×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Every MCU Hulk fight ranked worst to best

Our love for Marvel's Incredible Hulk is always going to be a bit of a strange thing. You may feel bad for Bruce Banner, you may want him to find some kind of peace, but at the end of the day, no matter how intriguing or sympathetic a character Bruce may be, it's the Hulk that you want to see. Fans want to watch him smash, and they don't much care whether he's smashing friend or foe. 

But not all Hulk battles are equal. While some are thrilling, terrifying, or even hilarious, some are too short, leave too much to the imagination, and do a disservice to our favorite green Goliath in service of tired storytelling tricks. But almost all give us plenty of smashing. From one-on-one gladiator matches to the big guy facing a whole horde of baddies, here's our picks for all the Hulk's MCU fights from worst to best. 

Hulk vs. Thanos

If you've never heard of the Worf Effect, it's simple — you take the biggest, toughest good guy, and you have the bad guy beat the tar out of him right out of the gate. That way, your audience knows the villain means business. It's named after the unfortunate alien Worf who's constantly beat down in the late '80s/early '90s TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation.  

This is exactly what happens in the opening minutes of 2018's Avengers: Infinity War. The Hulk attacks Thanos, only to get easily beaten unconscious by the Mad Titan. Even if you forget the fact that this makes no sense when we consider how well less powerful heroes like Captain America fare against Thanos, the Hulk/Thanos bout works hard to earn its lousy spot on our list because the green guy never gets his shot at a rematch. Worse still, we hardly see him at all in the final battle of 2019's Avengers: Endgame

To use the Hulk for a Worf Effect is bad enough. To make it what will likely be his last major action scene in the MCU? That's just lame. 

Hulk takes on Hydra

Avengers: Age of Ultron opens with the team reunited and raiding a Hydra base in Eastern Europe. We don't see a lot of the Hulk during the fight compared to some of the other heroes, but what we see is impressive. And considering how long it took for the Other Guy to come out in The Avengers, it's a welcome change. 

Among other things, we get to see the Hulk plow into the Hydra bunker threatening Hawkeye and Black Widow and walk through it like it isn't even there. We also get some great shots of the Hulk, including during our introduction to Black Widow's technique of effecting the Hulk's transformation back to Bruce Banner. 

One interesting question the battle brings up is whether or not the Hulk gets an earpiece. It seems like he does because he responds when Natasha asks for help with the bunker. But it's strange to imagine the Hulk tolerating all these puny human voices buzzing around in his head.

Hulk tries to smash Surtur

In 2017's Thor: Ragnarok, Thor has Loki unleash Surtur, who fulfills his destiny by destroying Asgard and the villain Hela in the process. As he's rampaging, the Hulk returns from his fight with Fenris the wolf, and no one's bothered to tell him the plan. So the Hulk does what the Hulk does — he smashes. 

Or, at least, he tries. He knocks Surtur back a bit before the fire giant flicks him away like a bug. Once Hulk lands on the Bifrost, Thor manages to stop him from attacking Surtur again. It's one of a bunch of funny moments the Thor/Hulk odd couple enjoys in Ragnarok

While it's pretty comical, we have to admit there was some disappointment. The shot of Hulk leaping at Surtur with his giant fists clenched and ready for smashing was regularly featured in Ragnarok trailers and TV spots. The way things turn out is funny, but you can hardly be blamed if you were primed for a full-length Hulk/Surtur clash.

Hulk's fight with Fenris

While the other "Revengers" clash with Hela and her undead army in Thor: Ragnarok, the Hulk has another job. The green Goliath goes one-on-one with Hela's favorite pet, the giant wolf Fenris. Their battle has them topple off the Bifrost and into the water below. Fenris gives the Hulk a good fight, biting deep into his emerald hide at one point and thrashing him around underwater. But as the battle reaches the edge of Asgard, where the water spills into empty space, the Hulk gives his canine foe one last massive punch that sends the beast falling into the void. 

It's a good fight, though it feels like we don't really get enough of it. There are shots of it here and there in between the battle on the Bifrost. Honestly though, you get the impression once the fight begins that, oh, that's why they bothered putting Fenris in this — so Hulk had something to do at the end.

Hulk vs. the S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot

The battle between the S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot who opens fire on the Hulk during the man-monster's rampage in the Helicarrier in 2012's The Avengers isn't much of a battle, and its outcome is never really a big question. However, it's scary, funny, and it tells us a lot about the Hulk early on. 

While the Hulk's busy tossing around Thor, Agent Maria Hill orders the pilot to engage the Hulk. He opens fire, enraging the beast and making him leap out of the Helicarrier at the jet while the pilot desperately calls out, "Target angry! Target angry!" The pilot survives, but his ride doesn't. As Hulk begins tearing the jet to pieces, the pilot ejects. The Hulk is ready for him, grabs the seat mid-air, and hurls it at the ground, though the pilot still has plenty of time for his chute to pop. Hulk hardly seems to care and he keeps ripping the jet to pieces until it finally explodes. 

Remember, this is the first "Hulk out" sequence since 2008's The Incredible Hulk, and it lets us know right away Joss Whedon intends for his version of the Hulk to be much more powerful than the one in the earlier film. The very fact that he's able to survive the explosion of the jet and the subsequent drop makes him seem much more powerful than the Hulk of the 2008 movie. 

Hulk goes up against a robot army

Bruce Banner doesn't want the Other Guy to get involved in the final battle of Avengers: Age of Ultron, but when Black Widow pushes him off a ledge, she doesn't give him much of a choice. Once he and Widow are on the floating island that Sokovia has become along with the rest of the team, Nat tells him to "go be a hero," and he does.

However, we don't get to see a lot of it at first. We only get a couple shots of Hulk stomping Ultron's drones before the villain's final assault on the team at the center of town. But that's when the Hulk gets really busy with the robot smashing, even destroying robots with his teeth. And of course, after Vision, Iron Man, and Thor turn Ultron into mostly melted slag, the green guy shows up to give him a punch that sends him flying for miles. 

Hulk vs. Thor, Part I in The Avengers

As soon as the Hulk's attack on Black Widow was interrupted in The Avengers, and it was revealed her savior was Thor, any old school Marvel fan had to be excited. Hulk/Thor fights are some of the most well-remembered throw-downs of comicdom, and the notion of a live-action bout between the two with technology that could finally do it justice (unlike the cringe-worthy battle between the two in 1988's The Incredible Hulk Returns) was thrilling enough to get any Marvel fan pumped. 

This fight has some great moments, with perhaps the most memorable being Thor's epic hammer shot to Hulk's face, and soon afterwards, the Hulk's failure to lift Mjolnir. But for the most part, Hulk dominates the thunder god during the fight. Still, the two don't really have the room on the Helicarrier to truly let loose like they could. When Agent Hill yells over the coms that the fight between the two could tear the Helicarrier apart, she's not wrong. So while the fight is pretty cool, it would've been a lot more epic if they'd been standing on solid ground.

Hulk fights the Black Ops team

Not counting the brief flashback montage in the beginning of 2008's The Incredible Hulk, our first true "Hulk out" scene in the MCU is when Bruce Banner is cornered by his bullying coworkers in the Brazilian bottling plant while he's being pursued by the Black Ops team led by Emil Blonsky. 

Director Louis Leterrier handles this battle between the Hulk and the Black Ops team beautifully. At first, much like the Hulk's stalking of Black Widow through the Helicarrier's guts in The Avengers, this scene feels more like something out of a horror movie. We watch Hulk mercilessly smashing and killing the Black Ops team members — a deleted scene on the DVD confirms most leave in body bags — mostly without us seeing more than shadows of the beast. It makes it that much more powerful when he finally reveals himself to Blonsky, seconds before hurling a forklift at him.

The gladiator match

The gladiator battle between Hulk and Thor in Thor: Ragnarok is classic. It's beautiful to look at it, it's funny with callbacks to Natasha's lullaby and Loki's epic beatdown in The Avengers, and it gives these two powerhouses the chance to really cut loose. It would get a higher spot on our list, except that it really doesn't make any sense. Plot-wise, the battle serves mainly to introduce us to Thor's new Raiden-esque lightning abilities, and in order to get there, the scene breaks from everything we've seen in the MCU up until now. 

The Hulk utterly dominates Thor in their battle on the Helicarrier in The Avengers, and the only time Thor manages to get the edge is when he summons Mjolnir ... which is shattered on a cliff in Norway at the time of his Sakaar battle with Hulk. From what we've seen of the combatants' respective strength and stamina in past battles, Thor shouldn't even last to the point where he gets his vision of power from Odin. And let's not forget that the reason Thor gets his power is because he's a god, something that is repeatedly refuted in earlier MCU films. It's a fun battle, but it would be more fun if it made sense. 

Hulk vs. Thor, Part II in The Avengers

Yes, it's a bit of a stretch to call Hulk's sucker punch of Thor in The Avengers a "fight," but it's worth a spot on the list because of its epic hilarity, its wonderful timing, and how even as a quick gag, it says so much about the Hulk and his dynamic with the team. 

So in the scene, Hulk and Thor plow through the Chitauri while surfing on the back of a Leviathan, then they kill the Leviathan which crashes into Grand Central Station. Finding themselves standing next to each other, victorious and momentarily alone, the Hulk — almost as an afterthought — sucker punches Thor, sending him flying away from him. 

It's a hilarious bit, and it's also a perfect character moment. As much as it's obviously meant to get a laugh, what's so perfect about it is that it makes sense. The Hulk doesn't play well with others. Thor may be on his side at the time being, but to the Hulk, that doesn't make them friends. It makes Thor someone he's not currently smashing ... much

Hulk's underrated fight against the Abomination

For some good reasons, The Incredible Hulk continues to be one of the MCU's least favorite additions for many fans. But so far, the history of the MCU has given us exactly one big knock-down clash between the Hulk and one of his most dangerous villains, and that was his battle with the Abomination at the end of the 2008 film.

Admittedly, looking at the Hulk in The Avengers or any subsequent film and comparing it with The Incredible Hulk version doesn't reflect well on the earlier attempt, but if you forgive Incredible Hulk its failings, you can see it gives us a great bout between these two old foes. Even though Abomination doesn't look a lot like the classic comic book version, his strength relative to the Hulk is accurate. He starts off stronger than the hero, but as the fight progresses and the Hulk keeps getting angrier, the Hulk's increasing strength puts him over the edge. It ends with, among other things, the very first live-action Hulk utterance of his beloved catch phrase, "Hulk smash!"

Hulk goes to war with the US Army

In the comics, the Hulk's most persisent foe isn't a supervillain, it's the United States military. Usually, the guy who's directing these military assaults is General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross. The Incredible Hulk gave us a great example of this conflict when Ross' forces corner Bruce Banner on a college campus, forcing him to Hulk out and smash his way through them. 

And smash he does. While the Hulk of Incredible Hulk doesn't express quite as much physical power as later versions, the battle does a good job showing us exactly what he's capable of. We see the soldiers' bullets, at best, annoy the green Goliath. When Ross rolls out Tony Stark's sonic weapons to take down the beast, we get a perfect example of how the Hulk's rage increases his power when seeing Betty in distress makes the beast angry enough to survive the sonic attack and trash the cannons. 

We also get a kind of preview of Captain America when pre-Abomination Emil Blonsky makes the bad choice of trying to take the Hulk on solo with his new super solider abilities. 

Hulk and the puny god

The Hulk's epic domination of Loki at the end of The Avengers is an absolute landmark in the Infinity Saga. It is, first and foremost, hilarious. Any theater that wasn't filled with uncontrollable laughter during the scene was likely either empty or filled with zombies. 

But while the main reason the scene is so memorable is because of how funny it is, it actually provides a perfect climax to one of the film's themes. Throughout The Avengers, we're hearing from less "super" characters like Nick Fury who are talking about how the world is struggling to react to all of these thunder gods and unfrozen super soldiers who are suddenly showing up. When justifying the rationale behind the WMDs of "Phase Two," Nick Fury tells the Avengers that S.H.I.E.L.D. had no choice to respond because "the world is filling up with people who can't be matched, who can't be controlled."

The Hulk's abrupt and merciless thrashing of Loki is the perfect reflection of what Nick Fury is talking about. Not only has the Hulk — and by extension, the other heroes — become people who "can't be matched" by the people of Earth, not even an arrogant alien calling himself a god can compare to them. 

Hulk vs. the Hulkbuster

A lot of people had a lot of problems with 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron, but the Hulk's battle with Tony Stark's Hulkbuster suit, aka "Veronica," is a stunning, epic battle and one of the high action marks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

While the idea that Tony Stark has armor designed specifically to take down the Hulk is lifted straight from the comics, the filmmakers add some wonderful touches that make perfect sense. For example, there's the fact that Stark has to keep the suit in orbit while he isn't using it so he can call upon it whenever he needs it. And then there are all the cool features, like being able to turn one of the suit's fists into a trap that grabs the Hulk's wrist and stops him from hurting anyone else. 

While he doesn't win, the Hulk makes a good showing, and we get some classic moments. When the Hulk glares at Tony, carelessly spits out a tooth, and Tony literally apologizes, it's absolutely perfect, as is the fact that Stark ruins his chance of calming the Hulk down when he makes the mistake of mentioning Banner early in the fight.

Hulk's fight against the Chitauri

While 2012's The Avengers brought together heroes from all over the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Hulk stole the show in the final battle against Loki's Chitauri army in New York City. The green Goliath gives us so many classic moments in the climactic battle. There's Cap's simple instructions to "smash," that the Hulk follows happily. He tears through the Chitauri foot soldiers easily and often, and of course, no one can forget the moment that solidifies the Avengers as a team. Bruce's perfectly delivered "I'm always angry" line, followed by him taking out one of the gargantuan Chitauri Leviathans with a single punch to the snout, is one of the most satisfying moments in the MCU. It not only shows us how staggeringly powerful the Hulk is, but it's a great character moment as well, serving as the final ingredient the Avengers need to go from being a ragtag group of superheroes to an actual team.