel Comics has a deep roster of characters who are so powerful they can bring planets or galaxies to their knees. Some are galactic powerhouses, like Captain Marvel or Kang the Conqueror. Others are masters of the mystic arts, like Dr. Strange or Scarlet Witch. One of the more powerful characters to grace the pages of Marvel is Bruce Banner's alter ego, the Incredible Hulk. He may be so powerful that killing him is nearly impossible.

What makes the Hulk so hard to kill is his reaction to anger fueled by his unending rage. Every time he gets mad, the good doctor transforms into, as Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) puts it, "an enormous green rage monster." He has two characteristics that make him more powerful than others with whom he comes into raging conflict. His skin is nearly impenetrable, able to withstand bullets and other considerable force. This, combined with his regenerative ability, means if anything is powerful enough to do damage, it won't keep him down for long.

In the film "The Incredible Hulk," Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson) comments that Banner's blood would make humans impervious to disease. All of this makes the prospect of killing him extremely difficult. But that doesn't mean it is impossible.

Hulk is killed in the comics

Bruce Banner and his embodiment of failed anger management may be one of the more complicated heroes to dispatch, but that doesn't mean he hasn't died multiple times in the comics. Killing the monster has taken some inventive attempts by some of the most powerful adversaries. One of those adversaries is Onslaught.

Onslaught is the physical manifestation of a combination of the consciousnesses of both Professor X and Magneto. As they are two of the most powerful mutants in the world, Onslaught is a devastating enemy. While it takes the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Hulk, the latter is separated from his Banner identity and killed. Another more violent end for Hulk comes when he eats Old Man Logan only to allow him to regenerate inside him before he tears his way out and kills Hulk instantly.

One of the more famous stories that sees the end of the gamma giant is "What If? Planet Hulk." While the original story sees an explosion that kills his wife and child, this Hulk takes his wife and child's place and sacrifices himself on the planet. The events change the story of the following book, "World War Hulk," which sees his wife seeking retribution on Earth's heroes and killing a handful of them.

Can you kill Banner instead?

The Incredible Hulk may be incredibly difficult to kill, but his alter ego, Bruce Banner, is no warrior. The simple scientist known more for his brain than any combat ability is a much easier target. That doesn't mean it's easy picking. Banner (Mark Ruffalo) explained in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that he tried to end it himself by putting a bullet in his head, but "the other guy spit it back out."

Banner is much more vulnerable in the comics, as there are a few times when enemies wait until the Hulk becomes the man before attacking. In "The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe," Frank Castle's origin is retconned, and his family was killed during a superhero battle instead of by gangsters. The result is the Punisher passing his judgment on heroes instead. He takes out the Hulk by placing a tracker on him and waiting until he transforms back into an easier target.

Another time the character's human side becomes the downfall is against Deadpool. In "Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe Vol 1 #2," Hulk easily dismembers the Merc with the Mouth and reverts back to Banner. While he sleeps, Deadpool regenerates and beheads Banner, taking him down. The Incredible Hulk may be one of the most challenging characters to kill in the Marvel Universe, but that doesn't mean a few adversaries haven't accomplished the feat. Luckily for us, iconic figures like Bruce Banner and Hulk don't stay gone for long.