Stan Lee And Jack Kirby Offered Very Different Stories About How Hulk Came To Be
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When people asked Stan Lee how he thought up the character of the Hulk, he listed two obvious inspirations: Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. From Jekyll and Hyde, he got the scientist who transforms from himself to a more fearsome form. From Frankenstein, he got the monster who isn't really evil but has to lash out to defend himself.
Frankenstein was the more important of the two inspirations, he said. It makes sense: The two famous monsters are both mean, green, and verbally challenged. Just don't think too hard about how the original Frankenstein movie didn't have a green monster. Or how the Hulk also was not originally green. Or how the monster in the Frankenstein book wasn't dumb at all. You can still see the connection.
Now, we have no reason to question Stan Lee if he's the one who invented the Hulk. But if you believe Marvel's Jack Kirby, Lee didn't invent him at all. Lee exaggerated his role in creating just about every Marvel character, says Kirby.
Jack Kirby claims credit for inventing Hulk single-handedly. He tells a story of seeing a car parked over a gutter one day, and a child was in the gutter and unable to get out past the car. It doesn't sound like the kid was in any immediate danger, but his mother was frantic, knowing the child was down there and stuck for the moment. Instead of getting the car to move, she got behind it, bent down, reached under it, and lifted it up.
"She was a short, firm, well-built woman," he explains, someone who did have the physical strength to lever up a car—when pushed to the limit through desperation. He wrote the Hulk as someone who gets that same kind of power through rage. Oh, and he too cites Frankenstein as an influence.
We aren't sure which of the men sounds more credible when saying they came up with the Hulk. Pick whichever story you prefer ... and take anything that creators say with a grain of salt.
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Top image: Marvel