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The Science Behind How Hulk Keeps His Pants On

When Stan Lee started writing Marvel comics, the scribe didn’t put much thought into things. They just happened. Henceforth, his stories were more towards the fantasy side of things, rather than science fiction. Even though many of his characters were scientists. But to be science fiction, details need to be backed by scientific facts. However, comic book writers who came along later actually added scientific facts to Stan Lee’s explanations, therefore deeming them science fiction. One such item is the matter of Hulk’s pants. Why does every other item of clothing rip off him when he transforms – yet, he keeps the pants that were once on the ninety-pound Bruce Banner?

Simply put, Hulk couldn’t run around completely naked. Nowadays, Batman can show his piece. But when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the Hulk, there was such thing as the Comics Code. Since the Hulk was created in 1962, and throughout almost sixty years, fans were given plenty of time to think about things. So Screen Rant compiled the many explanations behind Hulk’s pants throughout his history in the comics and movies.

  • In one interview, Stan Lee said that Reed Richards designed Hulk’s pants. It was of the same material from Mister Fantastic’s uniform. The unstable molecule fabric could stretch with the Fantastic Four leader’s powers. Therefore, it could stretch when Hulk transformed. Though later, Lee admitted that he really didn’t know how Hulk kept his pants on.
  • In 2003’s Hulk starring Eric Bana, Hulk grew the angrier he got. Eventually, he grew large enough that his sweat pants finally tore off. So the military built him a pare of his iconic purple pants. And in a comic book sequel to the movie, Banner would wear those purple pants underneath his clothes like many superheroes do with their uniforms.
  • In 2008’s Incredible Hulk with Edward Norton, he buys a large, stretchy pair of pants that were intended for a heavyset woman. And there’s a reference to the purple pants that Liv Tyler’s Betty Ross buys for him. Though, this Banner refuses to wear those.
  • And when Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk came along, he just came equipped with pants. There was no on-screen explanation for these. But they were probably designed by Tony Stark.
  • Back to the comics, there was another Hulk. Banner’s cousin, Jennifer Walters was bombarded by Gamma radiation. The MCU will finally introduce She-Hulk in her own Disney Plus show. She explains that her clothes are protected by the “Comic Code Authority.” Thus, giving a tongue-in-cheek explanation.
  • A fan once explained the purple pants in the letters pages. This won him one of Lee’s famous “No-Prizes.” The Gamma radiation would alter the dye in his pants when he transformed. This would explain that when the other Hulks transformed, they didn’t have purple pants. The great thing about Hulk is that his different personalities are portrayed by different Hulks. Note how Joe Fixit’s Grey Hulk and the Immortal Hulk created by Al Ewing do not wear purple pants. Therefore, just a certain radiation, such as the one that turns him into the dumb brute that is the green hulk, would allow for the purple dye.
  • In flashback stories where Banner was in college, there was a notion to his purple pants. Via inspiration from Albert Einstein, he just bought ten identical, purple pants.

Whatever explanation you subscribe to, remember that these are just pants. You may like Stan Lee’s whimsical fantasy way of writing. Or you may prefer the more scientific stories that perhaps Peter David wrote. And there’s the horror stories from Al Ewing that didn’t even bother with such explanations, as there were more important things to address. Either way, Screen Geek has you covered on all things in the wonderful world of Marvel.

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