In Hulk (2003) when the fighter jet, takes Hulk to the "top of the world" (an altitude of over 95000 feet, and into the beginnings of space, what actually happens to Hulk? He is seen suffocating, his green sheen wears off and he finally collapses mid-way but what is actually happening to him?

  • Did you know: The max altitude of the F-22 (which is the fighter jet in question) is currently 50,000 feet. To see 'space', an aircraft must reach a height of 90,000 feet.
    – Daft
    Apr 1, 2015 at 8:39
  • @daft - actual max or max safe altitude? Note that there may be a difference of 20,000 or more feet between those two figures.
    – Valorum
    Apr 1, 2015 at 11:41
  • 1
    @Richard as was so aptly demonstrated by the Green Lantern movie!
    – KutuluMike
    Apr 1, 2015 at 13:10
  • 2
    I thought the sheen was him freezing rather than changing. Apr 1, 2015 at 15:13
  • When Hulk was actually shot into space in the comics, he returned as a warlord commanding underlings almost as strong as him. He basically took control of earth until the Sentry stops him. See the comic series Planet Hulk and World War Hulk..
    – SK19
    May 7, 2018 at 22:26

2 Answers 2


In reference to the movie, the official novelisation would suggest that he passed out due to a lack of oxygen:

The strategy, developed on the fly, in every sense of the word, by Thunderbolt Ross, was devastatingly simple: Take the Hulk on a ride to the top of the world, and see what some thin air did for him.

The Hulk clung to the plane as it rose up through the clouds. Frost began to cover him, hanging from his hair, his eyebrows. The world started to fade around him. Close to losing consciousness, he stared into the eyes of the pilot through the cockpit’s windshield. The pilot flinched, concerned that the Hulk would abruptly recover and try to tear the wings off his plane. But he needn’t have worried, for the Hulk closed his eyes completely, and as the plane tilted back—having gone as high as it could safely go—the monster slid off.

Note that although the Hulk is able to hold his breath for a considerable amount of time, he doesn't seem to be able to cope with hypoxia...

But all the Angry Man did was glance up disdainfully at the helicopter, and then he took a deep breath and went under again.

Ross remembered the Hulk’s ability to survive on a single breath from the encounter with the gas. The situation wasn’t promising, and Ross was beginning to realize that this wasn’t simply a case of man against man. This was man against a force of nature . . . and unfortunately, in such conflicts, man always came up on the losing end.


Hulk needs to breath, although he's extraordinarily able to keep his breath during long periods of time.

On the event of suffocation, usually victims get unconscious before dying. When Hulk becomes unconscious (or loses enough conscience level) it's unable to maintain it's rage and so it reverts to be Bruce Banner.

  • 3
    In the comics, he does not need an oxygen source, nor does he need to hold his breath.
    – phantom42
    Apr 1, 2015 at 12:56
  • The answer in your comment makes reference to him being able to breathe underwater, not to being able to breathe where there is no oxygen. It states that he can "adapt" to it, but don't link any references. I recall old comics whith him travelling to space (and different dimensions) and having problems to survive on vacuum. Maybe canon had evolved with time, but old Hulk needed to breathe and it can perfectly explain the question.
    – Bardo
    Apr 1, 2015 at 13:02
  • It links to Marvel.com specifically saying he can breathe underwater and links to a scan of a comic saying he can adapt to breathe in space. What more do you want?
    – phantom42
    Apr 1, 2015 at 13:06
  • And since the question is about the movie, not the comics, I'm not at all saying your answer is wrong, or incomplete - just noting that the comics canon doesn't quite match.
    – phantom42
    Apr 1, 2015 at 13:07
  • And Hulk doesn't revert to Banner as he falls in the film, not even a little.
    – Ihor Sypko
    Apr 1, 2015 at 16:49

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