|“||No, I figured this out before I ever changed. But now I really get it. Hulk is every part of yourself you don't let out. The ugly truth any decent human tries to hide. I'm a soldier. Was. My whole career was about acknowledging that side and letting it do what only it could. To survive. To kill.||„|
|~ Thunderbolt Ross.|
|“||Fight smart! Fight the fights you can win! Don't pick a fight beyond your power grade! Don't think of it as a fighting of friend or an X-Man... think of it as saving the world! Put you opponent down because they will do likewise! If we are not successful the world won't exist tomorrow! Be successful!||„|
|~ Thunderbolt Ross.|
General Thaddeus E. Ross, also known as Thunderbolt Ross, and later known as the Red Hulk, is a fictional character and villain turned anti-hero in Marvel comics, appearing as an antagonist turned hero in the Hulk comics and other media. He was originally one of Hulk's nemesis, but he later became one of the Avengers and helps some of the heroes some times, but is still an on and off character.
He is high-ranking military officer and father of Betty Ross who goes after Dr. Bruce Banner after the latter transforms into the Hulk. With Banner going on the run, Thunderbolt Ross went to extreme measures to bring him into military custody for their own purposes. Ross would transform himself into the "Red Hulk" in order to battle against Banner, but found himself becoming what he swore to destroy, and decided to reform to protect the world.
He was created by the late Stan Lee and the late Jack Kirby, and first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #1 in May of 1962.
Ross is a General in the Air Force who is in charge of Bruce Banner's aka the Hulk gamma bomb project. His daughter, Betty, takes a liking to the young scientist, a fact which only enhances the dislike the rough Ross has for the "weakling" scientist Banner. After Banner's transformation into the Hulk, Ross spends years chasing the monster, becoming obsessed enough with it to commit treason by allying himself with the Leader, M.O.D.O.K., and the Abomination in order to destroy the Hulk.
Dishonorably discharged, he shows up at Betty and Bruce's wedding with a gun, and shoots Rick Jones. He is recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Clay Quartermain to merge with the electric creature Zzzax, a process that gives Ross superpowers, but also makes him mentally unstable. He is later restored to human form but retains some residual energy-generating powers. This makes him a different Hulk than normal.
Clash with the Eternals
While fighting a genetically engineered Hydra created by Zero/One, Rulk was being watched by the Eternals to know what to make of him, a heroic being or an enemy. After the battle was over, Sersi who was on site asked about what was going on, however, Red Hulk could see she was not a human and thought she was a spy sent by Zero/one.
Thaddeus E. Ross was born during the 1940s in New Hampshire to Alexander and Elizabeth Ross, and was born into the Ross family that had a renowned history in the United States military. During his youth, Thaddeus barely saw his father unless he told him stories of valor, and spent his time with his aunt Betsy and uncle-by-marriage, Jeff Mace. When he reached the age of thirteen, Thaddeus took interest in flying and started taking lessons, and also befriended Franklin Storm, who would become the father of Susan and Johnny Storm.
Once at the appropriate age, Thaddeus joined the United States Military and graduated from West Point, and was stationed stateside under the command of Captain Lee. Ross would befriend the captain's daughter, Karen Lee, whom he would begin a romantic relationship with. Ross was later sent to the South Pacific to battle against the enemy, and earned the nickname "Thunderbolt" for his ability to "strike like thunder". During his time in the South Pacific, Thaddeus earned the rank of major, and was given a desk job for the military while Karen gave birth to his daughter, Betty.
Around this time, Ross encountered Howard Stark, whom recruited him into the Stark Seven alongside Dum-Dum Dugan, Jimmy Woo, Nessa the Kitten, and the Bear. Stark hired them to infilitrated Area 52 to acclaim the recorder from the aliens called the Grey's, and later sent to attack the aliens in order to protect his son. After the Stark Seven was dissolved, Ross returned to the military and was sent over to east Asia, and eventually rose to the rank of general. When Karen died of cancer twelve years later, Thaddeus mourned her death and became protective of his daughter, sending her boarding schools since he believed she had no place in the military. In addition, Ross would become a member of Control, a group founded by the military on papers written by Dr. Reed Richards, who worried of threats and wanted to stop them before they began.
General Ross was put in command of Desert Base in New Mexico, where he headed a project by the U.S. Government to create nuclear weapons made of gamma radiation. The government recruited Dr. Bruce Banner to act as the supervisor of the project, and earned the dislike of Ross, who saw Banner as unathletic and didn't represent manhood. His dislike of Banner would increase when Bruce gained the attention of his daughter, as he believed Betty would want to marry a military officer. During one day of testing a gamma bomb, Banner saved the life of civilian Rick Jones who was at the test site, but unbeknownst to Ross, his assistant Igor Starsky was a Russian spy who didn't stop the countdown in hope of eliminating Banner. The bomb went off, giving Banner a huge amount of exposure of gamma radiation, which turned him into a green monster that would be referred to as "the Hulk".
Though Banner managed to keep his dual identity a secret, Ross would learn that the two were the same and put his energy into hunting down the Hulk. Ross enjoyed his hunt for Banner as it meant he didn't have to sit behind a desk, and would pursue the Hulk with the assistance of the military due to the creature causing mass destruction anywhere it went. During his pursuit, Ross would be thwarted by Banner or his alter ego on numerous occasions, but sometimes by superheroes such as the Wasp when dealing with the villain Human Top. Thaddeus would become angered at his failures to capture the Hulk, becoming more determined and obsessed with capturing the man whom he saw as weak. Despite his dislike for Banner, Ross would develop somewhat of a grudging respect for him when he stopped the villains the Leader and Abomination.
As years went by, Ross was given command of the Hulkbusters, a group designed by the government to capture the Hulk and do scientific studies on the radiation in his body. Despite the formation of the Hulkbusters, Banner still evaded the government, causing Ross to go to desperate measures to capture him, an example being making an illegal deal with the Abomination. During this time, Betty would go on to marry Glenn Talbot, something Thaddeus approved of, but his relationship with his daughter would become strained due to his obsession with Banner. The Hulkbusters would fail to capture the Hulk, causing it to be turned into Gamma base to study on how to replicate Banner's survival with radiation, but Ross still continued to go after Bruce. This would lead to Ross suffering from a nervous breakdown due to his obsession, and he was put under the care of Doc Samson while Talbot pursued Banner as he blamed him for Betty divorcing him.
Once he recovered, Ross was still hellbent on getting revenge on the Hulk for causing his nervous breakdown, and wanting to avenge Talbot's death when he battled against Banner. Thaddeus became the adviser for the pentagon on the matters of the Hulk's destruction since the government would give him funding, and went to the extreme measure in committing treason by helping M.O.D.O.K. break out Abomination to defeat the Hulk. The planned failed however, and after Ross admitted his actions out load, Betty overheard and disowned him and reaffirmed her love for Bruce. Feeling guilt and shame, Thaddeus attempted to commit suicide, but decided not to and was later dishonorably discharged for his crimes. Ross suffered a psychotic breakdown and attempted to murder Banner at his and Betty's wedding, but only succeed in injuring Rick Jones and being sent to a hospital.
While in the hospital, Ross was greeted by Clay Quatermain, who had him participate in a experiment to be infused with electricity from the villain Zzazx. The experiment went wrong and Ross's conscious was absorbed into the villain, and overtook Zzzax's own personality in another attempt to kill Banner and Jones, with the latter now being a mutated monster himself. When the general saw Banner protect Betty, he had a change of heart and sacrificed himself by defeating Zzzax, and died in his original body. He was eventually revived by the Leader to be used as a replacement for the Redeemer, but was returned to his normal state by Troyjan's agents.
Becoming Red Hulk
Though Ross originally decided to let the past be, he went back to his old ways when Betty was killed by the Abomination and the Hulk was sent away from Earth by the Illuminati. Suffering from grief and depression due to losing his daughter and no longer having a purpose since Hulk was gone, but would ally himself with M.O.D.O.K. and the Leader as they informed him that Banner would return from his exile to enact revenge. When the Hulk did arrive, Ross worked with the supervillains to stop him, and managed to do so and capture Banner's body to their base. M.O.D.O.K. and the Leader then turned Ross into the Red Hulk by siphoning energy that had taken from the Hulk, giving him similar abilities but with the power to transform back into his human form at will. Now as the Red Hulk, he went on missions for Intelligenica as a life-model decoy was put in his place, and went to Russia where he murdered the Abomination for killing Betty.
Red Hulk continued to serve Intelligenica, but also tried to keep his alter ego from being discovered by the public. When his life-model decoy asked for Banner's help to find out who the Red Hulk was, Ross attacked them to battle Rick Jones, who was knowing going by the codename "A-Bomb". After defeating Jones, Red Hulk went on to fight the Watcher, the Hulk and Thor, and managed to defeat the two on Earth and on the Moon. When returning to San Francisco, he was confronted by the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, but was quickly defeated by an angered Thor. Jones then stopped Thor from killing the Red Hulk, telling the Asgardian that Banner had to defeat him, and Bruce overpowered his enemy when the latter became dizzy. Before they discover his identity, Doc Samson and Ross' decoy arrived and took the Red Hulk, informing him that he was no longer associated with Intelligenica. Ross was nearly captured again by the Lady Liberators, but managed to escape by partnering with Thundra.
Red Hulk continued his rampage on numerous occasions, such as battling the Hulk again when he was a member of the Offenders, and when he took over the White House. During this time, Ross attempted to stop Domino since she saw him transform, but instead encountered the Red She-Hulk, and later learned that it was daughter. Ross was defeated by Banner at the white house, and was imprisoned in a Gamma Base where they removed his energy draining ability, which was later revealed would had stopped him from being able to return to his human form if he continued to use it. Once his sanity was restored, Captain America recruited the Red Hulk to fight against Intelligencia's plan with Scorched Earth, and was later invited to join the Avengers.
Though most of his teammates didn't trust him due to his past actions and not knowing of his true identity, they decided to trust him since Captain America put his faith on him. He would go on to assist the team in fighting against the Hood, and later attempted to stop his former protégé General Fortean from going down the same path he did when he was hunting the Hulk (since Fortean believed the Red Hulk murdered Ross). Red Hulk would go on to earn the respect of the Avengers, and later made allies with Agent Venom, X-23, and Ghost Rider in stopping Blackheart when he unleashed Hell on the Earth.
- In the 2003 film Hulk, he was portrayed by Sam Elliot, who also played The Stranger in The Big Lebowski, and voices Mayor Wild West in Family Guy.
- In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he is portrayed by William Hurt.
- In The Marvel Super Heroes, he was voiced by the late Paul Kligman.
- In the NBC The Incredible Hulk animated series, he was voiced by the late Robert Ridgely.
- In the UPN The Incredible Hulk, he was voiced by the late John Vernon.
- In Iron Man: Armored Adventures, he was voiced by Eric Bauza.
- In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, he was voiced by Keith Ferguson and Fred Tatasciore (who also voiced Nikolai Belinski in the Call of Duty zombie series and Poseidon in God of War) as Red Hulk.
- Tatasciore reprised his voice for the character in Lego Marvel Super Heroes as the Red Hulk.
- In Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., he was voiced by Clancy Brown, who voices Mr. Krabs in the SpongeBob SquarePants franchise.
- In The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, he was voiced by Dave Thomas.
- In Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, he was voiced by Tom Kenny, who voices SpongeBob SquarePants in the titular franchise.
- In Lego Marvel Super Heroes, he was voiced by John DiMaggio, who voices Marcus Fenix in the Gears of War series.
- Ranked 71st on IGN's list of "Greatest Comic Book Villains of All Time".
- Thunderbolt's affiliation of the U.S. Military branch has been inconsistent in the comics, as he has been depicted as a U.S. Army general and a U.S. Air Force lieutenant general.
- He is similar to Venom with the fact that their both evil clones of superheroes and redeem themselves to protect the world.