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Every Actor Who’s Played Marvel’s Hulk In Live-Action

March 22, 202411 Mins Read


  • Various actors have played the iconic Hulk in live-action adaptations.
  • Hulk’s film rights are split between Disney and Universal Pictures, making the chances of another solo project currently slim despite teases in the MCU.
  • Mark Ruffalo holds the record for playing Hulk the longest in live-action films, bringing charisma and energy to Banner’s character.

The Hulk has been a staple of Marvel Comics, movies, and TV shows for decades, with several actors assuming the role of Bruce Banner, a.k.a. the Hulk in live-action over the years. In most instances, scientist Bruce Banner gained his Hulk alter-ego after being exposed to lethal levels of gamma radiation, leading to a transformation from human to monster. The Hulk’s fury is often viewed as an ally to other heroes, but the Hulk’s short temper also regularly leads to him becoming a much darker and destructive force, though this side of the Hulk has rarely been seen in live-action adaptations.

Bruce Banner has been a mainstay in Marvel Studios’ MCU timeline since 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, with the franchise giving the character more development than any other live-action adaptation. However, due to legal issues concerning the movie rights to Marvel Comics’ Hulk, which are currently split between Disney and Universal Pictures, it seems unlikely that another solo project featuring the Hulk will be produced, despite teases of the MCU’s potential World War Hulk event. To date, five actors have played Bruce Banner, a.k.a. the Hulk in live-action.


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Bill Bixby (The Incredible Hulk TV Series & TV Movies)


A blended image of Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk 1978 series.

Premiering in 1977, The Incredible Hulk gave audiences their first introduction to a live-action Hulk, running on CBS for five seasons until it ended in 1982. The series spawned several follow-up TV movies that incorporated other Marvel characters, such as Thor and Daredevil. Two different actors played Dr. Banner — named David Banner instead of Bruce in this version — and the Hulk, with Banner’s human persona being portrayed by the late Bill Bixby, who previously gained fame on shows including My Favorite Martian and The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.

Out of every Hulk actor who has played the mild-mannered scientist, Bixby imbued David Banner with both an affable likability and a solemn sadness, which helped convey his compassion for others and heroic qualities while also getting across the unwilling nature of his powers. Sadly, Bixby’s Hulk suffered a tragic final fate in the appropriately titled Death of the Incredible Hulk. Curiously, after four decades since The Incredible Hulk TV series, the character’s recent appearances in Marvel Studios’ She-Hulk: Attorney at Law suggest the MCU could potentially explore the death of the Smart Hulk/Professor Hulk personality.

Every Bill Bixby Hulk Appearance

The Incredible Hulk Season 1-5

The Incredible Hulk Returns

The Trial Of The Incredible Hulk

The Death Of The Incredible Hulk

Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk TV Series & TV Movies)


Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk in a promo image from the 1978 Hulk series.

In the Incredible Hulk TV series and its follow-up TV movies, Lou Ferrigno portrayed the Hulk alter-ego of Bixby’s Banner. Switching actors was about the only way to accomplish the character’s transformation realistically on a 1970s budget, as the period lacked the advances in CGI effects that modern adaptations have had.

Ferrigno proved just as perfect a choice for the Hulk as Bixby was for Banner, as he’d been a championship-winning professional bodybuilder prior to getting into acting. Notably, Ferrigno later voiced the character in Eric Bana’s movie and for the Hulk’s appearances in the MCU through 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Every Lou Ferrigno Hulk Appearance

The Incredible Hulk Season 1-5

The Incredible Hulk Returns

The Trial Of The Incredible Hulk

The Death Of The Incredible Hulk

The Avengers

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Eric Bana (Hulk)


Eric Bana as Bruce Banner in Hulk Movie looking into the camera

Directed by Ang Lee, 2003’s Hulk saw Bruce Banner played by Eric Bana, with the Hulk being a fully CGI character. Hulk provided strong foundations for Bruce Banner’s live-action cinematic origin but has since been overshadowed by the Hulk’s appearances within the MCU.

Australian actor Bana makes Banner’s plight easy to sympathize with. If anything, the issues many have with 2003’s Hulk are focused on the script, as a common complaint is that Hulk is too much of an introspective drama and doesn’t feature nearly enough Hulk action. Even so, Bana’s performance is still held in high regard, introducing a live-action Hulk to the big screen for the first time.

Every Eric Bana Hulk Appearance


Hulk 2003 Poster


Ang Lee

Release Date
June 19, 2003

James Schamus , John Turman , Michael France

Edward Norton (The Incredible Hulk)


Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, looking surprised in The Incredible Hulk

2008’s The Incredible Hulk introduced Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, a.k.a. the Hulk. Norton’s previous work has been widely acclaimed, and his delivery of Bruce Banner has often been viewed as one of the best in comparison to the other Hulk actors.

During production for The Incredible Hulk, however, Norton was reported to have engaged in multiple disputes with Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige and various producers over the final cut of the film, although these claims have been disputed. This ultimately led to Bruce Banner being recast following The Incredible Hulk, Bruce Banner’s only solo project in the MCU to date.

Every Edward Norton Hulk Appearance

The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk

The second film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is The Incredible Hulk, which was released in 2008. The film introduced a new backstory for the Hulk to differentiate it from the 2003 movie, Hulk. Actor Edward Norton played the role of the green hulk, and his alter ego Bruce Banner. He is joined by actress Liv Tyler who plays his love interest, Dr. Elizabeth “Betty” Ross. Betty’s father, General Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt), is hoping to recreate a World War II supersoldier program and, in the process, exposes Bruce to gamma radiation that transforms him into the Hulk. He flees to find a cure for himself but is eventually tracked down by Thunderbolt, who forms an alliance with Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth). After The Incredible Hulk, Mark Ruffalo took over the character for subsequent movies in the MCU.

Louis Leterrier

Release Date
June 13, 2008

Mark Ruffalo (Various MCU Projects)


Mark Ruffalo replaced Norton as Bruce Banner beginning in 2012’s The Avengers and has gone on to appear in crossover sequels Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. He also played a vital role in Thor: Ragnarok, which adapted elements of Marvel Comics’ Planet Hulk storyline. Ruffalo’s Banner also made post-credits cameos in Iron Man 3, Captain Marvel, and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and was featured during Phase 4’s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, marking the longest career for any Hulk actor in live-action films by far.

Doubts have been shed on whether Ruffalo will portray the MCU’s Hulk in a future solo movie, as the character’s distribution rights still lie with Universal Pictures. Even so, Marvel Studios has recently been teasing the development of a project adapted from Marvel Comics’ World War Hulk event, which could see Ruffalo wreak havoc as the raging Hulk that has been glimpsed in previous MCU projects. Ruffalo has brought the most charisma and energy to the role of Bruce Banner, and continues to have a fruitful career as the MCU’s Hulk.

Every Mark Ruffalo Hulk Appearance

The Avengers

Iron Man 3

Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Thor: Ragnarok

Avengers: Infinity War

Captain Marvel

Avengers: Endgame

Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings

She-Hulk: Attorney At Law

The Avengers 2012 Poster

The Avengers

The sixth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Avengers is an action superhero film that sees the heroes assembled across the franchise face off with a deadly galactic threat. With the arrival of Thor’s brother, Loki, heroes such as Captain America, The Hulk, Iron Man, and Black Widow are brought together to stop him from unleashing an alien race upon earth.

Tatiana Maslany (She-Hulk: Attorney At Law)


She-Hulk appears in the She-Hulk trailer looking offscreen

In addition to every actor who’s assumed the role of Bruce Banner, Marvel Studios’ She-Hulk: Attorney at Law on Disney+ introduced a new live-action Hulk character in the form of Jennifer Walters, a.k.a. She-Hulk, played by Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany. Walters is Banner’s cousin, who gains similar Hulk abilities after being exposed to her cousin’s blood, though she has far more control over her powers.

Walters can transform between her regular and She-Hulk selves at will, all while retaining her intelligence, which is especially useful as she’s also a successful lawyer. Maslany’s She-Hulk is a solid addition to the MCU, and is set to be featured in future stories.

Every Tatiana Maslany She-Hulk Appearance

She-Hulk: Attorney At Law

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

Tatiana Maslany stars as Jennifer Walters, AKA She-Hulk in Marvel’s Disney+ TV series She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. She-Hulk is a half-hour comedy series that follows the story of Jennifer Walters, Bruce Banner/Hulk’s cousin. Jennifer is an attorney who must juggle her life alongside being a 6-foot-7-inch hulk. Unlike her cousin, Jennifer is capable of managing her transformation at will. With these newfound powers, Jennifer will head-up a new superhero division at an opposing law firm while trying to learn what it means to be a hero. Additional casting includes Mark Ruffalo, reprising his role as Bruce Banner/ The Hulk, with Tim Roth joining the cast as Emil Blonsky/Abomination, the villain who originally appeared in The Incredible Hulk film. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is a part of the MCU’s Phase 4 and originally aired in August 2022.

Ginger Gonzaga , Jon Bass , Josh Segarra , Tatiana Maslany , Tim Roth , Renee Elise Goldsberry , Anais Almonte , Mark Ruffalo , Benedict Wong , Jameela Jamil

Release Date
August 17, 2022

Streaming Service(s)

Why Did Mark Ruffalo Replace Edward Norton As Bruce Banner And Hulk?

Mark Ruffalo as Professor Hulk in Endgame with his arms spread out

Norton’s performance is his usual quality of work, and it certainly would’ve been interesting to see him perform alongside Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and the rest of Marvel Studios’ heroes in The Avengers. However, that wasn’t to be, as Norton was replaced by Ruffalo, reportedly due to claims that the former was hard to work with. Ruffalo has come to be seen as the definitive big screen Banner and Hulk, though he made several changes that made the character less intense and more socially awkward, but perhaps more likable.

abomination in shang-chi opening his mouth

Bruce Banner and Jennifer Walters aren’t the only Hulks that have been featured in the MCU, as several other Hulk-related characters have made their way to the franchise over the years. In 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, Tim Roth portrayed Emil Blonsky, a soldier who became the Abomination after combining a version of the super-soldier serum with Banner’s own blood.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law also debuted Banner’s son, Skaar, portrayed by Wil Deusner, and the series also saw Jon Bass’ Todd Phelps briefly become HulkKing. Tim Blake Nelson’s Samuel Sterns has also had his own Hulk transformation, as he will return as the Leader in Captain America: New World Order.

Harrison Ford (MCU’s Red Hulk?)

Blended image of Harrison Ford as Deckard looking neutral in Blade Runner 2049 and a comic book Red Hulk looking angry

Marvel Studios hasn’t yet confirmed whether Harrison Ford will actually be portraying the first live-action version of Marvel Comics’ Red Hulk, but the actor’s casting in Captain America: New World Order and Thunderbolts could tease the Red Hulk’s MCU debut. Ford has been cast as General Thaddeus Ross in a recasting following the 2022 passing of William Hurt, who previously portrayed Ross in The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Black Widow. In Marvel Comics, General Ross eventually becomes the Red Hulk in an effort to better battle his nemesis, the Hulk.

Nothing’s been set in stone, but it’s unlikely Marvel would cast Harrison Ford as Thunderbolt Ross if he’s a minor MCU character, and using such an iconic star to finally adapt Ross’ Red Hulk storyline would justify what must be a massive paycheck for the Indiana Jones and Star Wars actor. This is further supported by Captain America: New World Order and Thunderbolts‘ timeline, as Ross led his own version of the Thunderbolts as Red Hulk in Marvel Comics. If this is the case, Ford would certainly serve as a great addition to the MCU’s growing roster of Hulk characters.

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