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Gentlemen, release.
~ Thunderbolt Ross

General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross is the central antagonist turned anti-hero in the 2003 Marvel film Hulk.

He is a senior U.S. military general and the father of Elizabeth "Betty" Ross. When he was younger, Ross arrested David Banner and had his son Bruce sent away to live with foster parents, only for Bruce to later study alongside Betty at the Berkeley Lab, leading Ross to suspect about Bruce when he suffers a Gamma Radiation accident.

He was portrayed by Sam Elliott, who also played Avery Markham in Justified.

History

A number of years ago, Ross supervised the experiments of David Banner, who was trying to improve humanity via genetics. However, Ross decided to shut down Banner's research when he found out that the scientist was making dangerous experiments on himself without the government's approval. In a rage, Banner made the whole base explode, forcing Ross and his men to leave.

Years later, Ross has become a general, and he has had a daughter, Betty, who hates him. After many years of silence between the two of them, Thunderbolt Ross contacts his daughter, since he's worried about David's son, Bruce's research. The son, in fact, is starting to work in the same field of his father, and Ross is concerned about it. Betty, anyway, doesn't want to listen to him and leaves, enraged and disappointed.

After Bruce's first transformation into the Hulk, Ross puts Banner under house arrest for security, preventing him from entering his lab. However, after being provoked by both his father and Glenn Talbot, Bruce transforms again and breaks free, injuring several soldiers in the process, so Ross decides to take him into an underground base, in which he keeps him prisoner, for both his and others' security. Betty tries to convince her father that she can help Bruce in controlling the Hulk, but Ross, out of arrogance, blindly believes that he is the same as his father, and does not agree. Later, it is revealed he doesn't have a choice in the matter to let her see Bruce anyway since Talbot has convinced the NSA to give him effective control of Bruce.

Meanwhile, Talbot tries to steal a fragment of Hulk's skin to make research on it, but he only manages to free the brute in the base, which cannot in any way contain it. When the Hulk breaks free, Thunderbolt Ross regains control and leads the military to hunt him down, having secured a National Command Authority Override from the President. But the monster destroys 4 tanks and 2 helicopters, later fleeing to San Francisco. In here, he's calmed down by Betty and the Army can take him in custody once again.

Because of an agreement between Betty and David Banner, the latter is allowed to speak with his son, despite the General's disagreement. After witnessing Bruce counter his own father on the monitor, Ross slowly begins to realize how wrong he was about him. David eventually bites a large cable connected to an incinerator aimed at him and Bruce, so Ross orders one of his men to turn on the machine and kill them both so the situation doesn't get out of hand. This has the opposite effect and David absorbs all the electricity in San Fransisco and David and the Hulk start a massive fight at Pear Lake. Ross watches them and then orders two fighter jets to fire a Gamma Charge Bomb at David's massive energy bubble form, aiding Bruce by putting an end to the battle and causing David to explode.

In the aftermath, Ross thinks Bruce had also died in the explosion and starts regretting his actions towards him. Betty comforts him with a touch on his shoulder. One year later, Ross calls his daughter on the phone and asks her if he and Betty know that Bruce could not have survived the explosion; Betty agrees. Ross says there are rumors that say otherwise about sightings of the Hulk and if Betty, by any chance, sees him, she would call him. Betty disagrees and tells him that she wouldn't have to due to being under surveillance watching her. After hearing her admit that she misses Bruce and loved him, Ross apologizes to her for his stubbornness towards both her and Bruce. Betty then replies, "i know you are", and ends the phone call.

Personality and Goals

While an overall antagonist in the film, Ross believes himself to be acting in the best interests of humanity, protecting people from a dire and indeed unprecedented danger, and acting within the scope of powers granted to him by his chain of command. Thus, he uses as much force as he deems necessary to stop the threat, escalating as the perceived threat increases. He even eventually comes to empathize somewhat with Bruce Banner. His decision to deploy the Gamma Bomb at the climax, which he believed would kill the Hulk as well as the now-superpowered David Banner, was taken reluctantly, and only when all else had failed.

Gallery

Trivia

  • Sam Elliott accepted the role of Thunderbolt Ross without reading the script, being simply too excited to work with Ang Lee. In addition, Elliott researched Hulk comic books for the past.
  • Ross is sometimes thought to be the secondary antagonist of the film. This is untrue, however, as Glenn Talbot had a petty vendetta against Bruce Banner and posed as a worse threat than Ross, who in the end redeemed himself and aided Hulk into defeating David Banner, the main antagonist of the film.
  • Sam Elliott originally desired in reprising the role of Ross again by playing his Marvel Cinematic Universe incarnation in The Incredible Hulk. However, in spite that William Hurt was ultimately cast although Elliott would have loved to do another one, Elliott enjoyed the film and approved Hurt's casting.

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9 Villains | Aardman Villains | Alfred Hitchcock Villains | Amblin Entertainment Villains | Back to the Future Villains | Barbie Villains | Blumhouse Productions Villains | Casper the Friendly Ghost Villains | Child's Play Villains | Cooties Villains | Cornetto Trilogy Villains | Despicable Me Villains | Doom Villains | Doctor Who Villains | Dracula Villains | DreamWorks Villains | Dr. Seuss Villains | Eastrail 177 Trilogy Villains | Fast and the Furious Villains | Frankenstein Villains | Get Out Villains | Halloween Villains | Halloween Horror Nights Villains | Hannibal Villains | Hellboy Villains | House MD Villains | How to Train Your Dragon Villains | Howard the Duck Villains | Hulk Villains | Illumination Villains | Jason Bourne Villains | Johnny English Villains | Jurassic Park Villains | Kick-Ass Villains | King Kong Villains | Kung Fu Panda Villains | Laika Villains | Law & Order Villains | League of Gentlemen Villains | Legendary Entertainment Villains | Madagascar Villains | Mario Villains | Marvel Cinematic Universe Villains | Pacific Rim Villains | Rankin/Bass Villains | Scarface Villains | Scott Pilgrim Villains | She-Ra 2018 Villains | Shrek Villains | Sing Villains | Small Soldiers Villains | Syfy Villains | Tales of Arcadia Villains | Tarantinoverse Villains | The Boss Baby Villains | The Dark Crystal Villains | The Invisible Man Villains | The Mummy Villains | The Nut Job Villains | The Purge Villains | The Secret Life of Pets Villains | Trainspotting Villains | Turbo Villains | Us Villains | VeggieTales Villains | Wallace and Gromit Villains | Warcraft Villains | Woody Woodpecker Villains

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Movies
Hulk (2003): David Banner | Glenn Talbot | Thunderbolt Ross | Gamma Dogs
The Incredible Hulk: Abomination | Strategic Operations Command Center (Thunderbolt Ross) | Samuel Sterns | Tough Guy Leader
Hulk Vs.: Professor Thorton | Deadpool | Lady Deathstrike | Sabretooth | Omega Red | Loki Laufeyson | Hela | Enchantress | Skurge | Surtur | Malekith the Accursed | Valkyrie
Planet Hulk: Red King | Grandmaster | Skrulls
Heroes United: Iron Man and Hulk: Zzzax | Abomination | HYDRA

Television
The Incredible Hulk (1978): Dell Frye | Michael Sutton | Dark David Banner | Wilson Fisk
The Incredible Hulk (1982): The Leader | Doctor Octopus | Thunderbolt Ross | Puppet Master | Glenn Talbot | HYDRA | Spymaster
The Incredible Hulk (1996): The Leader | Abomination | Zzzax | Glenn Talbot | Doctor Doom | Wendigo | Thunderbolt Ross | Absorbing Man | Scimitar | Hybrid
Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.: Agents of C.R.A.S.H. (The Leader, Absorbing Man, Blastaar, Sauron, Titania & Abomination) | Annihilus | The Collector | Ego the Living Planet | Frost Giants (Laufey & Ymir) | Mole Man | Wendigo | Wrecker | Thunderball | Piledriver | Bulldozer | Doctor Doom | Fin Fang Foom | Galactus | Terrax the Tamer | Loki Laufeyson | Malekith the Accursed | Dormammu | Skrulls (Super-Skrull) | Maximus | Medusa | Gorgon | Skaar | Kree (Ronan the Accuser) | Firelord | Null the Living Darkness | High Evolutionary | Pluto | Xemnu | Red Ghost | Maestro | Super-Apes | Dracula | HYDRA (Red Skull) | Supreme Intelligence | Doctor Octopus | Venom | Impossible Man | J. Jonah Jameson

Video Game
The Incredible Hulk (1994): The Leader | Abomination | Absorbing Man | Tyrannus | Rhino
The Incredible Hulk: The Pantheon Saga: Maestro | U-Foes (Vector, Vapor, Ironclad & X-Ray)
Hulk (2003): The Leader | General John Ryker | Madman | Half-Life | Flux | Ravage | Thunderbolt Ross
The Incredible Hulk (2003): The Leader | Abomination | General Ross | Tyrannus | Skurge
The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction: Abomination | Devil Hulk | Thunderbolt Ross
The Incredible Hulk (2008): Abomination | Strategic Operations Command Center (Thunderbolt Ross & Glenn Talbot) | Bi-Beast | Enclave | U-Foes (Vector, Vapor, Ironclad & X-Ray) | Samuel Sterns

See Also
She-Hulk Villains

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