Can the Hulk Control Himself in the Comics?

As far as Marvel’s major superhero canon is concerned, the Hulk is one of the most popular and most important characters. The monstrous alter ego of scientist Bruce Banner is also one of the strongest characters in Marvel’s fictional universe. Also known as the Green Goliath, the Hulk is known for being extremely strong, violent, and often uncontrollable, which made Bruce Banner’s Jekyll / Hyde story very intriguing and full of unexpected psychological depth. This is why I have decided to dedicate today’s article to the Hulk and his role in the comic books that made him so popular. 

Throughout the history of comic books, the Hulk has both had and lost control over his powers and his body. The same goes for Bruce Banner’s abilities to control his emotions and the Hulk. In practice, the Hulk and Bruce Banner are two separate entities and they cannot directly control one another, but they can influence each other.

In today’s article, I am going to tell you some relevant information about Bruce Banner’s relationship with the Hulk, as well as the Hulk’s relationship with his own powers. You are going to find out whether they can control themselves and each other, as well as how these answers influenced their development in the comic books. It’s going to be a fun trip so stick with us! Let us begin!

Can Bruce Banner control his anger in the comics?

It is a well-known fact that things are not always as they seem. This sentence was used by the famous author Douglas Adams to describe the circumstances surrounding the event of his famous novel, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

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How does this relate to this article? Well, it is a well-known fact that Bruce Banner, one of Marvel’s most famous superheroes, is not simply a physicist. After being exposed to a high amount of gamma-radiation, Bruce Banner got the unwanted ability to turn into a green monstrosity called the Hulk. The Hulk was initially described as an uncontrollable monster who, whenever he took over Banner’s body, caused a lot of destruction during his anger-filled rampages. 

This situation, with Banner not being able to control the Hulk, was kept as the official canon for more than two decades, before Marvel’s editors decided to change things during the 1980s. 

During that period, Bruce Banner managed to achieve control over the Hulk and his actions, even getting some form of pardon for the Hulk’s earlier rampages. Still, this situation did not last very long, as Banner, not long afterward, lost control over the Hulk once again. Since then, the situation has been changing constantly and there have been different periods of time with different outcomes as to Banner’s ability to control the Green Goliath. 

This means that there is no definitive answer to the question above. Bruce Banner had practiced and mastered some skills to control himself and the Hulk over the year, but none of them have been permanent (at least not in the canon) and the situation has and still is constantly changing.

How does Bruce Banner control the Hulk?

As far as Bruce Banner’s methods are concerned, it is quite difficult to actually depict the whole process, as Banner has never been able to control the Hulk for a long time. Namely, the Hulk and Bruce Banner are actually two separate entities, two separate personalities that use one body. Although this isn’t your classical dissociative identity disorder, as the body of Bruce Banner undergoes a literal transformation when the Hulk takes over, it’s still very similar. 

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In that aspect, both personalities are quite autonomous and when one of them is in charge, the other one cannot really do much except to try and fight for the control of the body, which is, in Banner’s case, usually unsuccessful. This means that Banner cannot really control the Hulk, but the same goes vice versa. Hulk does, on one hand, use Banner’s weaknesses (e.g. his anger) to gain control of the body, but he still doesn’t get control over Banner’s personality. 

The two have some form of influence on each other; they can guide each other while the other’s in control of the body and in that aspect, they can influence some of the decisions, but that is really so insignificant that we cannot describe it as actual control. 

As for Bruce Banner, he has tried a lot of different meditative techniques to get ahold of his anger and to control it. He has also used different psychological approaches and has also, in some stories, restored to science, hoping that some chemical substance or something similar to the experiment that turned him into the Hulk in the first place, could also help him gain control of the Green Goliath. Sadly, most of that either wasn’t successful or was just temporary. 

Credit Marvel Comics

Does the Hulk ever control his own powers?

In order to answer this question, we have to state that there is a big difference between the classical 1960s Hulka and the modern iteration of the same character, the latter having much more depth and complexity to it. 

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Historically, the Hulk was an uncontrollable monster that had a very strong desire for destruction. Sure, he was a hero and he would save the day, but he would also cause large-scale destruction and he was not really beloved among the people. 

On the other hand, as the character evolved along with the comic books, the whole concept received much more depth and the Hulk, while remaining a monster, actually became a deeper character, a character with a mind and a character that was able to think about his actions. This is, partially, the result of Bruce Banner gaining more insight into the Hulk persona and thus becoming able to understand him better, to talk to him and to influence his actions up to a point (see above). 

As with the majority of this article, there is no definitive answer as the comic book narratives changed a lot over the years and they still keep changing.