The Incredible Hulk (2008) is a comic book film, but oddly takes primary inspiration from a TV show. That TV series, also called The Incredible Hulk, ran five season starting in 1977, and brought about the trope of Banner on the run. Despite this, there are plenty of comic book references and characters. Here’s our reading list for The Incredible Hulk.
The Incredible Hulk #1
Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
First appearance of Bruce Banner, Hulk, Betsy Ross, Thunderbolt Ross
Meet the Hulk, a character that have fascinated audiences for over 50 years. The film only alludes to an origin, the comic tells the tales of Bruce Banner getting caught in a game explosion that turns him into the Hulk. Along with Banner, we meet two others for the first time, Betsy Banner and her dad, General Thunderbolt Ross.
That first Hulk story arc is available in The Incredible Hulk Marvel Masterworks Volume 1 and The Incredible Hulk Epic Collection Man Or Monster.
Tales To Astonish #62
Stan Lee, Carl Burgus
First appearance of The Leader.
Despite joining the Avengers, Hulk was soon relegated to sharing the Tales To Astonish title with Giant Man. In this era we met some of Hulk’s greatest foes, including the Leader, who is only alluded to in the film. Samuel Sterns has a completely different origin in the comics – he was a janitor turned villain. We only briefly see him in his first appearance.
Tales To Astonish #90
Stan Lee, Bill Everett
First appearance of the Abomination.
The Abomination in the film version ditches the reptile look, but otherwise he remains the dark mirror of the Hulk. His human form Emil Blonsky was an Eastern European spy caught in a convenient nuclear accident.
These early Tales To Astonish stories are collected in The Incredible Hulk Epic Collection The Hulk Must Die.
Incredible Hulk Vol.2 #141
Stan Lee, Herb Trimple
First appearance of Doc Samson.
The last supporting character to appear is Leonard ‘Doc’ Samson. Taken from the Samson story, he has super strength tied to his hair. In later years, he served as the Hulk’s psychiatrist, a role that is alluded to here (although many of his scenes were cut).
Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale
Best Hulk Year One story
Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale created a series of Marvel stories looking at the early years of heroes. Hulk Gray was their take on Banner’s early years. Not only is it an acclaimed modern look at his origin, this film actually alludes to specific panel art.
Other comic book references.
- One of Ross’s soldiers is named Kathleen Sparr. In the comics, Kathleen Spar is one of the Hulkbusters.
- The pizza place belongs to Stanley Lieber, Stan Lee’s real name.
- In the computer lab is an unnamed character played by Martin Starr. According to the (non canon) novelisation, he’s Amadeus Cho, a character who would one day become the Hulk as well.
- References to the Super Soldier program, and how it links to the Weapon Plus program.
- Dr Reinstein is a reference to Abraham Erskine, who we will meet in Captain America The First Avenger.
- Lots of other Hulk things from various books over the years. The phrases – Hulk Smash and You won’t like me when I’m angry. Jumping out of a plane to Hulk out. Clapping his hands together to create a concussive force.