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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Bruce Banner
The Hulk

Robert Bruce Banner, usually known simply as Dr. Bruce Banner, is the alter-ego of the Hulk, a popular Marvel Comics character. (In the live action TV series, the character's name was "David Bruce Banner", and he went by his first name, "David.")

This page presents some of the overt, concrete evidence that establishes that Bruce Banner in Marvel's Ultimate line and Dr. Banner on the TV series were Catholic. The Ultimate characters have always had the same religious affiliation as mainstream characters, which strongly suggests that mainstream "Hulk" is Catholic as well.

For many readers, any lingering questions about whether "mainstream" Dr. Banner is also Catholic might disappear when they recollect that Dr. Banner married a Catholic nun (or at least a novitiate). From the time the "Hulk" was introduced, the love of Dr. Banner's life was Betty Ross. At a time when she thought he was dead, she joined a convent and began training to become a nun. Later she learned that Dr. Banner was alive and she left the full-time religious life. Possibly Betty Ross did not complete her training and initiation to the point that she was a full-fledged nun, but the point is, if Betty was sufficiently Catholic to become (or almost become) a nun, she was probably Catholic enough to want to marry a fellow Catholic.

Furthermore, the wedding ceremony in which Bruce Banner married Betty Ross was conducted by a Catholic priest and took place in a Catholic church - something that would not have been allowed if both participants were not Catholic. The Catholic church will perform Catholic wedding ceremonies inside Catholic churches only when both bride and groom are Catholic. This doesn't mean that Bruce Banner was an active churchgoer, but he was at least nominally a baptized Catholic.

The religious faith of Dr. Bruce Banner (the Hulk).

The Hulk (Dr. Bruce Banner) holding rosary beads and a crucifix
The Hulk's rosary beads and crucifix. Iron Man checks on Dr. Bruce Banner's unconscious body. Note that Dr. Banner's Catholic rosary beads and crucifix have been placed in his hand. This is just minutes before Dr. Bruce Banner is scheduled to be executed by the federal government because the Hulk killed 852 people in New York City during a rampage. [Source: The Ultimates 2 #3, Marvel Entertainment Group: New York (2005); reprinted in The Ultimates 2 Volume 1: Gods and Monsters (2005); written by Mark Millar, pencilled by Bryan Hitch; inked by Paul Neary; page 17.]
Dr. Banner explicitly identified himself as a lapsed Catholic in an episode of The Incredible Hulk live-action television show. In the Ultimate Marvel universe, Dr. Banner was explicitly portrayed as a Catholic who believes in an afterlife for the human soul (The Ultimates 2 #3). As far as we know, Dr. Banner has not been explicitly identified as a Catholic within the mainstream Marvel universe comics. But there are strong indications even within mainstream continuity that Dr. Banner's religious background is Catholic, although he is apparently lapsed and is typically portrayed as an essentially "non-religious" scientist.

The Hulk, as seen in mainstream Marvel continuity, may very well have had a Catholic religious upbringing (at least nominally), but given the complete lack of overt religious references, the character is best classified as "non-religious" as an adult. Within the Ultimate universe, the Dr. Banner's Catholic religious affiliation was not revealed until the funeral held after his supposed execution. In his self-written eulogy, Dr. Banner expressed his belief in an afterlife, but he observed that his religious beliefs are "very private."

The Hulk is an unusual "superhero" character, in that during most of the character's history, Bruce Banner has had little control over his monstrous alter ego. During those relatively rare periods when Bruce Banner's full intellect and personality has been manifest within the Hulk, the character has acted more like a traditional superhero. But usually, the Hulk's behavior is less predictable and less typical of "super-heroes." The monstrous Hulk has done much good and defeated many villains, but has also caused much death and destruction.

Neither regular Bruce Banner nor any of his manifestations as "the Incredible Hulk" have been overtly religious. Bruce Banner appears to have an essentially "WASP" family background, but no specific denominational affiliation is known, and the character is not known to have been an active churchgoer during his adulthood.

The Hulk's religious affiliation was mentioned in Newsweek. (Steven Waldman and Michael Kress, "BeliefWatch: Good Fight", published in Newseek, cover-dated 19 June 2006, page 12):

Newseek article about religions of superheroes

The Hulk has primarily been based in New Mexico during much of his history. The Hulk has some spent some time in predominantly Latter-day Saint parts of the country. Particularly in Marvel's new Ultimate imprint of comics (an alternative universe with characters based on the original mainstream Marvel characters), the Ultimate Hulk is consistently identified as having come from Utah. But this may be simply because that is where S.H.I.E.L.D. apprehended him and where news stories caught up with him. See, for example, Ultimate Spider-Man #7 and Ultimate Six #1. Despite being thought of as having come from Utah, there is little indication that people in the Ultimate Marvel universe regard the Hulk as a Mormon (which he is not).

The Hulk says everybody is praying The Hulk was explicitly shown to be among the more "non-religious" super-heroes in the Marvel Universe in Infinity Crusade #1. In that issue, the most religious Marvel super-heroes (including Spider-Man, Daredevil, Invisible Woman, Storm, Thor, Jean Grey, Doctor Strange, Hercules, the Silver Surfer and dozens more, were abducted by a powerful being known as the Goddess. The Hulk was not among those abducted. After realizing the common trait among those who had been abducted (their religious nature or an intense religious experience), the Hulk did, however, make an interesting seemingly religious statement when he said that "everyone's praying old 'Purple Puss' [i.e., the villain Thanos] isn't involved this go-around."

The Private Faith of the Ultimate Hulk

In Marvel's Ultimate line, the first battle fought by the newly formed government-sponsored super-team known as the "Ultimates" (the Ultimate version of the Avengers) was against the Hulk himself. In an attempt to impress his estranged wife Betty Ross, Dr. Bruce Banner injected himself with the experimental super soldier serum he had been developing for Nick Fury's government program. Banner transformed into the Hulk and went on a rampage in New York City, killing 852 people.

The government suppressed the fact that they knew the identity of the Hulk. But when the Hulk's identity was leaked to the press, the public outcry forced Nick Fury to turn over Dr. Banner for trial. The trial was largely seen as a formality by the government, which had already decided that it must execute Dr. Banner.

After the trial, Nick Fury drugged the captive Dr. Banner and transported his unconscious body to an aircraft carrier in the ocean. Iron Man placed Dr. Banner's Catholic rosary beads and crucifix in his hand. With the Ultimates as witnesses, a one-megaton bomb was detonated next to Dr. Banner in order to carry out his execution.

This scene segued into a scene showing Dr. Bruce Banner's funeral. The funeral was held at a Catholic church. Dr. Banner's former teammate Captain America read the a message (or eulogy) that had been by Dr. Banner himself. In his departing words, Dr. Banner revealed details about his own "very private faith" that he had not previously shared with his co-workers. This is not surprising, as it had been established that Dr. Banner was a very shy, socially awkward individual. Just prior to his execution, he was even afraid to tell Betty Ross, the love of his life, that he loved because, as he said, he was "too embarrassed in front of all these people."

In Dr. Banner's departing words, he expressed a clear, strong belief in an afterlife for the human soul. Dr. Banner's funeral message contains nothing that appears to be exclusively Catholic, but it was according to his own instructions that the funeral was held in a Catholic church.

From: The Ultimates 2 #3, Marvel Entertainment Group: New York (2005); reprinted in The Ultimates 2 Volume 1: Gods and Monsters (2005); written by Mark Millar, pencilled by Bryan Hitch; inked by Paul Neary; pages 17-20:

Dr. Bruce Banner (The Hulk): [words written by Dr. Banner, read by Captain America at Dr. Banner's funeral after his execution] My dear friends. I know that serious scientists aren't supposed to believe in the concept of an afterlife. There's no proof, after all. No empirical data to suggest there's anything beyond the here-and-now and yet here I am talking to you all from beyond the grave itself. What does that suggest? What does that tell you?

To me, it's a perfect illustration that the world is a far more complex place than even the brightest among us would dare to imagine.

My own, very private faith dates back to my seventh summer and our annual vacation with my cousins on Chesapeake Bay. My uncle was a wildlife photographer and patiently nurtured my earliest interests in both plants and animals. I remember a little caterpillar we'd grown fond of during that long, hot July. A tiny Geometridae we played iwth and stroked and made up some childlike name for. How heartbroken we were when he seemed to have died. When he curled up tight in a silken cocoon and didn't make a move for days. I cried and cried and cried, but my uncle explained that nothing truly dies. Change was merely taking place as ice becomes water and water becomes gas and he was right, you know.

In a matter of days, a butterfly hatched from that hard, little chrysalis and took off in search of something far more interesting than Bruce Banner and his high-pitched cousins.

So don't weep for me now, my friends, because science insists that I have not died. Energy just always changes state and I refuse to believe that human consciousness is the sole exception to this universal law.

Remember me fondly as I'll remember you. In all my years, I have never had friends so dear. In all my years, I have never had a group of people whom I truly felt such an integral part of. For this and everything else you have given me these last eighteen months you have Bruce Banner's eternal and everlasting gratitude.
The religious faith of Dr. Bruce Banner (the Hulk)
The religious faith of Dr. Bruce Banner (the Hulk)

Despite the carefully carried out execution, Dr. Banner somehow survived the explosion. Just before the bomb went off, Dr. Banner's eyes opened, clearly green as if his transformation into the Hulk was beginning. Immediately after the funeral, Dr. Banner left a message on Dr. Henry Pym's answering machine, revealing that he was still alive. Dr. Banner was then seen picking up a backpack and blending into the crowd on a busy city street.

From: Alex Johnson, "At the comics shop, religion goes graphic: Judeo-Christian themes woven into comic books you might not expect", published on MSNBC.com, 25 April 2006 (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12376831/; viewed 2 May 2006); re-posted by Worldwide Religious News (http://wwrn.org/article.php?idd=21302; viewed 2 May 2006):

You can track who's what by diving into a database at ComicBookReligion.com, a project of the exhaustive religion reference site Adherents.com. The database links to closely argued, heavily referenced essays that, for the most part, build compelling cases for its identification of a particular character's church ways.

...if you're a big-time superhero, you get the full treatment. The Hulk's lapsed Catholicism is established in an original essay running more than 3,500 words, with footnotes to scholarly papers on psychiatry and philosophy, supported by copious panels reprinted from the comic book series.

From: Julia Baird, "A Sunday sermon from Superman", published 22 June 2006 in The Sydney Morning Herald (http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/a-sunday-sermon-from-superman/2006/06/21/1150845241006.html; viewed 21 June 2006):
...Superman is not the only superhero thought to be religious... Batman is said to be a lapsed Anglican or Catholic..., as is the Hulk...

With all the destruction he has caused, why doesn't Bruce Banner kill himself?

Bruce Banner's overriding passion at times appears to be science. But even Banner's love for science is often subsumed by his complex anger and peculiar psyche that gives rise to his monstrous alter ego. Banner also appears to be a classic narcissist, as he usually appears to be more concerned with his own problems and his "cursed" life, often with seeming disregard for the lives he has destroyed (including the people closest to him) and the many people, including soldiers and innocent bystanders, he has doubtless killed while transformed into the Hulk.

As Banner has clearly been unable to maintain permanent control of his monstrous "Hulk" persona, why hasn't Bruce Banner killed himself in order to avoid causing further harm? Is it for religious reaons? Is it because he is utterly lacking in a sense of self-sacrifice and religious sentiment? Or is it for some other reason?

Given Banner's plight, self-destruction would seem like a natural avenue to explore. Yet both Banner and the Hulk usually take the opposite tact - self-preservation at all cost.

In Marvel's "Ultimate" line of comics which re-imagine classic Marvel characters, the Bruce Banner/Hulk character is modelled closely after the original Marvel universe version of the character, except the results of Banner's transformation into the Hulk have been rendered more realistically, and have been shown to have more dire consequences. In a single rampage in New York City, the Hulk killed 852 people. Even in mainstream Marvel continuity, it is unreasonable to believe that in all of the Hulk's hundreds of rampages and battles, not one innocent bystander or U.S. soldier (who was just doing his job) has ever been killed.

A key story point at times has been that Banner really believes the Hulk has never killed an innocent person - even inadvertently, but this belief defies logic. Even if this were truly the case, Banner's willingness to dismiss the staggering levels of property damage, business and jobs lost, and severe injuries inflicted - all while focusing only on the supposed lack of actual deaths - is a disturbing example of compartmentalization, denial, rationalization and self-justification.

Banner does feel guilt over the Hulk's actions. But how much guilt? How are we to regard his denial of the Hulk's actions as being his responsibility, when the Hulk is simply a manifestation of Banner's own unusually violent, angry, anti-social repressed impulses?

Banner's relative lack of guilt over such matters has led some to speculate that he is not a Catholic, and probably has little identification with any traditional religious tradition. (In literature, Catholicism is often associated with feelings of "guilt.") Compare, for example, the Hulk to Spider-Man, who anguishes about not having prevented the deaths of his Uncle Ben and Gwen Stacy, and Batman, whose guilt over his parents murder at the hands of a mugger has driven him to extreme measures. The Hulk, on the other hand, is directly responsible for far more death and destruction, yet fails to make what many would regard as the heroic choice, which is to terminate himself while in Bruce Banner form. The acclaimed limited series Startling Stories: Banner, written by Brian Azzarello and set outside mainstream Marvel continuity addresses this question with unusual clarity and forthrightness.

Banner's drive to preserve his own life rather than destroy himself, despite knowing that he poses a danger to society, may actually be a manifestation of his Catholic upbringing. Catholicism has strong teachings against committing suicide, and if Banner had any sort of Catholic upbringing or education at all he would certainly have heard about Catholic doctrines regarding suicide. Certainly there are nuances and depths to Catholic teachings on this subject, but popular and lay perceptions would include an awareness of the seriousness with which suicide is regarded as a sinful act and a rejection of God's gift of life, an act which can lead to the damnation of a soul.

So, it is possible that Banner's failure to kill himself might be a result of a narcissism and pure secular materialism. Or his choice might stem from deeply held Catholic beliefs and fears regarding suicide. Thus, this aspect of the character can not really be used to identify his religious affiliation or beliefs. A truly utilitarian secular humanist, for example, would almost certainly feel compelled to commit suicide if he posed such a danger to society, and many religions and denominations do not have the strict teachings against suicide found in Catholicism.

Statistically speaking, suicide is far more prevalent among non-religious and atheistic people than among religious people and people who believe in God. [See, for example, Religious Affiliation, Atheism and Suicide; Kanita Dervic, Maria A. Oquendo, Michael F. Grunebaum, Steve Ellis, Ainsley K. Burke, and J. John Mann. "Religious Affiliation and Suicide Attempt" in The American Journal of Psychiatry (161:2303-2308, December 2004); Phil Zuckerman, "Atheism: Contemporary Rates and Patterns" in The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, ed. by Michael Martin, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK (2005)] But although some might argue that this fact supports the notion that the consistently non-suicidal Dr. Banner is not an atheist, it should be remembered that suicide does occur in religious people as well (simply at lower rates), and these sociological findings can not be used to make a determination about a single individual.

One explanation for why Banner does not destroy himself looks to all the positive things the Hulk has accomplished. As John McDonagh observed: "While the Hulk does cause damage, he for the most part does not rampage across planets or dimensions. However, he has opposed creatures who are much larger threats than he himself is, threats to solar systems and so forth. Therefore, he must continue to exist to stop Thanos, the Galaxy Master, etc."

It is undeniable that the Hulk has vanquished enemies more dangerous than himself. Even after the Hulk in the Ultimate line killed 852 people in New York City, the federal government kept the Hulk alive but captive, believing that Banner could still accomplish much good if properly controlled. The Ultimate Hulk almost single-handedly repelled an alien invasion that could have devestated the entire world. Ultimates chief Nick Fury explained to a captive Banner why the judge threw out the mass-murder case against Banner. From: The Ultimates 2 #3, Marvel Entertainment Group: New York (2005); reprinted in The Ultimates 2 Volume 1: Gods and Monsters (2005); written by Mark Millar, pencilled by Bryan Hitch; inked by Paul Neary; page 13:

Bruce Banner (The Hulk): Oh my God! This is huge. This is unbelievable. How did they end up throwing this out of court? I thought this case was a foregone conclusion!

Nick Fury: Well, it was until your buddies on the team marched into court and pointed out how The Hulk almost single-handedly saved the world from an alien invasion, son. If it wsan't for you, we'd be pushin' up the daisies right now and executing the boy who saved our necsk back there might be a tad ungrateful, don't you think?

Bruce Banner (The Hulk): Oh, man. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I don't even drink. This is crazy. I can't believe the guys came through for me like this . . .

Nick Fury: Believe it, man. Now let's raise a toast to getting you out of this stupid cell altogether, huh? You and me know you got that Hulk problem under control again, but I figure it's time to show the rest of the world that. What d'you say, boy?

Bruce Banner (The Hulk): I'll drink to that.

[Bruce Banner takes a celebratory sip of the expensive-looking Dom Perignon that Fury bought to him. Unfortunately, everything that Fury said was a ruse on his part. This was a trick Fury used to get Banner to take a sip of drugged drink, which knocked Banner out. Fury then transported Banner to a remote location in order to execute him using a one-megaton bomb.]

From a practical standpoint, an obvious explanation for why Banner continues to let the Hulk live is that if he killed himself, it would mean an end to a profitable franchise for Marvel. But this isn't a consideration for the character. We are thus left to interpret an unusual resulting dichotomy, in which the monstrous and frequently fatal Hulk may actually be regarded as "more heroic" than the seeminly human Banner. The Hulk, despite his nature, often does some good. But Banner, despite his much-vaunted scientist's intellect and "logical" outlook, fails to make what many people would consider the only logical, moral choice. Banner's desire for self-preservation whatever the cost and his intense fear of death could be seen as characteristics which make him a frightening villain rather than a hero.

Will to Power: The Hulk as Nietzsche's overman

From: Tate, "Bubblegum Tate's 'Two-Fisted Philosophy': the Thrilling Conclusion!", posted 18 November 2005 on "(http://infinitemonkeycrisis.blogspot.com/2005/11/bubblegum-tates-two-fisted-philosophy.html; viewed 10 January 2006):
In almost every way, the supermen presented in glorious four color and newsprint are exemplars of Nietzsche's philosophy in pop culture. Let's look at a few examples of how they're the best examples and then I'll share with you the two I consider to be the BEST of the BEST examples.

1. Rise above the Herd and live glorious lives . . .

2. . . . That ultimately end in Tragedy...

3. Become the next step in human evolution.

4. ...[doesn't belong] to any organized religion... in true Nietzsche fashion, the heroes are arrayed against the gods as often as they are the agents of the gods. In a world devoid of religion, a standard for ethics and morality can only come from within...

Unfortunately, this is also where the parallels fall apart a little. Nietzsche would be horrified how often the ubermensch of comics are tending the needs of the Herd and protecting the status quo...

Up until I sat down to write this post, I believed that Batman exemplified Nietzsche's ideal... Batman has so separated himself from humanity that he barely bothers to maintain the so-called secret identity. Bruce Wayne is merely another tool he uses in service of higher ideals... Batman even holds himself aloof from the other ubermensch, believing himself to be superior to them because he does what they do without the benefit of special powers even as he's separated from the Herd by the fact that he can keep up with the other super heroes. All these things are true, but I kept coming back to the major failing of all the super heroes from Nietzsche's standpoint. Batman has morals and CARES for the Herd instead of disdaining them.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is a fundamental flaw. Batman couldn't be the truest ubermensch. Then it hit me like a gamma bomb in the desert. Batman isn't the ubermensch, but the Hulk IS.

The Incredible Hulk is a superman that is set in stark contrast to the Herd mentality of Bruce Banner. It was Banner's scientific genius that created the gamma bomb that would give birth to the Hulk. It was Banner's own force of will that allowed him to survive the gamma bomb by becoming (a key Dionysian concept) the Hulk. Since that moment, though, Banner has hated and feared the superior being he created. And he has, in true Herd fashion, tried to destroy it at every turn.

The Hulk is raw power and passion in a rampaging form. In true Dionysian fashion, he knows nothing but his own desires from moment to moment. He has literally frozen time for himself through sheer force of Will. Nothing can stop him because of the strength of his Will. After all, the madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets. The Hulk knows no morality beyond his own needs; whether Hulk wants Betty, the world to "leave Hulk alone," or the sheer joy he takes in wanton destruction, he makes his desire into reality. He is the next step in human evolution and hates the man he once was even more than Banner hates the Hulk. The Incredible Hulk exemplifies Nietzsche's overman.

Other References

From: David Wade, "Culture Watch: Holy Warrior Nuns, Batman! Comic books take on the world of faith and spirituality", published in Sojourner Magazine, July 2004 (http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj0407&article=040738; viewed 6 June 2006):
...Jim Krueger, an author of Marvel Comics' Earth X series (which explores issues of divinity, eternal life, sin, and retribution using the X-Men, the Hulk, Spiderman, and many other of Marvel's main characters).

From: Lynn Arave, "Superhero/ Super savior? Religious imagery plentiful; local leaders worry about Superman's morals", published 8 July 2006 in Deseret Morning News (http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,640192870,00.html; viewed 15 May 2007):

The June 19, 2006, issue of Newsweek contained a list of the "suspected" religions of superheroes... Newsweek also listed Spider-Man as a Protestant, The Thing as Jewish, The Hulk as a lapsed Catholic, Daredevil as a Catholic, Batman as a lapsed Catholic or disaffected Episcopalian and Captain America as a Protestant...

The Newsweek article is online at www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13249146/site/newsweek/.

From: Thomas Tracy, "Spidey's webs have Jewish roots", published 21 May 2007 in Fort Greene/Clinton Hill Courier (http://www.courierlife.net/site/tab10.cfm?newsid=18369761&BRD=2384&PAG=461&dept_id=552856&rfi=6; viewed 21 May 2007):

...Rabbi Simcha Weinstein, author of "Up, Up, And Oy Vey! How Jewish History, Culture and Values Shaped the Comic Book Superhero." ...Weinstein, founder of the Jewish Student Foundation of Downtown Brooklyn and currently a rabbi for both Pratt Institute and Long Island College Hospital...

But Spider-Man is not the only comic book character to be infused with Jewish values.

Superman, Captain America, the Spirit, Batman and the Incredible Hulk (who Weinstein calls a gamma-radiated golem) all have Jewish themes woven into their masks, capes and cowls and - in the Hulk's case - loincloths.

"Up, Up and Oy Vey" is not meant to lay claim to America's favorite heroes as Jewish, but instead wishes to celebrate an open dialogue, Weinstein said.

"Superheroes are a mixture of religious beliefs and pop culture," said Weinstein. "They're a great way to break down boundaries."

From: Leah Finkelshteyn, "Thwak! To Our Enemies", published in Hadassah Magazine, June/July 2003 Vol. 84 No. 10 (http://www.hadassah.org/news/content/per_hadassah/archive/2003/03_JUN/art.htm; viewed 19 June 2007):

Today, there may be fewer Jewish comics creators than in the past, but they are still making their mark in what has become an American institution struggling for legitimacy. The hot list - talents whose names on the cover are likely to ensure a title's popularity - includes writer Peter Allan David (Supergirl, DC, and The Incredible Hulk, among others)...

"My Jewishness has insinuated itself into my writing," admits David, a 20-year comics veteran. In the 1990's, he reworked the Supergirl character. She became an angel whose abilities come from the Shekhina, the Hebrew term for the feminine aspect of God's presence...

...And despite historical evidence, it is this image that is the most unlikely of Jewish creations. Perhaps the problem is the physical violence that is so much a part of comics; after all, Jews are considered cerebral problem-solvers. More likely the dissonance comes from characters like Batman celebrating Christmas but not a bar mitzva. The green-hued Hulk may have visited Israel and battled Sabra while he was there, but it wasn't exactly a Jewish outreach experience. So the question remains: Are comic books - and the characters who inhabit them - truly Jewish?

"There is definitely a Jewish rhythm that seeped in surreptitiously," says artist Archie Rand (see "Old Story, New Telling" below). Rand, who consulted on the Hulk movie in theaters this month, feels comics have a "general courting of vulgarity, seen in the bright, loud costumes, that is very ethnic...."

A story set in the early days of the Avengers has some interesting religious implications for the Hulk. After Bruce Banner, as the Hulk, almost murdered an innocent pregnant woman, he arrested. Banner is relieved to learn that despite being found covered in what appeared to be blood, test results showed that it was actually amniotic fluid. The Hulk had helped to deliver the baby, but Banner realizes he could have murdered the woman instead.

A police detective releases him saying, "I'll be damned. You're free to go." Banner thinks to himself, "He's wrong. I'll never be free. And I'm the one who's damned. It's just a matter of time until the Hulk does decide to kill someone and when that day comes, not even the power of the Avengers can stop him." [Source: Avengers Classic #2 (September 2007).


From: "What religion do superhero's belong to? [sic]" forum discussion started 18 July 2002 on "Toon Zone" website (http://forums.toonzone.net/showthread.php?t=41332; viewed 21 May 2007):

07-18-2002, 01:02 PM

What religion do superhero's [sic] belong to?

I'd like to discuss what religious beliefs are favorite costumed hero's belong to. Everyone knows Daredevil is Catholic. But beyond that, what do we know of superhero's beliefs? I'm thinking of mostly the Marvel Universe, but you DC fans feel free to contribute as well.

You could argue that since we don't see most superheroes in church (or other place of worship) in their own comic books, that most don't believe in a faith. Of course, if you want to point out a superhero that you believe is an atheist, feel free to contribute that as well.

...I think Bruce Banner, the Hulk, comes the closest to being an atheist. It would help to explain why he has such a sorry outlook on life, and explain why he devoted himself to science at such an early age...

07-18-2002, 01:30 PM

This is a discussion I've had several times with my friends, and usually I step out of it when it turns offensive. (Which with my friends, it always does!) Thing to remember though that until recently, like the past decade, religion and talks of such were verboten in most main stream comic books. Now that's changed...

Let's see...

...Bruce Banner is actually a Christian. That's one of the defining points that Peter David brought him. The contradictory nature of science versus soul that Banner goes by. I remember it being an interesting story...

07-18-2002, 01:53 PM

Oh, I forgot about Iron Man... Yeah, I'd say even more so than the Incredible Hulk, he's Marvel's number one atheist. If Bruce Banner truly is a Christian, he's definently a fallen one... meaning I think he's rejected just about everything that Christianity (or any religion for that matter) has to offer the human soul. I'd like to see that Peter David storyline that you refer to, though...

07-18-2002, 02:17 PM

I read the story years ago... 15 years I think? Sorry I can't remember the exact issue number. (I think it may had actually been an annual story.) It was the Pre-Gary Frank days though, if that helps. (It was during that whole mess of the Mr. Fixit storyline I think.) But from the jist of the story, I'd say a fallen Christian would be apt. The belief is still there, but it's heavily jaded.

From: "Catholic Clix - Comic info needed!" forum discussion started 3 May 2003 on HCRealms website (http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-40338.html; viewed 24 May 2007):

05/03/2003, 21:04

Ok, so in recent films it's been apparent that Daredevil and Nightcrawler are Catholic...

So, who else out there could be fielded in a "Catholic" Heroclix team?

05/26/2003, 20:43

Just because someone is "raised" in a certain religion does not mean that they choose to be a member of said religion once they are on their own. I would argue that Spiderman and Batman definitely have no strong religious beliefs at this time...

Bruce [Wayne] is far too jaded about life. He wouldn't believe in God because of the life he's lead. If he does believe in God then I'm sure he would blame God for the death of his parents anyway. Either way, Batman truely seems to be one of the least religious comic characters... much like another Bruce... like Dr. Banner.

08/17/2003, 19:44

...Now another problem with trying to put most comic characters and how they believe into their history is because writers who have strong beliefs at times whether good or bad show this in their writing. An example of this was Peter David dealing with abortion and The Hulks non-committal stance started such a stir with readers both positive and negative. But if a writer on the Hulk later decides to take a stand one way or the other and relates that through the Hulk well than the Hulk represents the new stance. Denny O'Neil did this very well with the Question even giving readers a recommended non-comicbook read list.

From: "Solo Series Wish List" forum discussion page, started 8/10/04 on "Nightcrawlers" website (http://nightscrawlers.com/forum/viewthread.php?tid=4568&page=3; viewed 8 May 2006):

posted on 13/11/04 at 01:32

What other Catholic superheroes are there? [aside from Nightcrawler]

posted on 13/11/04 at 14:23

Daredevil, Cap America... even the Hulk sometimes! Not kidding!

From: "Religion of Comic Book Characters" discussion board, started 25 January 2006, on TheologyWeb website (http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?t=70046&page=2&pp=16; viewed 25 April 2006):

Johnny EC
January 28th 2006, 04:16 PM

I'm not so sure Hulk is an atheist anymore...

From: comments page about Adherents.com's "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters" section on StumbleUpon.com website (http://www.stumbleupon.com/urlarchive/10/www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html; viewed 10 May 2006):

by playermatt, Mar 19, 3:07am

A series of essays that explore whether Dr. Bruce Banner is a textbook narcissist, The Hulk is Nieztsche's superman, and Lex Luthor hates Superman because he is an anti-social, secular humanist. I really loved this.

From: Aimoo.com (21 May 2006):

The Hulk as a Catholic priest

From: "Religious Beliefs of Marvel Characters" discussion board started 20 October 2004 on Comic-Forum.com website (http://www.comic-forum.com/marvel/Religious_beliefs_of_Marvel_characters_397905.html; viewed 8 June 2006):

Date: 20 Oct 2004 21:55:56
From: OSinner1

Subject: Religious beliefs of Marvel characters?

Does anybody know the religious beliefs of various characters?

In particular:
Bruce Banner/The Hulk
Captain America
Dr. Doom
Professor X

Date: 20 Oct 2004 23:02:28
From: The Black Guardian

All I know is the last one [Magneto]: Judaism. Most of the rest are probably various denominations of Christian.

Date: 21 Oct 2004 06:27:39
From: Ken from Chicago

The rest [other than Magneto]... I think editorially the rest have been deliberately obscure about it, despite Bruce's encounter with Mephisto at Rick and Marlo wedding, "being gathered today in the sight of God."

From: "Claremont's 'Revenge' / CC Trademarks" thread on rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks/browse_thread/thread/b6c76ad39ebedbac/82cfea80ebc7bade; viewed 12 June 2006):

From: Richard Patton
Date: Sat, May 16 1998 12:00 am

re: "Does anyone have any other instances of positive (or negative) portrayals of religion in comics?"

Betty Banner's a former nun.

From: "Atheist superheroes?" thread, started 21 September 1999 on rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe/browse_thread/thread/e8d686f0b20944a6/2f9353e0760b00e7; viewed 23 June 2006):

From: MeanGenes6
Date: Wed, Sep 22 1999 12:00 am

Bruce Banner is an Atheist.

I think the Merged Hulk was a Deist (believes in a God, but not in any particular religion). I also think the various Hulks believed in a god in one form or another, but Bruce Banner was always the non-believer.

Doc Samson is Jewish.

Betty Banner was Christian.

From: Cthulhu
Date: Tues, Sep 21 1999 12:00 am

Non-belief does not make an atheism automatically, otherwise I'd imagine a bunch of agnostics would take issue.

And Hulk has many different opinions. That issue where he met Freedom Force he stated he was agnostic. Mainly because as a scientist he can't reason why there could be a God, but he says he hopes there is one so he can ask why he had to suffer all his life and for what reason.

During Marlo's wedding, he accepts Mephisto as the traditional Christian "devil" and then hypothesizes that if a devil is there, then, a god must exist somewhere. This doesn't make him believe, but agnostic.

So, no, sorry, Banner is not atheist.

He's killed before as well, one of the few heroes who has along with Wolverine, Punisher, Ghost Rider.

Either way, he's pretty much your standard agnostic...

Either way, none of the characters [Iron Man, Reed Richards, the Hulk] are always portrayed in a consistent manner and sometimes they change their views.

From: MeanGenes6
Date: Wed, Sep 22 1999 12:00 am

re: "Please, PLEASE, what issues are you guys getting these from?"

I believe it was [The Incredible Hulk] #369. It was during the Grey Hulk run. Hulk vs. Freedom Force. Bruce is staying with some family and helping them out and Bruce and the family's father discuss religion and Bruce says he's not a believer.

From: DOOM0880
Date: Wed, Sep 22 1999 12:00 am

Rick and Marlo Jones got married by Peter David at a church. No kidding!!

[Peter David was, at the time, the writer of The Incredible Hulk comic book series.]

From: Pfpsquared
Date: Wed, Sep 22 1999 12:00 am

Appropriate, since when you think about it, as far as Rick and Marlo (and Bruce and Betty and Leonard and ...) were concerned at the time, Peter David was God to them.

From: Pfpsquared
Date: Wed, Sep 22 1999 12:00 am

Betty [who became Bruce Banner's wife] is most likely Catholic, since I recall that she joined a convent to become a nun after Bruce was believed dead.

From: Carmen Williams
Date: Thurs, Sep 23 1999 12:00 am

The whole point of PAD [Peter David]'s Hulk run is that the guy is an MPD [multiple personality disorder]. For the "Bruce" part of him to be a determined atheist would not have precluded his other personas, or his merged self, being willing to believe in God. That said, I don't recall any specific issue that states that Bruce was an atheist, although it would have been in keeping with that part of his personality.

From: Dave Groening
Date: Thurs, Sep 23 1999 12:00 am

...about Bruce Banner: he did vote for Clinton, you know, and brought that girl to an abortion clinic, he dislikes everything military...

[Webmaster: It is not clear to me whether this poster is joking or serious.]

From: "The Church of Superman" forum discussion started 19 June 2006 on the "James Randi Educational Foundation" website (http://www.randi.org/forumlive/showthread.php?t=58627; viewed 15 May 2007):

19th June 2006, 06:03 AM

The Church of Superman

Hmmmm... the "religious" affiliations of comic book characters. Huh?

19th June 2006, 07:47 AM

Oh boy. They have bunches of Atheist villains...

Most super-villains in mainstream comic books are atheists, agnostics, or simply non-religious.

Where do they get this garbage from? The Leader's a megalomaniac who never mentions god, and the Hulk is a lumbering brute who never mentions god either, yet Bruce Banner gets labeled as religious, but the villain doesn't?

From: "Atheist representation on the Avengers" forum discussion started 20 June 2001 on "Comic Boards" website (http://www.comicboards.com/avengers/view.php?trd=010620110715; viewed 24 May 2007):

Posted by Jae on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 11:07:15 GMT

Atheist representation on the Avengers

The teams pretty well rounded now, but are there any atheistic members?...


Posted by D-Man on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 20:10:53 GMT

...Probably the best comic you could find to figure out who believes in a god or a god, or have deep faith in God or a god would be:

Infinity Crusade
The Goddess uses the heroes' faith and belief in gods and such to recruit heroes.

Here are a list of Avengers who are "believers" so are recruited by the Goddess:
Living Lightning
Black Knight
Invisible Woman
Wonder Man
Captain America
Scarlet Witch
Moon Knight

The so-called "non-believers" that the Goddess didn't choose:
Mr. Fantastic
Iron Man
Spider-Woman II
Beast (although Beast claims to believe in a god, but Vision counters with "Obviously because your belief in a supreme being is not as deeply felt nor well known as the others.")
Quasar (which was stated in his own book)


Re: Atheist representation on the Avengers

In my opinion, this issue is pretty well addressed in the 'Infinity Crusade.' The whole premise of the story divides all of the major Marvel heroes into "crusaders," and "infidels." The infidels were not necessarily dyed-in-the-wool atheist per say, but they did not have the faith required to be influenced by the powers of the villain (Goddess was it?).

I cannot remember how it all broke down that well, but the infidels included the scientific like Richards, and Iron Man, and hard cases like Wolverine and the Hulk. In general it seems that females were much more likely to be crusaders, and I am sure that the Black Knight, and Cap were amongst them. When the crusaders were gathered, they were drawn by images of various symbols which reflected their faiths...

From: "Which superhero would be the best Muslim?" forum discussion, started 17 January 2006 on the "Muslim Student Association: University of South Florida" website (http://www.msausf.org/MSAUSF/forums/467/ShowPost.aspx; viewed 4 June 2007):

01-17-2006, 9:00 AM

Which superhero would be the best Muslim?

Salam. Me and Momodu were speaking to each other over some delicious baklava and coffee about which superhero would most likely be Muslim. I would say Batman is most likely to be a great Muslim because he practices great self-restraint when it comes to alcohol consumption, and fornication mashallah. Also, Batman does not eat pork because it slows him down in his nightly crusades against Joker and other foes. Also, he does not have time to backbite or gossip or engage in other forms of fitna because he is too busy cleaning the Batcave and changing the oil in the Batmobile. Thank You.

Momodu, on the other hand, says the Hulk would make an amazing Muslim because he always keeps his gaze lowered. Also, Momodu says the Hulk's purple pants somehow always manage to cover his a'ura, as in his body from his belly button down to his knees. Please dont be shy about showing your feelings. No one is here to judge you and all your postings are welcome.

DC and Marvel superheroes are both welcome

01-17-2006, 9:07 AM

Cyclops from the X-Men would make a good Muslim. He would be forced to lower his gaze with women. Also Rogue would make a good Muslim because she can't touch anyone.

01-17-2006, 11:41 AM

What? Cyclops has a girlfriend and Rogue was kissing Bobby in the movie. Plus, Hulk has a VERY bad temper which is totally un-Islamic. Batman was hangin out with all those crazy European women in the movie, which was really un-Islamic, and most importantly, all superheroes lie about their true identity, and Muslims never lie... lol. I'm starting to think that I watch too many movies. Ohh, what about the Incredibles? Oh wait, no, he lied to his own wife... hmmm...

From: "Comics and Religion Discussion (DC/Marvel)" forum discussion, started 30 May 2007 on "Killer Movies" website (http://www.killermovies.com/forums/453153_1-successful-religion-based-comics-dc-marvel; viewed 6 June 2007):

What If...
May 31st, 2007 04:00 AM

There's really no point to this thread, and no point for you to attempt to justify your religious based super hero.

Yeah, Kitty is Jewish and Hulk may be catholic, but that's only one aspect of their character, and their character is not defined by religion like you are making it seem.

From: "Denominational Affiliations of Superheroes", posted by Sheridan Voysey on 2 July 2006 on "The Open House (life, faith, culture)" blog website (http://www.theopenhouse.net.au/2006/07/denominational_affiliations_of.html; viewed 19 June 2007):

With all the hoopla this week of the Superman Returns movie, you might be interested to know that almost all our superheroes have some kind of denominational affiliation. Baptist, Anglican, Methodist, Catholic - you'll find connections in the storylines of our best hooded, caped, spandex-covered, super-people...

The Hulk - Catholic (lapsed)
And remember the Incredible Hulk? Dr. Bruce Banner, as his alter-ego was called?

Dr. Banner is typically portrayed as an essentially "non-religious" scientist. But he explicitly identified himself as a lapsed Catholic in an episode of The Incredible Hulk TV show, and in one of the comic book series he was portrayed as a Catholic who believes in an afterlife. When Betty Ross, the love of his life, once believed Banner was dead, she joined a convent and began training to become a nun. Later they married, and the point is that if Betty was sufficiently Catholic to almost become a nun, she was probably Catholic enough to want to marry a fellow Catholic too.

So, Dr Bruce Banner, The Incredible Hulk, is a lapsed Catholic; Batman is a possible Anglican; Superman is a Methodist, and Spider-Man an unnamed Protestant. I'd like to know what a Presbyterian superhero would look like, or even a Pentecostal!

Superman consults Christian ministers when he needs advice; Supergirl regularly attends church; Superboy asks God what he's doing here; The Hulk believes in an afterlife, and Spiderman prays.

It seems even Superheroes need to bow the knee for some divine help every now and then.

From: "Stuart Moore's A Thousand Flowers: O Deadly Night" forum discussion, started 2 December 2003 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-6949.html; viewed 28 June 2007):

Noam Choseed
12-04-2003, 03:29 PM

Don't forget that wacky Thanos/Gamora Christmas story from an old Marvel holiday special. :cool::cool: :cool:

I should [make] clear... Thanos was in the 1993 edition of Marvel Holiday Special which also featured an Art Adams Cover and a Peter David Hulk Hanukkah story. :cool: [The "Hulk" story mentioned here is the classic Doc Samson story about Hanukkah.]

Despite the name of the page in the following source, it is not clear how "authoritative" this source is. This appears to be simply the viewpoint of one dedicated comic book fan. From: Jim Trabold, "Ultimate Marvel Handbook #19: (174)", posted 21 July 2006 in "Comics Nexus" section of "Inside Pulse" website (http://www.insidepulse.com/article_v3.php?contentid=49881; viewed 17 July 2007):

Hello everyone I'm Jim Trabold welcome to the Ultimate Marvel Handbook.

Hey Daron how are you today bud?

I'm pretty good. I'm curious though if anyone reading this column doesn't know who you are? I just find it interesting that you introduce yourself every week. I wonder if you're trying to reach the same mythic "new" readers that the comic industry is always preaching about.

I'm good. I'm missing out on SDCC but I'll make up for it next year. I still plan on reading the news and all coming from the con though. Can't wait for WW Chicago now.

Oh sure, you're gonna go to Chicago this year, and I can't make it.

Yeah that's enough con talk for now lol. Let's start.

[Question] 18 - I know that in DC, Batman (rumored), Atom, Starman, Booster Gold and Mr. Terrific are atheists, besides Wolverine and Hulk who else in Marvel is also confirmed or considered as the same?

[Answer:] Wolverine and Hulk actually do have faith in religion in their own manors. Hulk would be Bruce's religion Catholic and Wolverine was for a while but now is Buddhist.

As for confirmed atheists:
Iron Man
Ms. Marvel
Pete Wisdom

From: "Barry Allen is Jewish?" forum discussion, started 13 May 2005 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-4308.html; viewed 20 July 2007):

Heatwave the Rogue
May 15th, 2005, 07:44 AM

...I would say that any characters' religious affiliation would depend also on what the religion of their creator or writer happened to be. Stan Lee was Jewish so he probably leaned most of his characters (Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Reed Richards, etc...) in that direction, at least a subconscious level.

I would rather comic companies take a "don't ask, don't tell" policy about religion.

From: "Vegetarian Superheroes" forum discussion, started 18 March 2005 in Brian Michael Bendis section of "Jinxworld" website (http://www.606studios.com/bendisboard/archive/index.php/t-231.html; viewed 31 July 2007):

03-18-2005, 01:01 PM
So... out of curiousity are there vegetarian superheroes? I'm not talking about supporting characters, but the actual heroes who wear tights and a cape. And are any of them vegan?

03-18-2005, 03:06 PM

Ultimate Bruce Banner. But clearly not the Hulk.

Apparently an issue of Comic Book Marketplace inadvertently indicated that the Hulk had been revealed as Jewish when in fact the writer was trying to note that Ben Grimm ("The Thing") had been revealed as Jewish. This misprint prompted the following discussion. From: "What issue was the Hulk revealed as Jewish?" forum discussion, started 12 November 2004 on IMWAN website (http://www.imwan.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=999; viewed 31 July 2007):

Posted: Fri Nov 12, 2004 9:50 pm
Ray Joseph

What issue was the Hulk revealed as Jewish?

In the latest Comic Book Marketplace (116) it is stated that "the custodians of Marvel Comics revealed that the Hulk is Jewish."

What issue was this in?

Does the Thing know?

When next they meet, instead of fighting they could talk about the great time they had at their respective Bar Mitzvahs.

Seriously, did I miss an issue or did the author mean to say the Thing?

Page supplied for your inspection.

Posted: Fri Nov 12, 2004 9:59 pm

I think that's a mistake. The summer of 2002 was when The Thing was revealed to be Jewish, in The Fantastic Four #56 (Vol 3).

In the Hulk books, Doc Samson is Jewish. Peter David stated that the character had attended yeshiva in his youth, in The Incredible Hulk #373.

Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 6:25 am
Darin Wagner

To my knowledge, he [the Hulk] is not [Jewish]. As a man of science raised by a man of science, I think Bruce is probably Agnostic.

Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 7:01 am
Kurt Anderson

Because there are no scientists in churches?

Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 7:06 am
Darin Wagner

Well, sure, but when Bruce was suffering under his abusive father, did he embrace religion or did he embrace science as a means to cope? We've seen no evidence of religion in his life other than the occasional quotes like "There, but for the grace of God, go I." I figure... it is not unreasonable to assume that Bruce was raised without religion.

Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 8:01 am
Kurt Anderson

It's rare for superheroes to appear in church, unless their religion plays heavily into their characterization (Wonder Woman, Daredevil). I don't see Batman or the Atom or Green Lantern going to church, but I don't assume they're athiest or agnostic. I work with dozens of people on a daily basis, have no idea if they attend mass unless they work it into a conversation (and very few do that).

Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 8:27 am

I tend to think of Banner as being totally non-religious. I don't know that a guy that obsessed with science would think twice about it. Same as Reed Richards. It just doesn't fit with the character.

Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 8:46 am
Scott Blacksher

[Joking:] Hulky:

I forget the issue number he yelled it, though. Maybe from TALES TO ASTONISH?

Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 8:47 am
Matt Linton

A bit surprised to find myself on this side of the debate, but... Einstein. About as science-y as you get, and also religious.

Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 8:59 am

Then again, there's Paul Davies and his whole 'God Particle' thing.

I just don't recall a story where Banner ever expressed any particular feelings about the topic.

Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 9:02 am
Kurt Anderson

Darin Wagner['s opinion about the] Hulk [is] speculation...

...you assume that Batman doesn't pray because we haven't seen him do so? Then he also doesn't brush his teeth, or use a toilet, or have a snack before bed, or enjoy specific TV shows, or theater, or movies. Because we haven't seen that either.


Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 5:36 pm
Jim Yingst

...the original question was about whether Bruce Banner was Jewish. Which is both a religion and an ethnicity. And there is no shortage of scientists with Jewish backgrounds in the world, even if many of them don't necessarily believe...

Anyway, I agree with Linda that this was probably just a mixup with the Thing being Jewish.

Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 8:24 pm
Darin Wagner

Has it ever been stated that either Banner or Grimm's families Americanized their names?

Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 8:41 pm
The Professor

No. And until Dan Slott, nobody had ever addressed Ben's religion either. And nobody had ever accused Blackhawk of anglicizing his polish name before... until Howard Chaykin, as writer, decided that Blackhawk was Polish.

As with all things literary. It don't get addressed till some writer wants to address it. Again, no reason, since it's not been stated otherwise, that some writer next month couldn't decide to write the story of Bruce's great grampa, Bernie Bernstein, who hopped a tramp steamer and crossed Atlantic then discovered he couldn't get a job because of his last name. So, he started calling himself Bernard Banner, and doggone if the dang bigots hired him right up.

And that's how the "Banner" family got started. [Emoticon: Smile, indicating that he is just joking here.]

Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 4:22 am

According to http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/Hulk.html Ultimate Hulk is explicitly Catholic, since he has a Catholic funeral. They also claim the TV Hulk was explicitly Catholic, too, though I didn't see any evidence for that on the site.

According to this source there's no definitive statement about the religion of the MU [Marvel Universe] Hulk. But they argue that because at one time Betty temporarily entered the novitiate for a Catholic order (when Bruce was supposedly dead), it's possible that someone who takes their religion that seriously might not marry outside their faith.

The other argument is that Bruce being Catholic might explain why he doesn't just commit suicide rather than endanger the world further as the Hulk. Catholicism once had strong strictures against suicide as the one unforgivable sin (since you can't ask for forgiveness), though with the recognition that suicide is most frequently the result of depression and so not entirely a free act that position has softened.

The general site http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html covers the faith of just about every superhero out there, some with explicit evidence from comics, some with conjecture based on various elements from the character's history or personality.

Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 4:55 am
Edward J. Cunningham

I think it was revealed during Peter David's run on the Hulk that Betty Ross was Catholic. She certainly did NOT belong to PAD's [Peter David's] faith [i.e., Judaism]. He also showed during his Supergirl run that the Danvers were Protestants (I'm not sure which branch... probably American (Northern) Baptist) and Linda's mother was very religious.

Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 5:33 am
Darin Wagner

Okay, well until some writer says "Banner" is an Americanized version of Bannerstein, I'm not going to assume that Bruce Banner is Jewish.

Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 6:07 am
The Professor

Is anyone really "assuming" him to be Jewish? I'm just saying that as far as I know, and this is a good thing, he COULD be either Jew, Christian, or something else. I'd honestly rather not know.

Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 6:09 am

Darin Wagner

re: "Is anyone really "assuming" him to be Jewish?"

Based on the title of the thread, it seems someone is.


Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 6:30 am
Rob Steinbrenner

GIven 1% of the US population is Jewish, I'd say no for Banner [being Jewish], absent any evidence to the contrary. Which, to my knowledge, there is none. Hulk seems to be something of a separate being with no religion at all.

Most superheroes, to me, are probably Protestants, some Catholics, who generally believe in God and even Jesus perhaps, but are not churchgoers on a regular basis, and are not the type who pray religiously or live their lives strictly according to Biblical teachings or talk about it a lot. But they occasionally pray in hard times, go to Church a couple of times a year, and generally believe. Like most Americans in big cities and suburbs in the Northeast - where most, although not Hulk, are from.


Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 9:12 am
Kurt Anderson


Why does it upset you so to see comic book characters associated with religious faiths? It stands to reason that a percentage of them would be extremely religious.. some would attend services... some would consider themselves part of a religion even if they don't participate.. just as in the real world.

Yet you seem to be offended by writers who build on characters by including religion... something that is a part of most folks' lives and has greatly affected politics over the past few decades. Not exactly a topic that should be shoved under a rug.

It seems ridiculous to keep characters stagnant, stuck in the vaccum built by their creators.

Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 10:56 am
Darin Wagner

I reject the premise on which your question is based. [Darin later makes it clear what he means by this: He rejects the assumption in Kurt's question. Darin does not actually object to comic book characters expressing religious faith.]

Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 12:22 pm
The Professor

re: "Is anyone really "assuming" him to be Jewish?"

re: "Based on the title of the thread, it seems someone is."

Based on the title of the thread and the initial post in the thread, it seems that someone queried whether COMIC BOOK MARKETPLACE knew something the poster didn't know or had just gotten the Hulk and the Thing mixed up.

I think it's pretty clear that CBM got the two names mixed up.

Now, as to the question somewhere up there about why someone like you or me might prefer to leave the religious leanings of comic characters unrevealed. Very simply, I would do this because it can instantaneously either marginalize the potential readership who might have a strong emotional and/or religious objection to said religion. To maintain as wide of an appeal for most mainstream super-heroes, it really is best to avoid such a polarizing topic as their personal religious belief. Another reason is that it way too often becomes just a plot device for a writer to either proselytize or criticize the religion in question. And I really just don't like reading or seeing that in my super-hero comics. Another thing that it does is that most people do not have a moderate position on religion and whatever their position on it, the presence -- all of a sudden -- of a specific religious faith in a super-hero, once again, piles a bunch of presumptive baggage onto the character that he or she can smother under and basically kill the effective potential of the character. One of the worst things that Marvel ever did was take the swashbuckling, happy-go-lucky, Nightcrawler and turn him into a self-loathing, guilt-ridden extreme Catholic.

There are exceptions, and I would put that Muslim hero introduced recently in SUPERMAN and THE THING as the exceptions that prove the rule.

Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 12:36 pm
Darin Wagner

re: "I think it's pretty clear that CBM got the two names mixed up."

I think you're right.

From: Tom R., "It's Kabbalah-in' Time!", posted 24 July 2006 on "Father McKenzie" website (http://fathermckenzie.blogspot.com/2006/07/its-kabbalah-in-time.html; viewed 10 August 2007):

And when The Thing takes on The Hulk, the resulting orange versus green blur is a metaphor for Nothern Ireland...)

...Superman is not the only superhero thought to be religious - Wonder Woman fancied ancient Egyptian religions, Batman is said to be a lapsed Anglican or Catholic (because of the crosses on his parents' tombstones), as is the Hulk. Rogue from the X-Men was raised as a Baptist, and Spider-Man prays to what is assumed to be a Protestant God...

From: Ben Hunt, Reader comments to "Not Easy Being Green", posted 19 September 2002 on official website of Peter David (long-time Hulk writer) (http://peterdavid.malibulist.com/archives/001339.html; viewed 12 August 2007):

...And to state the unpopular opinion, your own views did occaisionally pop out during your writing, Peter. Your distaste for the first President Bush was apparent while you wrote X-Factor (which I loved, by the way), and your views on Israel came out in the story where the Hulk fought Sabra, and again during the story where he liberates his old girlfriend from prison. I don't think anyone can ever really be seperated from their work, but you made valiant attempts in all your stories. I actually though that you were Catholic, because you made Betty a nun and appeared as a priest during Rick Jones' wedding. Man was I wrong, but then, I though the Thing was Catholic, too (read FF 55, or there abouts).

From: Ranuel, "Religion of Comic Book Characters", posted 26 June 2007 on "Why Am I In This Handbasket?" blog website (http://ranuel.livejournal.com/25893.html; viewed 15 August 2007):


If you are a comic geek then you probably already know that Nightcrawler is Catholic and Kitty Pryde is Jewish but what about The Hulk? ...

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