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It’s a question that’s been behind many a fanboy argument: which of Marvel’s monstrous superheroes would win in a fight: the Thing from the Fantastic Four or the Hulk? According to Stan Lee, who co-created both characters with Jack Kirby, the answer is obvious.
“Oh, the Hulk would win,” Lee announced during during an appearance on The Tomorrow Show. “The Thing is faster and smarter, so he would probably find a way to turn it into a draw or save himself. He’d trap or trick the Hulk. But, in a fair fight, there’s no way the Hulk [would lose].”
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to those familiar with Lee’s work on the Fantastic Four comic book. During his tenure as the writer of the series that launched Marvel’s comic book universe, he engineered a fight between the two characters on three separate occasions — and each time, showed that Benjamin J. Grimm would come off worse.
The first skirmish between the characters took place in 1963’s Fantastic Four No. 12. Although the two didn’t really get to throw down for very long — one of the drawbacks of having three teammates who require just as much time on-panel as you do — art for the issue shows the Hulk knocking the Thing over with a punch, even if the accompanying caption tries to lessen the Thing’s embarrassment by explaining it away by saying that he was “merely toppled off-balance for a second.”
The rematch would arrive a year later, and spill across two issues. Fantastic Four Nos. 25 and 26 would initially pitch the Thing against the Hulk solo — the rest of the team having been laid up by sickness (Mr. Fantastic), injury (The Human Torch) or sexism (The Invisible Girl) — and would show, unmistakably, that the Hulk was, in his words, the strongest of them all. Only with the assistance of the rest of his team and the Avengers would the Thing be able to bring the Hulk down at the end of the storyline.
If that weren’t enough proof, Lee’s final Fantastic Four clash of these particular titans — 1971’s Fantastic Four No. 112, in a story helpfully titled “Battle of the Behemoths” — saw the Hulk actually kill the Thing at the end of their fight, after the latter’s attention was split by the sound of his girlfriend crying out in pain when hit by flying debris. Thankfully, his death would be undone within pages of the next issue, with the cliffhanger explained away by the Thing simply having such tough skin that it was harder to hear his heartbeat. (No, really.)
With this evidence, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Stan Lee went for the Hulk in this particular matchup. The real question is, who would he favor in a fight between Thor and the Hulk?
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