|“||If you're ready to fight, you'd better be ready to kill. Because if you're not going to kill, then you're going to lose.||„|
|~ General Ross|
General Thaddeus E. "Thunderbolt" Ross is a prominent character in the Marvel comic universe, where he is depicted as one of the archenemies of The Hulk. He is a high-ranking military officer (usually as a three-star or four-star general, depending on the continuity) for either the U.S. Army or U.S. Air Force (again, depending on the continuity) and was the head of the Gamma Bomb Project that resulted in Dr. Bruce Banner becoming the Hulk in the first place. He is also the father of Elizabeth "Betty" Ross, who is Banner/Hulk's main love interest.
After the creation of the Hulk, Ross pursues the creature with a growing obsession, and after learning that Banner and the Hulk are one and the same, Ross hunts Banner as well. Later, he becomes Red Hulk in order to better combat the Green Goliath.
In addition to appearing in the comics, various cartoon, and various video games, Ross has appeared in the films Hulk (2003) and The Incredible Hulk (2008) as well as in Captain America: Civil War (2016), portrayed by Sam Elliott and William Hurt, respectively. He is ranked 71st on IGN's list of Greatest Comic Book Villains of All Time.
Ross is a General in the Air Force who is in charge of Bruce Banner's 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.
Finally, a mutant who drains people of their life energy attacks Gamma Base in search for a strong host, in this case the Hulk. After witnessing Rick Jones (who was the Hulk at that time) and Banner heroically engaging the mutant, Ross, realizing that he has been wrong about the Hulk being a mindless monster, saves his daughter from being slain by allowing the mutant to latch onto him, and discharging the energy resources he retained from Zzzax. Giving his blessing to Bruce and Betty, he dies in his daughter's arms.
Ross' body is later stolen by the Leader, who uses the powers of one of his followers to resurrect Ross. He turns him into a mindless replacement for his fallen soldier Redeemer. Ross is eventually recovered and revived by agents of the alien Troyjan, and returns to the Air Force. He would later come up with a more cost-effective method of confronting the Hulk when he is in his childlike stage: active non-resistance. He and his men simply do not fire on or engage the Hulk in any way. The Hulk, confused, does not smash and leaps away.
Ross would make friends with Banner, but when Betty is seemingly killed due to what both Ross and Banner believed to have been Banner's gamma-irradiated DNA interacting with hers, he once more pursues the Hulk with a vendetta.
Around this time, General Ryker takes over the pursuit of the Hulk. Ross is indirectly involved, observing when Ryker mentally tortures Banner to try to figure out how the Hulk works. The Hulk escapes from Ryker's control and after several adventures, is lost in space.
After the Hulk returns from exile and initiates "World War Hulk", General Ross, now wearing the stars of a full general, makes his own return, electing to bring the fight to his nemesis once more after Iron Man is felled by the Goliath. After a failed assault on the Hulk, Ross and his men are captured and placed in chains under the watch of Hulk's Warbound, the army he has brought back from space. The Hulk is eventually defeated via satellite weapons that fire upon him, reverting him to human form.
In Other Appearances
- Main article: Thunderbolt Ross (Hulk)
Marvel Cinematic Universe
- Main article: Thunderbolt Ross (Marvel Cinematic Universe)
Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes
- Main article: Red Hulk (Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes)