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Is it possible for the Hulk to stop his momentum in mid air so he doesn't get hurled into space by someone? just wondering if that is possible (I doubt it)

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    Not quite stopping himself in midair, but most people don't remember that in one of the very first appearances of the Hulk (#4 according to this article) the Hulk DID manage to steer while in midair. He hasn't done so since, but this old bit of canon suggests that he could steer, and possibly us his hands to arc himself out or a trajectory that would otherwise put him out of the atmosphere. – David Stratton Jul 12 '13 at 2:35
  • @DavidStratton: Is this 'steering' any different from what skydivers routinely do today? – Jeff Jul 12 '13 at 15:21
  • Interesting point @davidstratton – Andy Jul 12 '13 at 16:21
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    @Jeff Pretty much, but not exactly. I was the same mechanism, but he made turns that defied physics. I no longer have the issue, but I am pretty sure I remember him making an almost 90 degree turn in midair around a butte. I can't find that image, so I assume my memory is off, but there's a picture here that shows him arcing improbably as he exits a tent. – David Stratton Jul 12 '13 at 21:19
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No.

Hulk doesn't respect the rules of physics, true - he grows in mass without any intake of matter. His muscles (and again, mass) change in tensile strength, power, and size based upon his emotional state. His pants, though none of his other clothes, are invulnerable. Hulk has no need for 'physics'. He can even regenerate significant portions of his body without intake of calories or matter.

But he can't change direction in mid-air (like Superman) without a solid, physical object to exert force against. Because that would be silly.

Unlike characters with flight powers, Hulk has always simply had the ability to leap great distances. This power isn't like flight - which allows changes in velocity - but is generally 'respectful' of gravitational/Newtonian physics (I say 'respectful' because it still violates physics in many ways, just not as badly).

This has actually been a plot element in some situations (though the one I'm most familiar with is not directly related to Hulk) - Superman in his first battle against Doomsday realized that he jumped instead of flying. Superman was then able to use this against him - dropping him from heights, redirecting him in mid-air, and even sticking him in mud at the bottom of a lake (hoping he couldn't get purchase enough to jump and would be slowed by having to walk out).

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    Couldn't he clap his hands really fast and push himself back with air shocks while he's in the atmosphere? >_> – jono Jul 11 '13 at 22:12
  • @jono: With Hulk's mass, I don't think he could reasonably move enough air to significantly change his velocity. Hulk obeys Newtonian physics, at least. – Jeff Jul 12 '13 at 2:33
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    @Jeff Given the Hulk's strength shown compared to his mass I honestly wouldn't be surprised if he'd be capable of sustained flight by flapping his arms. Marvel wikia says he can jump 3k ft in a single bound, and weighs ~1400 lbs. Rough calc says that's some 60 kN in one kick (not counting air resistance, which adds a lot). If he can kick once every few seconds he'd be outperforming several jet engines. – jono Jul 12 '13 at 4:03
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    @Jeff Calculating Lift Force of the Hulk's feet isn't exactly my specialty, but I'm coming up with rough numbers of about 7-10 kN for each kick (assuming a foot area of 0.25 m2), in air pressure of 1.2 kg/m3. If the Hulk could kick every other second or faster, he would actually be able to fly with his feet. If he didn't go too fast, he would definitely be able to change direction mid-air. – jono Jul 12 '13 at 5:33
  • @jono what an great point. No way of knowing though unless the writers make it happen haha – Andy Jul 12 '13 at 18:51
7

NO. The Hulk cannot fly. He is as vulnerable to gravity as anyone once he has left the surface of the planet. His list of powers, while prodigious, does not allow him the power of flight.

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The Hulk's most common mode of movement is his incredible leaping abilities. But he cannot control the direction of his leaps once he leaves the ground.

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His leap is powerful enough he has used it to attack aircraft in the sky!

Thus he is vulnerable to being removed from a battlefield by being thrown from it. The trick is it will take an individual of incredible ability to be able to effectively drive or throw the Hulk from the field of battle and only a few beings in the Marvel universe possess the capacity.

  • An individual would have to have superhuman strength on par with the Hulk's.
  • Combat capability and durability to withstand getting into close combat with the Hulk.
  • If they are not doing close combat, they will need a ranged attack or telekinetic ability strong enough to hold the Hulk until he reaches space for example.

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Most of the people strong enough to survive combat with the Hulk are not strong enough to remove him from the battlefield by throwing him. An inert Hulk, yes, a fighting Hulk, no. The most likely candidates include:

  • Thor, Red Hulk, Colossus the Juggernaut, Hercules, Count Nefaria, The Sentry, Blue Marvel, Gladiator, Vulcan and maybe Hulkbuster Iron Man to name a few of the Earth's heaviest hitters. While they are clearly able to hold their own against him, they rarely seem to be able to get the upper hand long enough to push the Hulk into space where his lack of flight would hinder him.

There are a few energy projector or telekinetic types who might be able to do the same but probably couldn't hold him long enough to get him into orbit.

  • These include Jean Grey/Phoenix, Franklin Richards, Magneto, Cyclops/Havok (positioned just right and in terms of sheer output of energy required) Since most of these people use mental ability to drive their power, when confronted in the comics, they have to overcome the Hulk's physical strength to utilize their telekinetic ability. Most will succumb to feedback trying to contain the Hulk's power.

A couple of technologists could do it if they had the right gear on hand.

  • These include Reed Richards (various antigravity technologies), the Wizard (his antigravity disks), Henry Pym (there is no proof that the Hulk is immune to Pym particles).

In a few battles with beings of cosmic capacity such as the Silver Surfer, where the power discrepancy was easily recognized, even those beings were rarely able to get the Hulk into a position where his lack of flight stopped the fight.

  • In fifteen confrontations between the Hulk and the Surfer over the decades only one of those fights was the Hulk the clear victor. The Surfer claims three. The bulk of their battles ended in a draw.

  • Only two of those battles ever found their way into space, where the Surfer would have had a clear advantage.

The Hulk's fighting capacities ensure fights with him stay where he wants them, and that is on the ground where he can bring his superhuman strength to bear most powerfully.

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See Also: How high can the Hulk jump?

  • My bad, I guess Colossus merged with Juggernaut. – Mark Rogers Jul 11 '13 at 22:27
  • Yes, Colossus IS the Juggernaut – Thaddeus Howze Jul 11 '13 at 23:38
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    You missed a fight: In Marvel Zombies, Zombie Hulk (The Hungriest There Is!) beats Silver Surfer and eats his head. In one bite. Then he gains a measure of the Power Cosmic. It doesn't end well. – Jeff Jul 12 '13 at 2:26
  • Where does this image (hulk smashing the silver surfer) come from? – Kalissar Nov 30 '13 at 23:42
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Normal Newtonian Physics state that the Hulk shouldn't be able to change directions; an object in motion will stay in motion until acted upon an outside force. Normally, that's gravity, aerodynamics, and a variety of other resistances that come up. While the Hulk is indeed incredibly strong (Thaddeus and Jeff, I bow to your wisdoms), several things are working against him.

1) Wrong Power - Thanks to Jeff's math, he ballparked Hulk's feet as displacing 7-10 kiloNewtons. Which is incredible. Unfortunately, just because one is strong, doesn't not equal one can 'fly'. There are three forms of flights; propulsion (like chemical rockets or Cannonball), object-based (like the Green Lantern's ring), and levitation (Silver Surfer). The Hulk doesn't actually fit in any of these rather broad definitions. While he can propel himself off the Earth, he can only control his trajectory during the point of launch, like you or I can. Once he gets airborne, he'd had to have something to give him the ability to alter his 'flight' path.

2) Wrong Shape - Planes have wings. Birds have feathers. Parachutists have a canopy of silk. All these things deal with the laws of aerodynamics; it is how an object is treated in a fluid (and if you remember your physics class, a fluid is both water and air). Metal ships float because of volume displacement (ship's weight/volume displaced by design), and it works the same in air. Birds have hollow bones and feathers to add surface area. Planes have wings for much the same purpose. A pharachute works off the principle of surface area/surface volume x weight/air volume. The Hulk is big, heavy, and not at all shaped in an aerodynamic form. For him to use his hands and feet to change trajectory, he would need to be in a substance much thicker than air. An artillery round accellerates at a fast velocity, and even rotates for accuracy, but the rotations do not cause it to alter course or flip until it hits something more significant than air.

3) Wrong Enviorment - Ever seen an astronaut in zero gravity, stuck in the middle of a space shuttle? No gravity, no friction, and yet he still tumbles end-over-end. Doesn't matter his mass (since there's no weight) or how strong he is, he is still a victim of his environment. Hulk, once in the air, will be affected by the same principle; he needs some sort of solid surface or thicker medium for him to alter his trajectory. And given his weight and strength, it would have to be something that could survive at least as much force as the Hulk is willing to exude in order to do so, otherwise it would simply break and slow him down, or possibly give him a fraction of the ability of what he wanted to do (ie, if it breaks in mid-jump it will only be at a certrain percentage of effectiveness).

Now that I've said that...

Comic books rarely observe the normal laws. Seriously, Hulk is a perpetual motion machine, which cannot work in reality, and his transformation breaks so many laws that it isn't funny. Some comics try to explain it using unorthodox means (like Cyclops' mutant power, which how does ones' X-genes give access to other demensions, anyhow?), or go with the ever-popular "alien" write-off. Does anyone really care that Ghost Rider constantly breaks the Laws of Thermodynamics as he gleefully burns without fuel, diagnosed as neither a means of conduction, convection, or radiation? Does anyone ask how the Juggernaut can supposedly level a mountain when force = mass x distance and/or speed? Or that an organic being can be infused with an unnatural energy source with no apparant bad side effects and complete perfect bonding (and there's a whole host to choose from on this one, but I'll pick Captain America for now). Or Franklin Richards and Jamie Braddoc, who can can just plain warp reality.

Answer: it's a comic book. Just enjoy it.

  • I calculated the Hulk to generate 60 kN at launch, the 7-10 kN was for kicking air while he was airborne. That would give him the same kind of flight as a colibri, bumblebee, or any other winged, non-gliding animal. Now, two years later, I can't exactly vouch for my (really rough) calculations, but this should really apply to almost every superstrong character. Power-to-weight ratio in comics is all kinds of messed up – jono Aug 1 '15 at 7:39
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Hulk can emit gamma radiation from his hands he does this when ever he does his gamma slap. so in theory he could propel himself in space via gamma radiation in a similar fashion that an Ion Engine would work since he is a being of pure gamma radiation he should be able to propel himself at an incredible speed

  • This wouldn't work under real-world physics; gamma radiation is massless, so Hulk wouldn't be able to use it to affect his momentum. It might be possible under comic book physics; has he ever done this? – Jason Baker Aug 1 '15 at 6:26
  • Ion Radiation is also massless yet it can be used as propulsion – Randell1985 Aug 3 '15 at 9:11
  • Ion propulsion doesn't use radiation; it relies on expelling ion (which do have mass) and taking advantage of conservation of momentum – Jason Baker Aug 3 '15 at 16:38
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Yes, the Hulk should be able to stop himself in mid air. To do so he would have to "smack" the air, as a spaceship does on reentry. The force required to "smack" the air hard enough to stop would be great, but Hulk, who is call "World Breaker" in World War Hulk, could exert that muck force. However the Hulk is unlikely to think to "smack" the air as his plans are simplistic.

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