Doctor Elizabeth "Betty" Ross is a scientist and professor at Culver University, who became infatuated with her colleague Bruce Banner. In 2005, she joined Banner in the Bio-Tech Force Enhancement Project, administering Banner with a primer she developed that allowed him to survive his exposure to gamma radiation and become Hulk. For five years, she was separated from Banner, while her father Thaddeus Ross spearheaded an international manhunt.
In Banner's absence, Ross had begun dating Leonard Samson. In 2010, she became an accomplice of Banner after she was reunited with him in the United States. Together, they went on the run from the Strategic Operations Command Center, until Banner was captured in New York City while consulting Samuel Sterns. During the Duel of Harlem, when Banner was released to fight the Abomination, Ross' life was saved by the Hulk. Afterwards, she and Banner went their own separate ways.
Professor at Culver University
Elizabeth Ross was born the daughter of Thaddeus Ross. Her mother died of unrevealed causes. Later, Ross met Bruce Banner in college, where they fell in love. At Harvard University, both participated in an experiment involving hallucinogenic drugs.
As a response to the September 11 attacks, General Thaddeus Ross commissioned the Bio-Tech Force Enhancement Project, designed to recreate Abraham Erskine's Super Soldier Serum from World War II. Both Ross and Bruce Banner were recruited into the program, although they were not informed of the serum's true purpose, instead of being told that the serum-treated radiation sickness.
While working on the project, Ross developed a myostatic primer that allowed an individual's blood cells to absorb gamma radiation temporarily. Banner, who had substituted the original serum's Vita radiation with gamma radiation, injected himself with both the primer and his replicated serum and increased the dosage in gamma radiation in an effort to impress Thaddeus.
Ross' primer allowed Banner to survive the tremendous amount of radiation he was subjected to, as it allowed Banner's cells to absorb the excess amounts of gamma radiation. However, this caused Banner to transform into a giant, green monster. With no control over the beast, Banner destroyed the lab, attacking Ross and injuring her, and as a result, was hospitalized.
Following her recovery, her father ordered that the data regarding the project was to be deleted, forcing Ross to covertly extract the data and keep it hidden, in the event that Banner would require it someday. While being separated from Banner, Ross moved on and began dating Leonard Samson, one of her colleagues at Culver University.
Bruce Banner's Return
- "Don't go. Don't go. I want you to come with me now. Please."
- ―Betty Ross to Bruce Banner
Bruce Banner eventually returned to Culver University, but not with the intention to meet Ross. She however accidentally saw him at a pizzeria owned by Stanley Lieber during a dinner date with Leonard Samson and convinced him to stay the night, giving him a copy of the gamma experiment data that he required.
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The next day before Bruce Banner left, Leonard Samson informed Thaddeus Ross that Banner and Ross had reunited and that they were headed to Culver University. A battle ensued on the university campus which lead to Banner transforming into Hulk. During the battle, Hulk connected with Ross on multiple levels, as he realized that she was the only one without the intention to hurt him. This resulted in his anger increasing when he saw Ross being hassled by the Strategic Operations Command Center.
After Hulk had defeated Thaddeus' forces, including super soldier Emil Blonsky, Ross approached him, being the only one who was not hurt in his presence. When a military gunship arrived and fired at both Hulk and Ross, Hulk shielded her from the gunfire as well as the helicopter's explosion. He then carried her unconscious body to safety, hiding within the Smoky Mountain National Forest.
Aiding Bruce Banner
- "I don't know. In the cave, I really felt like it knew me. Maybe your mind is in there, it's just overcharged and can't process what's happening."
"I don't want to control it. I want to get rid of it."
- ―Betty Ross and Bruce Banner
Upon gaining conscience, she connected with Hulk, with Hulk demonstrating the intent to protect her in the face of the thunder and lightning of a nearby storm. Ross calmed him, sitting beside him and holding his hand. Due to his calmed condition, Hulk changed back to Banner overnight.
Later, the pair stayed at a motel for some time, where Ross wished to have sex with Banner, but he refused, citing that his heart rate would get too high if he became excited, triggering his transformation into Hulk. After procuring him with some clothes and leaving every traceable possession behind, Ross sold her mother’s last remembrance, a necklace, to help the pair to travel to Grayburn College in Harlem, New York City, and meet Samuel Sterns, a close ally of Banner under the moniker "Mr. Blue". However, Thaddeus Ross had hacked the S.H.I.E.L.D. database to track all communication between Banner and Sterns and discovered Sterns' location.
Upon arriving in Harlem, Ross and Banner met with Sterns who tested his experimental antidote on him. During his transformed state, Hulk was at the verge of losing control and destroying the laboratory, only to be calmed by Ross, who managed to prevent Hulk's thrashing long enough for Sterns to administer the antidote, allowing Banner to briefly control the Hulk before reverting back to his human form.
- "It's okay."
- ―Betty Ross and Hulk
However, soon after, the Strategic Operations Command Center intervened, arresting Banner and taking the pair back into custody. On their way back to base, the soldiers reported that Hulk had been spotted in the streets. Thaddeus Ross, Banner, and Ross realized that it was a transformed Emil Blonsky. Banner requested that Thaddeus let him attempt to stop him, to which the general grudgingly complied.
A battle between Hulk and Abomination ensured throughout the streets of Harlem, where Abomination was able to best Hulk, causing Banner to briefly regain control. As Abomination pinned Hulk and informed him that he would kill Ross, Hulk regained control and managed to defeat Abomination, while also saving both the Rosses from an explosion. Hulk prepared to strangle Abomination to death but elected to spare his life upon Ross' pleading. She and Hulk shared a brief moment together, in which he spoke her name and wiped her tear, before fleeing as more authorities arrived.
A Gift from Bruce Banner
While visiting the Statue of Liberty sometime after, Ross began reflecting back on her memories with Banner by looking back at some pictures of him stored on her camera. Thirty-one days later, Banner, now in hiding at Bella Coola, British Columbia, Canada, purchased Ross' necklace from the pawn shop and arranged for it to be mailed back to her under the pseudonym "David B".
Betty Ross is a kind-hearted and gentle individual. She is impressively intelligent, hard-working and resourceful and is shown to be a skillful and charismatic scientist. However, despite her relative happiness, Betty possessed hard relationships with her father Thaddeus Ross. Ross also had a tragic past, as she lost her mother. This was also a tragedy to her father, as well, but they became temporary enemies nonetheless, as Ross had helped Bruce Banner, who was hunted by Thaddeus. It took time for her father to realize his mistakes and finally join and help Banner.
- Gifted Intelligence: Ross is highly intelligent, mainly in the areas of biology and radiation.
- Expert Scientist: Ross is exceptionally skilled in several fields of science, notably successfully teaching a class at Culver University and even helping in the Bio-Tech Force Enhancement Project.
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In chronological order:
- The Incredible Hulk: The Big Picture
- The Incredible Hulk
- Black Widow Prelude (mentioned)
- In the comics, Betty Ross married Glenn Talbot and Bruce Banner, and eventually became Red She-Hulk.
Behind the Scenes
- Betty Ross in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the second live-action incarnation of the character, following an incarnation portrayed by Jennifer Connelly.
- Joss Whedon has said that the reason why the Hulkbuster is named Veronica is a reference to Archie Comics character Veronica Lodge, who is a rival to Betty Cooper: "I just decided to call [the armor] Veronica because [Banner] used to be in love with a girl named Betty and Veronica is the opposite of that."
- Brittney Banks was a stunt double for Liv Tyler in the role of Betty Ross.
- Lenka Matuska was a stand-in for Liv Tyler in the role of Betty Ross.