Batman once beat the Hulk – in the craziest way possible. Let’s face it, if there’s one thing comic book readers love, it’s a versus match. By now, it’s become a tradition that superheroes trade blows before any team-up. Batman fans are particularly keen to see the Dark Knight go up against other heroes, usually arguing Batman can beat anybody with sufficient prep time.
Speaking at the JusticeCon event, Cyborg actor Ray Fisher admitted he grew up as one of those comic book fans. He recalled being an 11-year-old who argued Batman could take anybody, and amusingly enough he proved his point with the example of Wolverine. Fisher actually dreamed up a way Batman could actually take Wolverine down with ease – simply by using a giant magnet. It was a refreshingly simple yet tremendously creative idea, and it no doubt delighted people watching the panel. But Fisher also opined that Batman could beat the Hulk – which seems a far more unlikely prospect.
Incredibly, though, Batman has actually successfully defeated the Hulk. Back in 1981, relations between rival publishers DC and Marvel were in a good way, and the two had yet to come up with the idea their characters existed in different universes. As a result, they occasionally agreed to team-ups, and one of the more amusing was in DC Special Series #27. Written by the late Len Wein and with art by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, this saw Batman stumble upon a rampaging Hulk. Tricked by the Joker into considering Batman an enemy, Hulk rounded upon the Dark Knight, who did everything he could to avoid the Jade Giant’s blows. At one point it all seemed to be over when the Hulk got Batman in a bear-hug, but Batman startled him into letting him go, and finally came upon a winning strategy. He dropped a pellet of knockout gas, and then winded the Hulk, forcing him to breathe it in.
It’s a hilarious strategy, and it surely raised a few eyebrows. Of course, in reality the victory was – as is usually the case in comics – purely for plot purposes. It can be explained away by arguing the old principle “The madder Hulk gets, the stronger he gets.” Presumably the Hulk just wasn’t particularly angry at this time, making him an easier takedown for Batman. Let’s face it, there’s no way that strategy would have worked against Worldbreaker Hulk.
Like any good superhero comic, DC Special Series #27 ultimately saw Batman and the Hulk team up against the Joker and the Shaper of Worlds. In fact, Bruce Wayne even briefly hired Bruce Banner to work on a gamma ray gun, in the hopes it could be used to cure him of the Hulk. Naturally, it didn’t exactly turn out as planned.