Hulk’s 5 Biggest Nightmares That Come True
Bruce Banner already fears losing control – but being the Hulk comes with a lot more to dread…
Things have been pretty intense for the Avengers lately (but honestly, that’s pretty par for the course). In AVENGERS NO ROAD HOME #5, out today, the trials and tribulations continue. In this issue, we’ll see Hulk taking on Hypnos, the Lord of Sleep, in the Realm of Nightmares. With Hulk’s terrifying battle approaching, we thought we’d take a stab at pinning down the Hulk’s top four nightmare scenarios that actually came true. What is it that keeps Bruce Banner awake at night? Read on to find out!
Letting His Anger Take Over
This is the obvious one since it’s Bruce’s deepest fear since becoming the Hulk. In AXIS, we see Banner’s new personality Kluh, who’s so bloodthirsty he even freaks out the Hulk, and we know that’s saying something. And in CIVIL WAR II #3, it’s revealed that Hulk asked Hawkeye to kill him (which of course he did) if it seemed like he was going off the deep end. We’re all afraid of our emotions at times. It’s normal. But when your own super strength can, as we found out in WORLD WAR HULK, make you stronger than most immortals, it’s really, really important to be able to keep a lid on your emotions.
You know how, after a bad break up, it can take a while to start trusting people again? Well, Hulk’s friends actually launched him into space, as we see in the NEW AVENGERS: ILLUMINATI one-shot. This sets off the events of PLANET HULK and then WORLD WAR HULK. That’s a tough thing to come back from. And this isn’t the only time Hulk has been betrayed over the years. Sure, his friends have typically done it to avoid the fallout from a full-on Hulk rage-out. But still, it stings. Hulk may be big and ripped, but underneath all those muscles, he’s just a boy standing in front of his friends, asking them to love him.
Not to go too far down the rabbit hole of pop psychology, but what Hulk and Banner are most afraid of is losing themselves to one another. Banner is afraid of what will happen if he Hulks out, his anger takes over, and he can’t regain control. And Hulk is afraid that Banner will find a way to separate himself from Hulk, or get rid of Hulk all together. And indeed, as we see in 2012’s INCREDIBLE HULK #5, Bruce at one point even contacts Doctor Doom (obviously poor decision making) to try to get his help doing just that. Hulk and Banner have to make peace with one another in order to overcome this fear – and to do that, they have to accept the parts of themselves that the other disapproves. Basically, they’re walking around in constant existential crisis mode.
Finding Happiness and Then Losing It
It’s not often that Banner/Hulk finds himself in a scenario where life is genuinely happy. Try to picture him having brunch with his family, enjoying mimosas and avocado toast. But he does find happiness briefly during PLANET HULK. He falls in love and marries the alien queen Caiera, but she dies in a ship explosion in 2007’s INCREDIBLE HULK #105. In his grief, he returns to Earth enraged, and that’s how WORLD WAR HULK begins. It’s not that Hulk doesn’t want a peaceful, happy life. He just doesn’t really believe he can have it, and he’s afraid of losing it all over again.
Always Being the Outsider
One of Hulk and Banner’s greatest fears is never really belonging anywhere. They try again and again to find their tribe -- by joining the Avengers, falling in love, developing friendships, and fighting alongside allies. But because of the Hulk’s unpredictability, it’s hard for other people to ever completely trust him. No matter how hard he tries, he never really feels like he belongs, and it would definitely be a nightmare for Hulk to find himself coming truly face-to-face with his fear of being a loner forever. As much as he might put on a tough face and try to act like he’s embracing his status as a lone wolf, it seems in many instances like he really does care about other people and be cared about in return.
Life as the Hulk is pretty hard in a lot of ways. It definitely has its advantages, but it has its challenges, too. And that means there’s no shortage of nightmare scenarios to keep him
tossing and turning.
AVENGERS NO ROAD HOME #5, written by Al Ewing, Mark Waid, and Jim Zub with art by Sean Izaakse, is available now online and at your local comic shop!
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