In the Incredible Hulk (2008), the character Dr. Samuel Sterns refers to test subjects which hadn't survived shortly before he shows the main characters a supply of Banner's blood, used, presumably, in those tests.

What test subjects was he talking about? I've watched the scene twice, and if he was talking about human test subjects, that seems like it would have been a bigger reveal.


As you might think, given the question, the answer is typically as ambiguous as you like; it could be lab rats, it could be kidnapped people (given the central city location of his lab, it would most likely be the former, unless he also had test facilities elsewhere in more remote, clandestine locations). Given the lack of information in the movie other than the direct reference from Stern, and the inferences from the locale, you can only speculate.

My personal opinion would be lab rats; Stern wouldn't have been able to have large amounts of Banner's blood (accessibility/cost, storage etc.) and would want to be able to provide large doses to see different effects. Between trying to get a larger amount of blood or using smaller test subjects, I'd think the latter would be better.

Scientifically, it would be better to use lab rats, where you would get a more consistent set of data from particular litters, rather than kidnap victims, who could have any number of issues (diagnosed and undiagnosed) that could skew results.

Economically, lab rats don't have to be maintained on the same level as human test subjects; one bag of suitable food would keep a lot more rats going than humans with their typical dietary requirements.

Lab rats also don't try to call for help or cause legal problems/contact the authorities when they escape; Stern isn't necessarily evil at this point, but in the film he should be smart enough to know his options and pick the less risky one from a legal standpoint.

As an aside, the marvel canon doesn't have the Leader (the Hulk villain whom Samuel Sterns becomes) either as a "man of intellect", or as someone who experiments with the Hulk's blood (at least until much, much later in their history together), until he actually becomes the Leader.

Leader (comics) - Wikipedia

  • I thought he synthesized the large quantity of Banner's blood from the small sample he was mailed? – Monty129 Jan 21 '14 at 13:07
  • Apologies if that is the case; been some time since I saw the movie. Even if he does have a large supply of Banner's blood, the other considerations would still apply (even more so if his available space is taken up with storage for the blood). – Ardavion Jan 21 '14 at 14:09

Dr Stern says none of their test subjects survived because they were not getting the Myostatin primer. Dr Stern doesnt seem like someone who got a few human test subjects killed. So we can assume he had Bruce's Blood tested on lab rats.

Bruce was seen worried when he heard Dr Stern had his blood tested on Test Subjects, because he feared the next step would be to test it on humans or Dr Stern himself.

We can also see Dr Stern's reluctance when Emil Blonski asked him to inject in him Bruce's cultured blood. He did succumb only when Blonski threatened to kill him.

  • Well said- when Blonski asks Stern to inject him with the sample, Stern hesitates because he has never experimented on human subjects, and there are unknown risks involved in a human trial. He agrees after Blonski gives "informed consent". He did not, and would not have, tested the substances on human subjects before this point. It was simply too dangerous, so no one in their right mind would agree to such an experiment, and Stern is an ethical man, so he wouldn't perform such tests on humans against their will. Blonski isn't in his right mind, and insists, so the experiment goes ahead. – Wad Cheber Jun 10 '15 at 21:56

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