I know that the original Hulk was originally supposed to be grey, and real life printing issues and decisions caused him to eventually be portrayed as green (and then grey again).

However, is there any in-universe/canon explanation as to why, in addition to causing extreme size and strength increase, the gamma-radiation that turned Bruce Banner into the Hulk also caused his skin color to change?

Edit: I realize that the origins of the decisions regarding the color of his skin during his change are rooted in the original comic, but any "officially sanctioned" source that gives an in-universe explanation would be welcome.

  • Sorry about the retagging issues. The question still relates to comics as well as movies. Would having both movies and comics work for you? – AncientSwordRage Apr 4 '12 at 17:07
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    @Pureferret No apology needed. For that solution to work, though, we'd also need to add tv, which puts us at 6, which is too many. I think leaving the medium untagged seems a better option, but I'm open to other opinions. – Beofett Apr 4 '12 at 17:12
  • @Pureferret Before I rollback the tag again, has something changed where now we're using the comics for media-agnostic questions? I thought the last time we had this discussion, we agreed that comics without movies and tv would limit the scope of the question beyond what was intended. – Beofett Jun 13 '12 at 14:33
  • Honestly, I was looking for un-comic-tagged posts, and completely forgot we'd discussed this already. This time I thought this was referencing the printing of images in the comics, which isn't very ambiguous. Feel free to rollback. – AncientSwordRage Jun 13 '12 at 15:26
  • I thought it might have been something like that, after reading your meta post on comics tagging. No worries. I'll also edit the question to clarify that it is open to all media. – Beofett Jun 13 '12 at 15:48

I'm not sure if this article would best answer this question for you but according to marvel the grey and green hulk's were brought about by different stimuli. The grey Hulk came from when Bruce was first transforming and could only transform at night. The green Hulk came from when Bruce's adrenaline caused him to change.


The actual reason seems to be a bit more technical (and not really related to the plot, although they later do explain the color-change in universe). From Wikipedia:

In the debut, Lee chose gray for the Hulk because he wanted a color that did not suggest any particular ethnic group. Colorist Stan Goldberg, however, had problems with the gray coloring, resulting in different shades of gray, and even green, in the issue. After seeing the first published issue, Lee chose to change the skin color to green.

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    I have a trade paperback that reprints the first issue, but they have recolored the Hulk from gray to green. Also several What If? comics revisit the events of the first issue and he is green then too. This highlights the fact that there isn't an in-universe reason, Hulk has been retconned to be green from the start. – Thunderforge May 24 '16 at 4:55

My possible explanation is that it's the result of the species he tested with. Or maybe the exceeded exposure to Gamma radiation may also be reason. The only problem with that theory is why is he not green when he is Bruce Banner? Is it because of the factor that is responsible for huge mass conversion that has managed to change his body colour as well?

  • "the species he tested with"? We are not talking about She-Hulk here :) – Eureka Feb 2 '14 at 10:02
  • More seriously, welcome among us! Do you have any elements to support this "exceeded exposure" theory? – Eureka Feb 2 '14 at 10:03

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