Why The Incredible Hulk Is Green
When Physicist Bruce Banner is exposed to a lethal dose of gamma radiation an incredible transformation begins rewriting his DNA into a giant raging monster whose skin was originally conceived as gray. Another creation of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1962, whose Marvel Universe developed almost simultaneously in a creative urge triggered by their imagination.
Although Lee did not want the Hulk identified with any ethnic group, gray was a difficult color to master and he finally settled on green. The Hulk became representative of the Id, the arch-type image of rudimentary rage with super strength who, over time, adapts to a world that continues to see him only as savage unbridled strength. A founding member of The Avengers with a failure to communicate, he challenges The Fantastic Four, Spider-man, and The Avengers often as the misunderstood antagonist unable to master the art of language or his own strength triggered by anger. His arch-enemy, the Leader, another creation of a gamma radiation accident at a chemical plant develops super intelligence with green skin, the apparent Super-ego to Hulk’s Id.
In an intentional exposure to gamma rays, Emil Blonsky a Yugoslav KGB agent becomes the Abomination, a massive green skinned creature with twice the strength of the Hulk while retaining all memory and intelligence of human form. His transformation becomes permanent.
With all this gamma radiation its a wonder why there are not more Hulks running around the planet. But wait, there is Jennifer Susan Walters also known as She Hulk. Bruce Banner’s cousin turns green when she receives a blood transfusion from him after being mortally wounded, and in a femininely appropriate shade finds herself more in control of her transformation, afflicted with less anger or strength than the Hulk. More Amazonian in appearance she prefers the self confidence and assertiveness the transformation provides, ultimately embracing her green form rather than her normally shy fragile self. An interesting choice reflective of a more balanced Ego while careful application of flesh color Body Base and make-up would allow her to pass for human.
As with other characters of the Marvel Universe, isolation, internal conflict and flaws follow each super-hero in the struggle to deal with their mutant-ness. The Hulk represents a hero who goes over the edge, a mass of primal uncontrolled power, struggling to find the balance of reason his form has difficulty maintaining. Over time, he learns some focus while sadly accepting that he will always be looked on by society as a freak.
With the release of the movie on Friday the thirteenth, of June it will be interesting to see if Edward Norton, a talented actor, can find the right emotional imbalance to inform Bruce Banner, the alter ego of the Hulk, as he transforms losing all memory without actual exposure to a lethal dose of radiation. Hopefully, CGI effects will be appropriate to the character and story line.
Another reason why the Incredible Hulk is green is probably that Stan Lee decided gamma radiation turns things green. A logical assumption.