The manhunt was issued shortly following an incident at Culver, which triggered in Banner the first transformation of Hulk during experiments involving gamma radiation and the Super Soldier Serum. The search was spearheaded by Thaddeus Ross, who was determined to capture Banner as a means to dissect Hulk and weaponize the transformation process. Deemed a fugitive by the United States Army and S.H.I.E.L.D., Banner traveled around the world in order to elude Ross' troops, disappearing whenever they tracked him down, before disappearing for at least five months after an incident on October 21, 2006, and for months again following an incident in South America.
In May of 2010, Banner resurfaced in Rio de Janeiro after Ross connected a gamma poisoning incident to the soft drink bottling factory where Banner was working. After learning that his assets failed to capture Banner, a desperate Ross re-activated the enhancement project, using Emil Blonsky as a test subject. Following a destructive clash at Culver University in Virginia, Banner was captured at Grayburn College in New York City. A sudden turn of events, however, resulted in Ross releasing Banner in order to fight Blonsky, who had mutated into the Abomination. Banner successfully defeated Blonsky before being allowed to escape by Ross, who later brought the manhunt to an end.
- "Let me emphasize that what I'm about to share with you is tremendously sensitive, both to me personally and the Army. You're aware that we've got an Infantry Weapons Development programme. Well, in WWII, they initiated a subprogram for Bio-Tech Force Enhancement."
"Yeah, Super Soldier."
- ―Thaddeus Ross and Emil Blonsky[src]
Following the September 11 attacks, General Thaddeus Ross started the Bio-Tech Force Enhancement Project in an attempt to recreate Project Rebirth, a government program issued during World War II that was designed to create "super soldiers" to fight the Axis Powers. The project initially struggled, as it was killed by the United States Congress after the public learned that the military was using captured terrorists as test subjects.
Ross' daughter Betty, a professor at Culver University, convinced her boyfriend and colleague Bruce Banner to join the project. Both were unaware, however, that Ross was keeping his true intentions private by making them believe the project's goal was radiation resistance.
Culver University Incident
- "Banner's work was very early phase. It wasn’t even weapons application. He thought he was working on radiation resistance. I would never have told him what the project really was. But he was so sure of what he was onto, that he tested it on himself. And something went very wrong. Or it went very right. As far as I'm concerned, that man’s whole body is property of the US Army."
- ―Thaddeus Ross[src]
By April of 2005, Banner had grown confident to the point where he decided to test the formula upon himself. But the imperfect serum, combined with Betty Ross' primer, and an almost lethal amount of Gamma Radiation, caused Banner to turn into a green-skinned creature that would become known as Hulk. Following the transformation, the Hulk became violent, and then killed a military officer that opened fire on him by throwing him through a door. The Hulk embarked on a rampage that resulted in the deaths of two other scientists. Ross, meanwhile, sustained minor injuries while Betty and several graduate students were sent to the hospital.
The Manhunt Begins
Fascinated by Hulk, Ross tried convincing Banner to unleash the bestial creature so the Army could experiment on it. Banner, however, was unable to deal with what he had done to Betty and fled from the discussion. When Ross attempted to bring him in through physical force, Banner escaped by disguising himself as a janitor. After discovering that Banner had escaped, Ross deemed him a fugitive and set out to capture him.
The Worldwide Manhunt
When Bruce Banner went on the run after departing Culver University, Lieutenant General Thaddeus Ross rallied the Strategic Operations Command Center to lead the hunting parties for Banner. As the manhunt progressed, Ross was supported by, and kept in contact with various assets in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the counter-terrorism agency S.H.I.E.L.D., led by Director Nick Fury. During the manhunt, the United States Army had filed in a requisition for Sonic Cannons from Stark Industries, which was approved for use.
Between the incident and his initial run period, Banner remained in contact with a friend, Culver University student Rick Jones. Banner even protected Jones by throwing him in a trench during an incident. The United States Army and S.H.I.E.L.D. watched Jones' movements in case he contacted and helped Banner.
Green Sasquatch Sighting
The military located Banner in the Idaho and the North-South Dakota area. Later, Banner was located near the American-Canadian border, inciting yet another interaction with the Strategic Operations Command Center, which had triggered another Hulk incident.
In the aftermath of what was supposedly a massive conflict between Hulk and the state troopers, a newspaper article investigating the event confirmed an interview with local resident Elliot Litton, who had witnessed the attack, and dubbed Hulk as a "Green Sasquatch". Although there were no other witnesses, local law enforcement had taken Litton's claims seriously.
Bruce Banner was in North America and went to Kirby's to watch a soccer game, while Nick Fury sat down next to him, hoping to learn about the super soldier that Thaddeus Ross claims Banner to be. Fury claimed to not believe it possible for soccer to become popular in the United States of America, due to it being too calm of a sport, and Banner said that that was why he liked it. Fury tried to buy Banner a drink, but Banner turned down the offer. They continue to talk and Banner starts suspecting that something is amiss and asks about Fury's injured eye, Banner asked about how Fury lost his eye, and Fury said he lost it during a war. Afraid of being caught by the military, Banner tried to leave Kirby's, but was stopped by S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Johnson flirting with him. Agent Peterson then pretended to be Johnson's angry boyfriend, threatening Banner, who pleaded with Peterson to stop. Banner turned into the Hulk and threw Peterson to the side, to Fury's astonishment, and picking up a jukebox that he wants to throw at the rest of the people in the bar. Fury then stands before Hulk, saying he doesn't believe that the guy he just talked to wants to hurt these people. Hulk shouts from anger in Fury's face, breaking all surrounding glass and bottles. But Fury stands his ground and Hulk leaves by smashing through the bar's door and wall.
Bruce Banner sought to leave the United States of America in order to evade Thaddeus Ross. Banner hid in a freight truck which was driving to the United States-Quebec, Canada border. During inspections, Banner was found by the Border Patrol officers, who learned that he was wanted in Virginia for tearing down Culver University. Now being arrested and scared, Banner rid himself of his handcuffs by transforming into Hulk and threw a rampage on the highway, throwing the truck away in the process in a furious rage. Hulk had collapsed a border highway and left a massive trail of wreckage in his wake. On the scene of the wreckage after Hulk fled, Ross recovered Banner's shattered watch.
On February 7, 2006, Banner attempted to make contact with his former colleague Betty Ross, who he hadn't seen since his first transformation at Culver University. However, the military intercepted his e-mail and in turn, Ross never received it.
Banner, who has grown incredibly sick of being hunted by Ross traveled to Alaska to commit suicide alone in the desolate, snowy landscape where no one could find him, in hopes of finally ending the worldwide chase for him.
When he had opened his revolver in the vast, icy, uninhabited area and placed it in his mouth, it triggered his transformation into Hulk, who spit out the bullet. Hulk then shattered the landscape in a fit of rage - the event was captured via satellite. Shortly after, Hulk then transformed back into his human form. This was the last sighting of Banner for nearly five months.
The South American Jungle
Banner settled in the South American continent and while wandering in the jungles of South America, he found a lost child named Miguel who was the son of a man among those of a terrorist cartel. Banner aided him to the closest village, which was indeed Miguel's home, but unfortunately for Banner, who was oblivious that the village was run by criminals was attacked by the terrorists.
The leader of the arms dealers, Espinoza confronted Banner himself under the belief that he was a spy working for the United States Government, while in reality he was that of the contrary. Espinoza began yelling at Banner, ferociously beating him in order to find out which government he was working for. Banner tried to warn Espinoza to not make him angry, but the criminal shrugged it off and taunted him. Banner then underwent a fit of furious rage as Hulk and laid the village to waste.
An American three-man team, led by Emil Blonsky and consisting of Bill Mantlo and Greg Pak was searching for Espinoza and while walking through the jungle, they witnessed glimpses of the rampage, including an explosion and a jeep thrown near them. Arriving at the destroyed village, Blonsky found Espinoza and the criminals all dead and Miguel alone still awake. Miguel, despite not being a fluent English speaker told Blonsky of the events and the "American" who helped him. Ross was bewildered by the events, marking that the manhunt wasn't over.
On the Run Again
Banner, on the other hand, was working as a factory worker which bottled Pingo Doce sodas and settled in the Rocinha favela slums. Banner proved useful in the community and befriended some of his co-workers, including Martina. However, because he was American, some of his co-workers, including the Tough Guy Leader targeted and bullied him because of his ethnicity. In Brazil, he established a hideout in the slums of Rocinha and made contact with an anonymous individual who went by Mr. Blue. Despite his efforts in pursuing exotic flowers, he could not succeed in creating an antidote for his condition.
Milwaukee Gamma Poisoning
While working at the Pingo Doce bottling factory, Banner had accidentally cut his finger. Not wanting to be exposed, he had checked the bottles and found a drop of his blood next to them. He wiped it off and assumed himself to be safe. However, he didn't see a second drop of his blood fall into one of the glass bottles, which later was mixed in with the soda and shipped to the United States of America.
The bottle ended up in a household in Milwaukee. An elderly man drank the bottle and became fell ill from gamma sickness after drinking the soda. This report was brought to the Pentagon and Kathleen Sparr gave the report to Thaddeus Ross. He had ordered his men to look for a white male in the bottling factory, absolutely positive that the man responsible was Banner.
At the Fort Johnson installation in Everglades, Florida, Thaddeus Ross grouped up the field members of the Strategic Operations Command Center, including Emil Blonsky, who was on loan from the Royal Marines. The team took a plane to Brazil.
The night of the ambush, Banner sensed the SOCC team, led by Blonsky chasing after him. He then got out of his bed and rappelled down to Martina's house, who lived directly below him. While Blonsky and the SOCC team blew charges to his door and tranquilized "Banner", they found that he already escaped - a pillow, pajamas and a wig was in place to make it look as if he was sleeping. Blonsky downed Banner's dog, Ricky, and the team concluded that he was already out of the house. Thinking that they were gone, Banner thanked Martina and fled.
On the ground, Banner spotted Blonsky and slowly walked away, but the SOCC field team noticed him and gave chase. They chased him throughout the Rocinha slums, through a basketball court, and down the streets, later going through various homes: Banner made it with his heart-rate rising, and ultimately had lost two of the members of the field team. Banner encountered Ross, who was hidden securely in a van with Sparr and more SOCC assets.
While running from the team chasing after him, he accidentally ran into a gang of men, chief among them was his xenophobic co-worker. The gang attempted to attack him, but Banner temporarily downed them as he made his escape to the bottling factory, with both the SOCC field team and the Brazilian gang after him. Banner made it into the factory, with both groups chasing him. Blonsky, who had separated from the SOCC group noticed Banner going into the factory and led the remaining team inside.
Despite Banner's efforts, the Brazilian gang made it to him first and beat him inside the factory, throwing away his backpack containing his laptop and placing him in a hold for his co-worker to taunt and beat him. Banner then noticed the SOCC field team taking their positions, and glanced at his watch worriedly, as it was close to hitting 200 beats per minute. Banner tried to warn the gang of what was going to occur, but they shrugged it off as just another idle taunt. Blonsky fired a tranquilizer, but accidentally hit one of the members of the gang. Banner's heart rate hit two hundred BPM and then began to transform into Hulk.
The xenophobic co-worker kicked Banner while he was transforming, severely injuring his foot. Hulk dragged him away before throwing him screaming through two glass windows into a wall, killing him. This startled the remaining people in the group as they ran away. However, Banner got ahold of one of them and killed him, while the last one escaped. Blonsky and the SOCC soldiers shot at Hulk, but their ammunition did little to nothing to his near-impenetrable skin. When one of the soldiers threw a grenade at him, he pushed a tank full of soda at two of the soldiers, killing them. With only Blonsky surviving, he shot at Hulk, but he retaliated by throwing a forklift truck, much to his horror. Hulk then escaped the factory, not to be seen again.
At Banner's home, Blonsky argued at Ross about the existence of Hulk and it's immense destructive potential. In the forests of Guatemala, Banner transformed back into his human form and with the help of a passerby, Banner got a lift to the next town.
In a desperate effort to capture Hulk, restoring faith in the mission now that he had resurfaced in Brazil, Thaddeus Ross introduced Emil Blonsky to the Bio-Tech Force Enhancement Project and revealed that it was also a version of Project Rebirth, which had amped the physical skills of Steve Rogers into the heroic Captain America. Ross promised Blonsky that he could replicate the results of Project Rebirth by injecting Blonsky with the Super Soldier Serum. Although the process was painful, the injections granted Blonsky superior strength, speed and durability in comparison to his Strategic Operations Command Center comrades.
After travelling to Chiapas, Mexico, living as a homeless man on the streets, Banner finally muddled up enough money to purchase new clothing and a way back to the United States of America seventeen days after his previous transformation into Hulk. Banner took up a job at a pizza parlor belonging to an old acquaintance of his, Stanley Lieber. He used a guise as a pizza delivery boy to sneak into Culver University in Virginia in an attempt to further his research in finding a cure. Unfortunately for Banner, the information regarding the Bio-Tech Force Enhancement Project had been deleted. When Banner planned to leave the pizzeria, Betty found him and took him under her care. She revealed that she had data concerning the transformation and gave it to him.
Betty Ross's boyfriend, Leonard Samson, suspicious of Betty harboring Banner tipped off Thaddeus Ross of his location. Ross, Major Kathleen Sparr and multiple United States Army soldiers took their positions around the campus of Culver University, where Banner and Ross were spotted en route to a bus terminal. Banner noticed one of the soldiers slipping into position, and it was then that he told Betty to run away from him. Multiple US Army Humvees drove into the campus, and Betty went against Banner's orders in an attempt to stop the soldiers chasing Banner into Culver. While hiding, Banner forced himself to gulp down the data drive in the case that he would be caught.
Banner was trapped by two army troops inside an overpass connecting the two buildings he was in. Ross ordered Banner to be smoked out with two smoke grenades, and it was then that his pulse began rising rapidly, triggering another Hulk transformation. Hulk busted out of the overpass, and fought the US Army battalion.
Capture of Bruce Banner
A day following the Battle at Culver University, Banner and Betty escaped to New York City to meet Samuel Sterns, who went by "Mr. Blue" when collaborating with Banner without using anything that would trace the United States Army to their location. The three conducted an experiment to create the antidote that Banner had been longing for in Grayburn College.
Thaddeus Ross and his team, however, knew of "Mr. Blue" and later realized that Sterns was Banner's contact in Brazil. With that provided, they traced him to New York City at Grayburn College. Ross, Kathleen Sparr and their field team, led by Emil Blonsky traveled to New York City to apprehend Banner.
All of a sudden, Blonsky marched in and knocked down Betty before grabbing and slapping Banner by the face and angrily confronting him in an attempt to unleash Hulk. However, his efforts were a failure, as he was already injected with the antidote. When a military soldier came in to stop Blonsky's rage, he knocked out Banner with blunt force.
Banner, who was recovering from the concussion he had received was then taken outside on a stretcher outside Grayburn College. Ross confronted him outside the building, threatening that if Hulk was really gone that he would place him away in prison for the rest of his life. Banner and Betty were taken into a cargo helicopter.
Following Banner's capture, Kathleen Sparr interrogated Samuel Sterns about Hulk. Sterns told her that duplicating Hulk was practically impossible, since what had occurred in 2005 was only a freak accident. A furious Emil Blonsky, hungry for power that equaled Hulk, knocked out Sparr and forced Sterns to comply with his demands.
When Sterns had undergone the transfusion procedure with Banner's blood, and it transformed Blonsky into a monstrous creature that Sterns had named the Abomination. Blonsky fled the lab, wreaking havoc on the streets of Harlem with his newfound powers. Thaddeus Ross reluctantly allowed Banner to fight the Abomination as Hulk upon realizing that Blonsky was the monster running rampant. In a major duel between the two forces, Hulk had emerged victorious. For his heroic actions, including saving both Betty and General Ross, Hulk fled from the scene, and the manhunt was called off, as Ross believed that Hulk's power was never meant to be controlled and was too dangerous.
During the Duel of Harlem, Sterns, who was injured back at his laboratory was accidentally injected with Banner's blood through an open wound on his forehead, causing him to go insane as well. Natasha Romanoff, who was sent there by Nick Fury found Sterns, who was prophesying of his vivid, tyrannical future. However, Sterns' insanity was short-lived, as Romanoff shot Sterns when he had attempted to embroil her in his plots and took him into S.H.I.E.L.D.'s custody.
Ross on the other hand went to a bar to get drunk, frustrated by the 5-year-long manhunt going to waste. He was consulted by Tony Stark, who expressed interest in recruiting Blonsky for the Avengers Initiative. However, Stark's attitude enraged Ross, who refused to hand Blonsky over to S.H.I.E.L.D.. This was in fact S.H.I.E.L.D.'s plan the entire time, with agents Phil Coulson and Jasper Sitwell intentionally sending Stark over knowing that Ross would not transfer custody of Blonsky, whom S.H.I.E.L.D. did not want on the Avengers roster.
Banner relocated to Canada in British Columbia to control his transformations through meditations. By 2012, Banner's travels had led him to a secluded life in Kolkata, India, where he worked as a clinical doctor, helping the poor and managing to avoid a transformation for over a year. Banner was recruited into S.H.I.E.L.D. by Natasha Romanoff on orders of Nick Fury as part of the Avengers Initiative. Banner fought in the Chitauri Invasion alongside Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Romanoff and later, Clint Barton against Loki and the Chitauri. Their heroic actions granted them international recognition as the Avengers.
In 2016, Thaddeus Ross was promoted to Secretary of State following the Attack on the IFID Headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria, and was a key participant in the Sokovia Accords, which was triggered by, alongside the Lagos incident; The Battle of New York, the Battle at the Triskelion and the Battle of Sokovia.
- The Incredible Hulk: The Big Picture
- The Art of the Avengers timeline
- The Avengers Prelude: Fury's Big Week
- Tony Stark's file from a deleted scene from The Avengers
- Marvel Studios Visual Dictionary
- The Incredible Hulk Movie Novelization
- The Incredible Hulk
- The Avengers
- The Incredible Hulk: The Fury Files
- The Incredible Hulk Deleted Scene
- Captain America: The First Avenger
- The Avengers Prelude: Fury's Big Week
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 1.13: T.R.A.C.K.S.
- Marvel One-Shot: The Consultant
- WHIH Newsfront Exclusive: President Ellis Discusses the Avengers
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Captain America: Civil War