|First appearance||Incredible Hulk Vol. 2 #312 (October 1985)|
|Created by||Bill Mantlo
|Full name||Brian David Banner|
Brian Banner is a fictional villain from the Marvel Comics Universe created by Bill Mantlo and Mike Mignola and first appearing in print in late 1985. Brian Banner is the abusive father of Bruce Banner, the Incredible Hulk, and his mistreatment of his own wife and son is a major contributing cause of Bruce's mental illness linked to his Hulk condition.
Fictional character biography
As a child, Brian Banner and his mother were physically and emotionally abused by his father. Brian regarded his father as a monster and believed that he had inherited a "monster gene" from him, and so promised himself that he would never have any children, for fear of bringing another Banner into the world.
In college, Brian meets Rebecca, with whom he falls in love and marries. Brian earns his PhD in physics and finds a job in Los Alamos, New Mexico working for the United States government on a project developing a clean way to create nuclear energy. The stress of his job eventually leads Brian to become an alcoholic and begin to develop anger problems, lashing out at others. While drunk at work one day, Brian accidentally overloads some machinery, causing an explosion that costs him his job. Even though his doctors concluded that the explosion caused him no permanent harm, Brian becomes convinced it affected him on the genetic level.
Despite his vow never to have children, Brian impregnates Rebecca, who gives birth to their only child, Robert Bruce Banner. Brian believes Bruce has inherited both the "monster gene" and genetic defects due to the accident in Los Alamos, so he ignores him completely and attempts to keep Rebecca away from him. He frequently leaves Bruce in the care of the neglectful Nurse Meachum. When Bruce wakes up one Christmas morning and opens a present from his mother, a complex model, he assembles it easily despite his young age. This convinces Brian that his assumptions about Bruce were correct. He beats Bruce and, after she comes to her son's aid, Rebecca as well. After enduring several years of frequent abuse from Brian, Rebecca attempts to escape from him with Bruce. Brian discovers his wife and son packing the car just before their escape, and he smashes Rebecca's head against the pavement, killing her in front of their young son. Brian manages to stop Bruce from testifying against him at his trial for Rebecca's murder, saying that if he did so, he would go to hell. Bruce lies to the courts out of fear, testifying that his father never abused him or Rebecca, stating that his mother tried to run away for no reason. Brian escapes conviction due to lack of evidence, but is later arrested when he drunkenly boasts about beating the law by bullying his son. Brian is imprisoned and later placed in a mental institution.
After fifteen years of confinement, Brian, who is believed fit for reintroduction into society, is released into a reluctant Bruce's care. Living with Bruce causes Brian's delusions to begin again and, on the anniversary of Rebecca's death, Brian and Bruce engage in a verbal and later physical fight at Rebecca's grave on a stormy night. During the fight, Bruce accidentally kills Brian by knocking him headfirst into Rebecca's headstone. Bruce represses the memories of Brian's stay with him and his subsequent death, making himself believe that, as the two of them fought at Rebecca's grave, Brian had simply beat him and left, later being killed by muggers.
Brian's ghost would continue to haunt Bruce's alter-ego, the Hulk, after his death, often appearing to taunt him, stating that Bruce was no better than he himself; villains such as Mentallo, the Red Skull, Devil Hulk, and Guilt Hulk would also use the image of Brian Banner against the Hulk in an attempt to weaken him.
When Bruce Banner and the Hulk are fused back together after the events of Heroes Return, Bruce finds himself in Hell, where he meets several former adversaries, including his father, Brian. Bruce is terrorized by Brian, Leader, and Maestro. He eventually stands up to his father, attacking and strangling him before being returned to Earth by an image of his wife, Betty Ross. Having faced his father, Bruce's haunting by him ceases.
When the Hulk began to suffer from Lou Gehrig's disease, Mr. Fantastic, in order to cure him- based on a cure created by the Leader-, has Brian Banner's corpse exhumed, so as to collect some of his DNA. With the resulting samples, Mr. Fantastic manages to cure the Hulk; Bruce subsequently visits his father's grave and laments his confusion over his feelings for his father, noting the fact that he now owes his life to the man despite his old issues with him.
Recently, Bruce has implied that killing his father wasn't actually an accident, noting during a confrontation with Daken and Wolverine that he has managed to avoid causing any innocent deaths when he is rampaging as the Hulk- save for those occasions when he is under the control or influence of something else-, and suggesting that it is unlikely that he would make such a 'mistake' in his more limited human form. In an indirect manner, Brian's memory also resulted in Bruce stopping his fight with his son Skaar after the Hulk was restored following the final battle with the Intelligencia, Bruce recognising that he couldn't continue the fight with Skaar- regardless of how much either side might 'deserve' to die- without becoming his father all over again.
During the Chaos War storyline, Brian Banner returns from the dead and ends up facing Hulk again alongside Abomination after what happened to the death realms. Brian transforms into creature resembling a mix of the Guilt and Devil Hulks as he does. When Brian tries to kill Rebecca again, Hulk ends up fighting him alongside Skaar. Brian feeds on the Hulk's anger towards him, becoming stronger. It is only when the Hulk's lost love Jarella tells him to remember his love for her that the tide turns. Hulk instead focuses on the positive emotions inspired by the rest of his allies and defeats Brian Banner.
Powers and abilities
Brian Banner has genius-level intellect.
When Brian Banner was resurrected during the Chaos War storyline, Brian Banner gained the ability to turn into a hybrid replica of the Guilt Hulk and the Devil Hulk.
House of M
In the House of M timeline created by the Scarlet Witch, Dr. Brian D. Banner believes Bruce to be a mutant created through the radiation he experimented with and attempts to kill him. He murdered Rebecca when she gets in his way. Before he can harm the young Bruce, Brian is shot to death by the police who arrive at the scene. This is very similar to the scenario involving in the Hulk film (see below).
In other media
- In 1979, the Incredible Hulk television series aired an episode called "Homecoming" featuring Banner's family. John Marley played Banner's father named D.W. Banner in the episode, but his character is otherwise unrelated to the comic-book character created.
- In the 2003 film Hulk, Brian, renamed David Banner (a reference to the television series), appears as the main antagonist in the film and is portrayed by Nick Nolte, and Paul Kersey in the film's prologue and subsequent flashbacks. The character's antagonist name, as stated by Ang Lee, is simply called The Father. In the film, David is a genetics researcher who, in his quest to improve on humanity, experiments on himself; after his wife, Edith Banner gives birth to Bruce, David sees that Bruce is not normal, and feels that he is responsible. He realizes his experiments on himself have affected Bruce, who barely shows emotion and gaining patches of green skin when he is hurt or angered. While attempting to find a cure for Bruce's condition, David has his research shut down by General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross; in his rage over the loss of his work and the hopelessness of Bruce's situation, David destroys his laboratory to prevent the military using the data and tries to murder Bruce (believing that Bruce would mutate out of control). Instead, he accidentally kills Edith when she tries to stop him. Bruce is taken into foster care, with the memories of his mother's death blocked out, and David is confined to a mental institution. Years later, after being released from the institution and after Bruce becomes the Hulk, David, convinced the Hulk to be his "true son", tests the Hulk by sending three "hulk-dogs" to kill Betty Ross. While the Hulk defeats them, David attempts to replicate the Hulk's powers, giving himself Absorbing Man-like abilities. After both he and Bruce are captured by the military, David bites into an electrical wire (referencing to Zzzax), and engages the Hulk in a fight that rages through the sky, on land and into a lake. David takes form of a being composed of stones, and then of lake water. When David attempts to absorb the Hulk's power, he is unable to contain the newly acquired power, causing him to swell into an energy bubble, which is destroyed by General Ross with a Gamma Charge Bomb. Bruce survives the explosion, but David is killed.
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