Being that Hulk gets stronger when he gets angrier, how was Thanos able to knock Hulk out with such ease and why did Hulk not get more angry and increase his strength when fighting Thanos? From what I can see, Thanos did not use the Power Stone in the Infinity Gauntlet.

So how does Thanos beat hulk with such ease?


I just want add some of the extreme strength feats comic Hulk has performed and to show that Hulk is an extremely strong being.

  • Held a planet together
  • Tore the fabric of reality
  • Destroyed an asteroid twice the size of Earth
  • Held up a star's weight
  • Withstood a hundred trillion ton punch
  • Held up a Celestial
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    This was asked before on Movies SE: movies.stackexchange.com/questions/92247/… – Arcanist Lupus Nov 13 at 14:15
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    Unless the feats of strength that Comic-Hulk did have also been done by MCU-Hulk, they seem a bit irrelevant, since we'd have to then list Comic-Thanos' feats if strength too, to put his strength into perspective as well? – Longshanks Nov 14 at 12:47
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    @Longshanks, what else do we have to go on? – KyloRen Nov 14 at 12:55
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    Any and all events within the MCU canon featuring Hulk and Thanos. If there's a lack of information within that to provide a clear answer, then you'd go to the word of God. You can also use events from the films to try and work out power levels (See the YouTube series Deathbattle for examples of how they work out power levels of characters) - i.e. Scale up a regular dog to Hela's dog to workout how much Hulk can lift. Or look at how far he can jump + his body weight, to work out how strong his legs are. – Longshanks Nov 14 at 13:05
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    It’s almost as if the movies and the comics are different. – Paul D. Waite Nov 16 at 10:54

Because Thanos is simply stronger than the Hulk.

That statement is not made without controversy, but according to the film's writers in a MovieWeb article he didn't even need the stones,

Avengers: Infinity War has brought up more than a few debates, but screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have now revealed that Thanos would've beat the Hulk even if he didn't have the Infinity Gauntlet with the Power Stone, fueling more debate. The opening scene takes place on the Asgardian refugee ship after Thanos and his Black Order have taken it over to locate the Tesseract. In a last ditch effort to defeat Thanos, Loki sends the Hulk into a rage to fight. However, the fight doesn't go in the Hulk's favor.

Stephen McFeely believes that the Mad Titan would've destroyed the Hulk with his own bare hands in Infinity War. This would explain why Ebony Maw allows the fight to continue and makes the scene look like Thanos was just having some fun, like a cat playing with a mouse. Looking back at the scene, Maw and Thanos are pretty calm, even when it appears that the Hulk has the upper hand in the battle.

McFeely had this to say when asked if Thanos could still beat Hulk without help. I think he could. I may be speaking out of turn, but I think Thanos could kick the Hulk's ass without the (Power Stone).

This was to establish that Thanos is not to be trifled with,

However, the opening Infinity War scene wasn't just to show that Thanos could beat the Hulk. Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige revealed early on that the first 5 minutes of Infinity War would show off the immense power of the Mad Titan and he was not kidding around. McFeely explains.


From an in-universe perspective we also have Korath the Pursuer state in Guardians of the Galaxy that

Thanos is the most powerful being in the universe.

This is when Ronan is about to wield the power stone and Korath is trying to stop him.


You can also find the source interview for the above linked article here.

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    You might want to link (and quote) the actual interview; youtube.com/watch?v=31hGnh7elAU – Valorum Nov 13 at 12:50
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    Possibly also the Worf Effect? – Draco18s Nov 13 at 20:06
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    Thanks @Draco18s I just got back from following that link. What day is it? – Harper Nov 14 at 2:02
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    Note that the "most powerful being" quote is likely not in relation to physical strength but rather political/military power, what is commonly described as someone's "reach". In the first Avengers movie, Loki can be described as powerful (i.e. in a seat of power, albeit given) but the Hulk flung him around like a puppet. – Flater Nov 14 at 9:38
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit: I'm not discrediting Thanos' strength, but pointing out that the supposed evidence (the quote) is not particularly evidence (nor testimony) of physical strength. – Flater Nov 14 at 11:32

They appear very evenly matched in terms of raw strength, unfortunately for Hulk, strength wasn't the deciding factor in this fight.

Hulk lays out Thanos initially, and Thanos isn't able to push him off - until he's got something to brace against. In a contest of strength between two opponents of approximately equal strength, the winner is going to be the one with greater momentum or something to brace against.

Thanos uses this momentary advantage to get to his feet and set his stance, after which he controls the fight. The Hulk becomes a glorified punching bag because he fights without technique, and against an opponent like Thanos, that's not going to work.

Hulk consistently wins because he's so ridiculously stronger than most of his opponents that his capacity to absorb damage means he can basically ignore technique with the same freedom that he ignores damage.

Against a disciplined technical fighter in his own weight class? He never stood a chance.

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    Thanos - greatest pound for pound fighter in the MCU? – josh Nov 14 at 10:53
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    @josh If we're going pound-for-pound, surely one of the Pym crew would take that – Azor Ahai Nov 15 at 5:42
  • @AzorAhai haha, yes, I was thinking this but I wasn't sure how their weights change with their size. I feel a new question brewing... – josh Nov 15 at 11:53

TLDR: We don't know and can only speculate. The movie uses this to get our curiosity and to establish Thanos as a strong villain.

We never see the Hulk build up anger. For all we know he could have just woken up in his bed, realising the ship is under attack, smashing a few of Thanos underlings and then go right at him, just because he was awoken in the middle of a good dream. At the least, we know he typically gets angrier if he's in life-threatening situations himself or if the love of his life is in danger. In the MCU, Black Widow gets closest to that and she's not around, nor do we have an indication that he was in serious danger before being beaten by Thanos.

So in-universe, it is likely he wasn't at his full potential and not very focused. And Thanos is likely at least about the same strength level, with better technique (less emotional fighting style) in that fight. Hulk was probably taken by surprise in how strong his opponent was - and we've seen in Age of Ultron, that surprising him when he's not looking/focused/at full strength is a sneaky way to get him out of the picture for a while.

Hulk wasn't ultimately defeated in the sense of about to die, yet a space ship is also a terrible place for the MCU Hulk to fight in. So far, we have no indication to think that he would survive in space. Even if that were the case, breaking the ship apart would kill the remaining Asgardians. And this would likely happen if he were to fully "hulk out" and have an extensive fight against someone at least equally strong. So, in his "mentally improved" state where he can talk and recognizes "friends" properly, he might also have held back on purpose. In any case it was probably a sane decision to just send him away and not drag out the lost fight.

Out of universe, the movie explicitly doesn't focus on him or his mental state. What mood he is in, what fights he had earlier whether he just transformed, whether he already is in disagreement with Banner or not. It doesn't make a big fuss about the fight and none about any "preparation" on Hulk's side. This way it builds the question of how he lost and why he hides inside Banner up as a mystery box for the next movie to open and investigate, while for the time being using him and Thor to establish how powerful Thanos is. Up to this point, those two were the top-contenders for "strongest avenger", so it sends a powerful message if Thanos outright beats both(!) - individually.

Personal side note: I sure hope Hulk can pick up that Gimli-Legolas relationship again, solve his mental issues and "level up" as well, after Thor stepped up his game in Ragnarok and IW.

  • Dreaming is speculation. No evidence provided. Also not plausible to sleep through your ship being attacked and boarded. It's a plot hole and bad writing. – Chloe Nov 14 at 22:34
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    @Chloe Obviously it's speculation, that's my whole point, we have no clue what happened earlier. It's absolutely not a plot hole nor bad writing, it's simply omission (so yes, a hole in the sense that we don't see it^^), because it's not important for the story of the movie. It's even a nice tool to get people interested. Whether it's used well, all depends on whether and how they will come back to it. The whole "Hulk is hiding in Banner" storyline makes it very likely we will see a story arc about Hulk's defeat in the next movie in some form. – Darkwing Nov 15 at 10:32
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    @Chloe it would be a plot hole if Hulk later on easily beats Thanos without anything in-between that explains the difference between the old and new situation. But that he looses a short fight round doesn't go against what we know from the movies. He even got knocked out by the Hulk-buster. – Darkwing Nov 15 at 10:39
  • This is the correct answer – Garet Claborn Nov 15 at 18:10

First of all this is not the Hulk of the Comics and so one can't be compared to another.

Within the MCU we have already seen Hulk beaten or matched in combat several times.

Thor is his match in the Avengers and in Ragnarok again proves to be able to match a Hulk who has been fighting for years finally beating him to a draw.

Tony Stark in the Hulk Buster, yes it took dropping a building on his head but he was able to defeat Hulk in a fight.

So within the MCU we have already seen Hulk is not as infinitely strong as his comic book alter ego. Now add to this the fact that Thanos has been defined as the most powerful being in the Universe, he has an infinity stone already, has been shown to beat Thor (who could hold his own against Hulk) and is therefore easily a match for Hulk. Remember Hulks power comes from Anger, now if Hulk is being beaten by Thanos fear and doubt starts to creep in. This then leads to these emotions overcoming his anger meaning he would actually weaken meaning Thanos can cause more damage leading to him weakening more.

This fear and shock at being so easily beaten would explain why Hulk does not want to come out to face Thanos again later in the movie.

  • "First of all this is not the Hulk of the Comics and so one can't be compared to another" Exactly, we have to keep in mind that the MCU is a different universe and we cannot use the comics to speculate on the characters. – Aventinus Nov 20 at 9:38

This was discussed by the film's directors, the Russo Brothers in a recent interview. In short, Thanos is as strong as the Hulk and more than a match for him in terms of fighting technique. The only thing Hulk has going for him is raw aggression and that got him a slight advantage at the start of the fight along with the element of surprise.

Note also that Thanos wasn't using the Power Stone to augment his own natural abilities. Had he done so, presumably he'd have been able to punch a hole straight through the Hulk and out the other side.

I would say that he’s just that powerful. You didn’t see him actively use the power stone in that fight. I think ultimately, the way we looked at that fight and the way talked about it with our stunt team when we were executing it was Hulk is obviously very powerful, but he’s a little mindless in his fighting style. It’s aggressive; it’s pummeling. Thanos is the Ghengis Kahn of the universe; he’s a very skilled fighter, equally as strong. So when you put those two up against each other, the more skilled fighter is going to win ultimately. Which is why Hulk has a moment where he overpowers Thanos, but ultimately Thanos is smart.”

The Russo Brothers Share How Thanos Beat Hulk In ‘Avengers: Infinity War’

He did use the Power Stone. According to the comic book, Thanos is able to wield the power of the stones simply by having them in his possession (he doesn't need to keep them inside the gauntlet). With the Power Stone, Thanos' physical strength is basically unmatched. At some point in the storyline, Thanos admits that he needed the Power Stone to overcome creatures such as the Hulk, implying that at his regular strength level the Hulk would be a match for him.

Still, based on feats, I don't believe the Hulk would be a match for Thanos even without the Power Stone. I've read all issues of the Incredible Hulk comics and there have been dozens of creatures who have defeated him in combat. People want to think that Hulk is invincible and the physically strongest creature in MU but it's simply not true. His strength is proportional to his anger, but since his anger has limits, so does his strength.

On the other hand, very few creatures have bested Thanos in combat. The only person who has achieved this single-handedly in a straight-up fight happens to be a character from the MCU who has conveniently gone missing during the Infinity Wars (of course I'm talking about Odin).

The creature who has overpowered the Hulk more easily than any other (and actually killed him in the split of a second) is a character who has made cameo appearances in the MCU (talking about Cosmo the Spacedog). PS: Alright, I know that was Cancerverse Hulk - but it's an overpowered clone of the real Hulk...

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    It's worth noting that this question is about the MCU whereas the majority of your answer is talking from the comics perspectives and there are differences. – TheLethalCarrot Nov 16 at 10:13
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    According to "the" comicbook? Which comicbook and what does it say? – Valorum Nov 16 at 10:15
  • @Valorum. The comic book in question is the Thanos Quest. – Digio Nov 16 at 13:38
  • @TheLethalCarrot I'm aware of this but I believe most people are interested in the comics perspective, at least for the things that MCU does not explain. – Digio Nov 16 at 13:40
  • The directors insist that he didn't use the Power Stone – Valorum Dec 8 at 8:34

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