The Incredible Hulk is one of Marvel’s most instantly identifiable heroes. But why does he turn green? Have you ever thought about that?
The real answer may shock you.
It’s one of pop culture’s most iconic transformations; from scientist Bruce Banner to the Incredible Hulk , a Jekyll & Hyde meets Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein story for the atomic age. Banner’s rage-fueled transformation is a simple idea that ended up being profoundly relatable. But why does he have green skin?
The obvious answer is that – generally speaking – in popular media radioactivity is portrayed as having a green glow and Bruce Banner transforms into the Hulk after being caught in what should’ve been a lethal blast of Gamma rays.
The comics themselves have offered other answers, from Amadeus Cho’s theory that the Hulk’s color is a fresh full-body bruise to the current run of The Immortal Hulk, which has suggested gamma radiation connects humans to a supernatural force called the Green Door. All of this is great food for thought, but the real answer is a lot less scientific and a lot more workaday than you might have thought.