When you talk about pure strength in Marvel Comics, the two characters that likely pop to mind first are Thanos and the Hulk. The Jade Giant is known as ‘the strongest one there is,’ while The Mad Titan essentially gave him a silly beating in the MCU. So, who won the fights when you square off Thanos and the Hulk in both the MCU and the comics?
Hulk is way stronger than Thanos, as his strength is unlimited as long as he keeps getting angry. However, Thanos basically won almost every single fight against Hulk because he rarely engages him directly with his raw strength, instead opting out to outsmart him and use other abilities that are way superior for Hulk to counter. Thanos won 6 fights with Hulk, with Hulk getting the upper-hand in only a single on.
That being said, we’ve never seen a fight go to the end without either character having a power-up. Also, we’ve never seen Thanos go against the most powerful versions of the Hulk, such as the World Breaker Hulk, but we saw the Hulk go against Thanos, who wielded an Infinity Gauntlet. Let’s go through every one of their fights in the comics and MCU.
Every fight between Thanos and the Hulk (MCU & comics)
1. ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ (2018) – Thanos Won
Let’s get this one out of the way, as everyone knows about this fight. In fact, this is the fight that stirred up the Thanos Vs. Hulk debate in the first place. In ‘Avengers: Infinity War,’ at the very beginning of the film, we see Thanos and the Hulk fight one-on-one for the first (and only) time in the MCU.
Although the Hulk is an absolute powerhouse and has the upper hand for about five seconds of the fight, Thanos’ superior skill and power completely pulverize the Hulk, as The Mad Titan breaks him apart with a meticulous, strategic striking combination that knocks the Green Behemoth out.
His life is saved only because Heimdall summons the Bifrost and sends Banner back to Earth. Thanos won this fight comfortably without even using the Power Stone he already had at his disposal at the moment.
2. ‘Thanos Quest’ #1 – Not a real fight
In this comic, we don’t see Thano as the Hulk squaring off. Instead, The Mad Titan was fighting the Champion, and he noticed that the fight felt much like the fight against the Hulk would feel. It was the first time that Thanos admitted he was avoiding the fight against the Hulk because he knew just how strong the Jade Giant was.
Thanos knew it would be an extremely dangerous fight because the Hulk’s strength was limitless. It wasn’t a fight between the two, per se, but it explained that Thanos, in all his might, knew very well he must not get into a fistfight against the Hulk.
3. ‘Infinity Gauntlet’ #4 – Thanos Won
This particular issue is the classic example of what I’m talking about – Thanos is not a fool to believe he could take the Hulk down in a fistfight. Even if he were to do good, the Hulk would just get angrier and eventually prevail. Ergo, The Mad Titan has to use different methods to emerge victorious.
So he did in ‘Infinity Gauntlet’ #4. The Hulk and Drax the Destroyer attacked Thanos, who already wielded several Infinity Stones. Thanos easily knocked out Draw, while the Hulk was able to deliver a few mighty blows.
That is before The Mad Titan simply used the Reality Stone (or Gem, as they were called in the comics) to alter reality and make the Hulk scared, so he would just turn around and flee. That means Thanos won the fight without even delivering a single blow. Wits over muscles, I guess.
The fight continued in ‘Infinity Gauntlet’ #6, where Thanos slapped the Hulk and Drax to the ground with a single slap, but both got up immediately, ready to fight some more.
4. ‘Thanos’ #14-15 – Thanos Won
This was the absolutely most embarrassing showing for the Hulk against Thanos ever. It was Maestro Hulk against King Thanos, far, far into an alternate Marvel future where Thanos actually won. He first beat the Hulk silly in ‘Thanos’ #14, and then, by ‘Thanos’ #15, The Mad Titan forced the Hulk to be his servant.
Not just his servant, though, but literally his pet dog with a chain around his neck to bite and gnaw on command. Pretty obvious who the winner was here, right?
5. ‘Thanos Vs. Hulk’ #2 – Thanos Won
This particular storyline was actually quite interesting and well-written. Still, the actual fight between the two powerhouses didn’t happen on a physical plane, but rather on a mental plane, in Bruce Banner and the Hulk’s mind.
Thanos infiltrated their mind, and we saw Banner and Hulk separated from one another. Thanos vows to destroy them both, and at first, the Hulk tries to beat Thanos alone. Soon, Banner realizes that they are stronger together, using Hulk’s strength and his brains, so they attack Thanos together.
They manage to deliver a few good blows, but then Thanos states he’s just way more intelligent than both of them – even Banner pales in comparison to The Mad Titan, who was a genius even by Eternal standards. Despite their great efforts, Thanos turns the fight around in the end and proves to be the more powerful individual.
6. Marvel Zombies Vol. 2 #1 – Hulk Won
In this alternate reality, non-canon timeline, the Hulk signed his only clear-cut victory against Thanos. I mean, not just a victory – a literal turn-your-head-into-mush victory. Thanos argues how the Hulk eats for two people, causing supply problems for the group, so the Hulk argues he never ate more than his fair share.
Moments later, the zombie Jade Giant claps his hands, sandwiching Thanos’ head between, completely pulverizing it and saying – there you go, now Hulk can eat for two – himself and Prune Chin. Problem solved!
7. ‘Infinity’ #6 – Thanos Won
This was another classic example of Thanos being more than capable of physically holding his ground against the Hulk but not being foolish to think a fistfight is a good idea. Long story short, he delivered one good blow, sending the Hulk flying through buildings.
However, he knew the Big Greenie would just get angrier and stronger, so instead of waiting for the Hulk to come back for more, he just escaped and let his goons fight against the Hulk instead. One might call it a cowardly move – while someone else might call it a wise choice.
8. ‘Thanos: Infinity Finale’ -Thanos Won
In ‘Thanos: Infinity Finale,’ one might say that The Mad Titan had a clear-cut win. However, the Hulk got up instantly and was ready for more battle.
Essentially, Thanos arrived among the Avengers to ask for their help. Immediately, the Hulk attacked him, but instead of engaging in a fight, Thanos used his laser vision to one-shot Hulk into the ground. Before the Hulk attacked again, he was stopped by the rest of the Avengers, who wanted to hear what Thanos had to say.
Again, The Mad Titan proved his wits were greater than his brute force, and he knew he didn’t have to beat the Hulk at his own game – he just had to beat him with what he was better at. And that’s basically everything but pure physical strength.
9. ‘Mech Strike: Monster Hunters’ #4 – Thanos Won
Last but not least, we get into an alternate reality where Thanos finally becomes stronger than the Hulk – even physically. He gets an enhancement from Doctor Doom, who turns Thanos into a Monster using the Eye of the Kraken, which is essentially dark magic.
As the two fight, Thanos admits that he wasn’t the Hulk’s match in strength before the power-up, but now, he has the upper hand in that department as well.
Thanos vs. Hulk: Who won more fights?
The bottom line is Thanos wins virtually every time that he and the Hulk go one-on-one against each other – not because he is stronger, but because he’s more skilled and more intelligent. The Mad Titan knows he can’t match the Hulk’s physical strength – so why would he even risk getting into a fistfight with the Jade Giant when there are so many other ways to beat him?
Ergo, if the question is, who won (almost) every fight between the two, the answer is Thanos. You’ll get the same answer if you ask who’s smarter or more powerful overall. However, if the question is, who’s physically stronger – even Thanos himself admitted on several occasions that the Hulk has the upper hand in that department.
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