|For alternate versions of Samuel Sterns, see Samuel Sterns' Character Hub|
Doctor Samuel Sterns is a cellular biologist and Grayburn College professor who was finding a cure for Bruce Banner. Sterns managed to engineer a temporary antidote for Banner's condition but was also forced to repeat this process with Emil Blonsky, transforming him into the Abomination. When he was affected by Banner's blood on his head's open wound, his mind suffered a rapid mutation, greatly increasing his mental abilities. However, Natasha Romanoff arrived and subdued him, handing him into S.H.I.E.L.D.'s custody.
Helping Bruce Banner
Samuel Sterns worked as a professor at Grayburn College, teaching in the Department of Cellular Biology. When Bruce Banner went on the run from the United States Army, led by General Thaddeus Ross, he managed to establish contact with Sterns and they communicated with each other as Mr. Blue and Mr. Green, respectively, while collaborating to find a cure for Banner's condition.
When Banner was in Brazil, Sterns suggested to search for flowers, but when they failed to create a plausible antidote, Sterns asked Banner to send him a sample of his blood so he could engineer an antidote for himself. However, Sterns kept his true intentions secret from Banner: Sterns, in fact, had desired to use the antidote to create cures to various illnesses, motivated by the goal to make humans practically immune to any genetic disease. However, Sterns' plan was flawed, as he had underestimated the blood toxicity of Banner's blood.
Meetup at Grayburn College
- "If we get the dosage exactly right, is that going to be a lasting cure, or just some antidote to suppress that specific flare-up? I don't know. What I'm saying is that if we overshoot this by even the smallest integer, we're dealing with concentrations with extraordinary levels of toxicity."
- ―Samuel Sterns to Bruce Banner and Betty Ross[src]
Sterns was walking out of a building on the campus of Grayburn College when he was confronted by Professor Elizabeth Ross of Culver University. Sterns recognized her close to instantly, and she began introducing him to Bruce Banner, who revealed himself to be Mr. Green.
Sterns expressed his excitement to cooperate with Banner and Ross, explaining that he contemplated on if Banner was real and how he could live with Hulk caged inside his body. When Sterns began rambling, Ross and Banner insisted that Sterns stay on task. Sterns explained to Banner that in order for the antidote to work, they need a precise set amount of blood to create the suppressant, or it would not work otherwise.
Engineering an Antidote
- "We have the antidote now!"
"They don't want the antidote, they want to make it a weapon! And if we let it go, we will never get it back. You don't know how powerful this thing is."
"I hate the government just as much as anyone, but you're being a little paranoid, don't you think?"
- ―Samuel Sterns and Bruce Banner[src]
After witnessing Banner transform into Hulk as a test and successfully reverting him back with their finalized suppressant, it was revealed that he had been experimenting with Banner's blood samples on animal test subjects without his knowledge, and also revealed his wishes to utilize his tests towards further scientific research.
Sterns debated with Banner, arguing that their discoveries in regard to the antidote could gain them prestigious awards and attention in the long run, whereas Banner insisted that Sterns didn't fully grasp the full extent of the situation. During their bickering, the Strategic Operations Command Center had been listening in to their argument. After a sniper immobilized Banner, Sterns could only watch in horror as Emil Blonsky apprehended Banner into his custody.
Creating an Abomination
With Banner and Ross were taken into the custody of Thaddeus Ross, only Sterns remained inside the building. Kathleen Sparr interrogated Sterns about his experiments with Banner's blood, but Sterns explained that he couldn't replicate Hulk, even with the mass amount of blood samples he received from Banner. When Sparr began to respond to the revelation that Hulk could not be replicated, Emil Blonsky, who was still inside the building, knocked out Sparr with blunt force.
After the power-hungry Blonsky opened up on his true thoughts on Sparr, he turned a gun on a confused Sterns and threatened him to comply with his demands to inject him with Banner's blood. Sterns opened up on his experiment with Banner, but also noticed that Blonsky had been enhanced already. Blonsky eventually managed to force Sterns to comply by physically threatening him.
Sterns began setting up the procedure and strapped Emil Blonsky to the rest. When Sterns injected the power-hungry Blonsky with Bruce Banner's blood and exposed him to Gamma Radiation, it triggered his own transformation. Despite pleading for him to stay on the rest, Blonsky mutated into a hazel, spiky Abomination. As soon as he embraced his newfound powers, Blonsky threw Sterns onto the floor and trashed the laboratory.
In the confusion, an immobile Sterns was accidentally infected with Banner's blood via an open wound on his forehead. The mutation went wild, as he smiled, his brain began to expand in size while Abomination began a rampage on the streets of Harlem, massacring the NYPD officers and the United States Army soldiers.
Standoff with Black Widow
With his brain still expanded due to his infection, Sterns was found by Black Widow, who asked him if he was Samuel Sterns, to which Sterns responded that perhaps he indeed was once but that now he shall become much more. Sterns then identified Black Widow's birthplace from a hint of an accent in her voice. He attempted to bribe her, promising he would help her return to Stalingrad and share his vision with hers, but Black Widow shot him in the leg and subsequently placed him into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody. Sterns was taken afterwards to a secure location to be studied by S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists in a containment tank. The incident relating to Stern's arrest was later referred to as "Project Mr. Blue". Inside the tank his mutation continued to develop, as his skin turned all green and his head grew even more in size.
- "Look, I've always been more curious than cautious and that's served me pretty well."
- ―Samuel Sterns[src]
Samuel Sterns is shown to be an eccentric and ambitious professor, enthusiastic about his work and the opportunities that are presented to him. However, being more curious than cautious, he doesn't often contemplates the negative consequences of his actions, as evidenced in the debate he had with Bruce Banner after revealing the stockpile of synthesized Gamma-irradiated blood samples. In the same dialogue, he revealed his hatred for the government, displaying his anarchistic side. After being mutated however with Banner's blood, Sterns went mad, beginning to mesmerize himself as a higher being. Before being captured by Black Widow, he sought help in carrying out a megalomaniac plan, befitting his past of craving "Olympian" power, only now with apparently malevolent intentions.
Powers and Abilities
- Superhuman Intelligence: An exposition to Hulk's blood drastically increased Sterns' brainpower to the point where he could identify Black Widow's birthplace of Stalingrad by a slight hint in her accent. However, he was immediately arrested and taken to a high-tech prison.
- Master Scientist: Samuel Sterns helped Bruce Banner when he sought a cure for his transformation into Hulk. He was able to develop a method that could potentially reverse the transformation, by duplicating and testing the limited blood samples that Banner sent him. He was also able to duplicate the transformation process with Emil Blonsky, transforming him into Abomination when Banner's blood was mixed with the Super Soldier Serum that Blonsky already had, a situation that Sterns had already anticipated. After Sterns' mutation, his intellect increased, but he was immediately imprisoned.
- Grayburn College: Sterns used to work in Grayburn College as a professor in the Department of Cellular Biology.
- In the comics, Sterns was not a scientist, but instead was a menial laborer with only average intelligence. He was exposed to Gamma Radiation while he was transporting hazardous materials. He also became the superpowered criminal Leader before Banner became Hulk. Sterns is also one of the leaders of Intelligencia, a group comprised of the smartest villains in the Marvel universe.
- The Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Samuel Sterns bears some resemblance to Philip Sterns, also known as Madman, who was Samuel Sterns' brother in the comics. Both are brilliant scientists who studied gamma radiation and romanticized the concept of Hulk, eventually leading to their receiving gamma-based powers.
- Sterns uses the online name "Mr. Blue" to communicate with Banner. In the comics, Mr. Blue was an alias used by Betty Ross to keep in contact with a fugitive Banner.
Behind the Scenes
- Aaron Sims produced concept art of The Leader for The Incredible Hulk although Samuel Sterns doesn't fully transform into The Leader during the film.
- Director Louis Leterrier introduced Samuel Sterns in The Incredible Hulk with the intention to set him up to become the main antagonist as The Leader in a possible sequel. Tim Blake Nelson even "signed on" to reprise his role in two more films.
- Scotty Cook was a stunt double for Tim Blake Nelson in the role of Samuel Sterns.
- When asked if there are any plans to bring back Samuel Sterns, Kevin Feige replied that there's a possibility as he loves to bring back characters the audience think they have seen the last of.
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