The Best Hulk Villains of All Time

The Hulk is quite literally one of the strongest beings in Marvel's fictional universe. In his basic form as the genius physicist Bruce Banner, he possesses a brilliant mind capable of solving the most complex problems.

But it's in his metamorphosed state as everybody's favorite green-skinned, rampaging monster, aside from Godzilla, that makes Banner the wonderful character he is. From his debut in 1962's The Incredible Hulk #1, the Hulk was a different kind of hero than the ones featured in DC or Marvel comics from the previous decades. He wasn't a billionaire playboy with access to high-tech gadgets, nor was he an alien or a mythical god who took to protecting Earth.

Science Gone Wrong

hulk 1 Universal MSN
Image Credit: Universal.

He was just a man subjected to a science experiment gone wrong, transformed into a Mr. Hyde-like figure of primal emotion, hunted by the US government simply because he exists. In many ways, he's more akin to Frankenstein's monster than Captain America or Spider-Man.

In the years since his debut, Hulk's unique backstory allowed for a different kind of comic book, one populated by mutated geniuses, dedicated military officials, and several evil versions of himself.

One of the most significant pieces of Marvel-related news we've learned recently is that Harrison Ford will be stepping into the role of General “Thunderbolt” Ross. Set to debut in Captain America: New World Order, Ford will inherit the role from the late great William Hurt, one of the MCU‘s earliest and most memorable antagonists. In the wake of that announcement, we thought we'd look back at some of the greatest villains in the Hulk's long history.

Related: 8 Controversial Comedies That Could Never Get Made Today


In the most straightforward terms, the U-Foes are essentially an evil version of the Fantastic Four, having become superpowered villains after trying (and failing) to replicate the experiment that turned Reed Richards and his team into the heroes they are today.

There's the telekinetically-powered leader, Vector; the radiation-producing X-Ray; Vapor, who's capable of taking the form of any known gas she thinks of; and Ironclad, an entirely metallic superhuman with extreme strength and durability at his disposal.

The idea of a sinister Fantastic Four is an entertaining one, and indeed, it's the U-Foes' complete antithesis of the Four that makes them so consistently fun to see. Unlike Mr. Fantastic's band of heroes, the U-Foes are largely inexperienced, far too cocky, and incapable of fighting together as a group — often splintering apart moments after starting a fight against the Hulk.


Juggernaut 1 Marvel MSN
Image Credit: Marvel.

When it comes to Marvel comics, it's not unheard of for a villain from one comic book to suddenly show up in another. Case in point with the Juggernaut, the unstoppable giant who regularly menaces the X-Men and (in more recent years) Spider-Man.

The stepbrother of the X-Men's leader, Charles Xavier, Cain Marko was granted superhuman strength and stamina after encountering the legendary Crimson Gem of Cyttorak in Southeast Asia. From there, he became the Juggernaut — a regular enemy of the X-Men and a prominent member of Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants (despite not being a mutant).

Juggernaut has occasionally appeared in the pages of The Incredible Hulk from time to time and is one of the few villains capable of matching Hulk physically. Their battles are always epic in scope, reaping pandemonium wherever their fights end up transpiring. And what's more, their encounters answer that age-old question: what exactly does happen when an indestructible force meets an immovable object?

Related: Top 5 TV Show Cancellations That Still Frustrate Disappointed Fans


By most comic book standards, the Wendigo is probably the darkest, most bizarre villain in any Marvel comic from the 1970s. Instead of having one central character who embodies the villain, the Wendigo's identity passes on to anyone who commits cannibalism in the woodlands of northern Canada.

Marvel adapting local myths and legends is a hallmark of their far-ranging universe, with Wendigo just one more example of this storytelling trait. In terms of its representation in The Incredible Hulk, the Wendigo has been portrayed as an invincible force fueled purely by beast-like instincts by wanton destruction.

The Wendigo has routinely shown up to battle the Hulk now and again — once even managing to infect the Hulk and turn him into the ghoulish Wendihulk. They may lack the same rich personality you expect to find from a standout villain, but the Wendigo still makes for a fun, somewhat horrifying antagonist for the Hulk to face.

Brian Banner

Brian Banner has the unique distinction of being one of the few figures from Bruce Banner's past who crops up again as a villain of the Hulk. The biological father of Bruce, Brian Banner was an abusive alcoholic who regularly mistreated young Bruce and his mother, Rebecca.

Brian's mental and emotional abuse of his family was so horrendous Bruce grew up utterly terrified of his father, mentally blocking out some of the most painful memories he had of Brian.

Having been raised by an abusive father himself, Brian believed he had some “monster” gene inside his family tree, resolving never to have children. When Bruce came into the world, he felt his son was destined to become the next monster in the Banner family line, beating him as a way to punish him preemptively.

As Bruce's father, Brian occupies a distinct place in the Hulk's rogues' gallery. Though he lacks superhuman abilities, he's capable of mentally crippling the Hulk from a psychological perspective. And with his basis in the real world, he's a character that proves not all the worst villains are those born out of a science experiment gone wrong.


wolverine 1 Marvel MSN
Image Credit: Marvel.

Yeah, that's right — Wolverine. One of the most famous members of the X-Men, Wolverine made his comic book debut as an antagonist to the Hulk back in the mid-1970s. Introduced as a superhuman agent of the Canadian government, Wolverine was assigned to eliminate the Hulk halfway through a battle with the carnivorous supervillain, Wendigo.

In the years that followed, Wolverine of course went on to become a beloved superhero in his own right, as well as one of the most popular members of the X-Men. That being said, it's interesting to see his earliest appearances as a foil to the Hulk, making you wonder what might've been if Marvel had chosen to continue portraying Wolverine as a supervillain instead.

While Wolverine and the Hulk started as enemies, they eventually became close allies after the conclusion of their initial battles together. In several of the many alternative universes throughout Marvel's continuity, though, they've once again renewed their original rivalry, such as the 2005 miniseries, Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk.

The Absorbing Man

Don't let that awful name fool you: The Absorbing Man is one of the most powerful antagonists to ever face the Hulk. Intended to be the ultimate weapon to combat his Asgardian brother, Thor, the Absorbing Man came to fruition when Loki tricked former boxer Carl “Crusher” Creel into drinking a magical potion.

Now gifted with the ability to absorb anything he touches, the Absorbing Man uses his newfound powers to break out of police custody, becoming a regular enemy of the Hulk after his escape.

For decades, the Absorbing Man has been portrayed as a recurring antagonist to the Hulk, although more recent comics have begun to present him more as a conflicted anti-hero. No matter his allegiance, Creel is still an entertaining character to see in any medium, regardless of whether he's a friend or foe to the Hulk.


MV5BZjI4YTQ0MTUtOGYyMS00ZjY0LWE0Y2EtZDQ5NjI0MTM3ZGYyXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzA4NTc5MjE@. V1 scaled e1669877009671
Image Credit: Marvel Pictures.

The whole “evil version” of the main hero is a hallmark of any self-respecting comic book, and The Incredible Hulk has quite a few. There's the nightmarish alternative version, the Maestro; the Fantastic Four wannabes, the U-Foes; and of course, the earliest Hulk duplicate, the Abomination.

Making his first appearance in 1967, Emil Blonsky was a talented KGB agent who deliberately exposed himself to potentially lethal levels of gamma radiation, recreating the original experiment that turned Bruce Banner into the Hulk.

The added gamma rays, however, turned Blonsky into a far stronger, more animal-like version of the Hulk. Dubbed the Abomination, Blonsky became one of the foremost enemies of the Hulk, as well as one of the hero's most iconic counterparts.


Evil futuristic versions of classic heroes are slightly rarer than “mirror image” characters like the Abomination. But every so often, a character like the Maestro comes along, proving himself to be every bit as nefarious as the Hulk's worst enemies — if not more so.

Combining the superior intellect of Bruce Banner and the physical strength of the Hulk, the Maestro establishes himself as a dictatorial ruler on the post-apocalyptic Earth-9200. A manifestation of Banner's worst fears about his behemoth alter ego, the Maestro serves as a bizarro version of the Hulk who bends the universe to his will.

Stronger, faster, and far more intelligent than the Hulk, the Maestro offers a worst-case scenario concerning the Hulk's future — one where he gave in to his base destructive instincts and uses his strength to rule the world. It's an interesting basis for a character and one that works dramatically well when it comes to any encounters between the Maestro and his younger self.

The Leader

With the Hulk's heavy basis in superhuman strength, it's only natural that one of his most notable archenemies have a genius-level IQ. The complete opposite of the Hulk in every way imaginable, the Leader was introduced to The Incredible Hulk as lowly janitor Samuel Sterns.

Exposed to gamma radiation at the chemical plant he worked at, Sterns gained heightened superhuman intelligence, physically metamorphosing into a green-skinned humanoid with an overly large cranium.

An average man whose transformation allowed him to fulfill his lifelong ambition (being smart), Sterns embraced his new identity as the Leader, using his mental gifts to aid him in a life of crime. His criminal ventures soon lead him into conflict with the Hulk, paving the way for numerous battles over the next few decades.

He may be a little too gimmicky or cartoonish for some readers, but there's no denying he's an excellent foil for the brutish Hulk, every bit as intelligent as Bruce Banner himself.

General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross/Red Hulk

general ross 1 Marvel MSN
Image Credit: Marvel.

A character that's been in print as long as the Hulk himself, General Thaddeus Ross is quite literally the perfect comic book villain. A fully formed individual in a world of often outlandish characters, he's as much an anti-hero as he is a straight villain — an exciting twist in the often black-and-white world of Marvel comics.

The father of Bruce Banner's love interest, Betsy Ross, and his immediate superior at the gamma bomb testing facility where Banner turned into the Hulk, Ross grows obsessed with a singular desire to capture his green-skinned son-in-law.

His dedication to the task leads him to become one of the Hulk's longest-running enemies, pushing old Thunderbolt to the point of exposing himself to gamma radiation and becoming the all-powerful Red Hulk.

What makes Ross such a great villain is that he seems much more realistic in personality and motivation than any other character in Hulk comics. He isn't some megalomaniac driven by a desire to rule over Earth or the universe. He's a man desperately trying to right his wrongs, the Hulk's very existence reminding him of his greatest failure as a military tactician.

It's always a joy to see him in any capacity (whether in a comic, TV show, or the MCU). He makes for a highly personal antagonist to the Hulk during their repeated clashes.

More From Wealth of Geeks

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Richard Chachowski is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. He loves reading, his dog Tootsie, and pretty much every movie to ever exist (especially Star Wars).