With Avengers: Infinity War out in cinemas for a week now, it’s time to start reading between the lines of what could follow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe future. WARNING! The following will contain spoilers for Infinity War.
In the build-up to Infinity War, the movies have offered a decent balance with regards to the Hulk and Bruce Banner. In Avengers, Bruce was the predominant figure, whereas in Thor: Ragnarok, it was Hulk that featured more. Although it may lean in favour of one over the other, they both featured heavily in the films, this wasn’t the case for Infinity War.
Hulk appeared right at the start of the movie where he goes head to head in battle with Thanos; up until that moment, Hulk had never lost a fight, but that all changed when Thanos beat him, with ease. This was the only time the Hulk actually featured in the film, as Bruce Banner (Played by Mark Ruffalo) spent the majority of the movie trying to persuade the Hulk to come out and aid the fight, to no avail.
There has been speculation that as a result of the Hulk losing to Thanos, he is actually too afraid to come out and fight; this would sound like the ideal scenario for Banner as his actions in the previous Avenger’s films suggest he has always wanted to find a way to contain the Hulk, as he continues to grow stronger and become uncontrollable. The one time Bruce decides he actually needs the Hulk, the hero is nowhere to be seen, leaving Bruce in a difficult position.
As Bruce in his human form doesn’t offer much with regards to hand to hand combat, he was left to rely on a piece of Tony Stark’s equipment that he is extremely familiar with, the Hulkbuster armour. In Age of Ultron, Stark uses this suit against the Hulk and now Banner used it to help his fellow Avengers during the battle of Wakanda.
so where does that leave Bruce/Hulk? During the press tour for Thor: Ragnarok, Mark Ruffalo mentioned that he had a discussion with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige to look at the future of the Hulk which resulted in the reveal of a three-part story arc. The arc started with Ragnarok, continued in Infinity War and looks set to finish in Avengers 4.
Hulk’s journey throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a rollercoaster ride. From the Avengers right up until Infinity War, Bruce Banner and the Hulk have seen multiple events unfold, different villains attempting to destroy or take over the galaxy, new planets being explored, as well as new alliances and relationships, but one of the hardest relationships that have been explored is their own.
Avengers & Avengers 2: Age of Ultron
In the first Avengers, Banner seemed to have a firm grasp of the Hulk, but when we meet him in Age of Ultron, his struggle is more psychological.
As Scarlet Witch was introduced in the film, she managed to get inside the heads of the Avengers, forcing them to do things or scaring them enough to make them surrender. Wanda is able to get inside his head and force him to lay waste to a South African city. When he finally comes to and realizes the harm he’s caused, he realizes that there might be no power on Earth that could stop him.
In an attempt to destroy the world and failing to destroy humanity, artificial intelligence bot ‘Ultron’ attempts to escape in one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s quinjets until the Hulk leaps off the ground, lands on the ship and launches Ultron out the back of the craft, where he meets his doom at the hands of Scarlet Witch.
After Ultron’s death, Hulk is seen sitting in the quinjet with the autopilot on while Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) speak to him via a video message, she asks Bruce to take the jet out of stealth mode so that he can be tracked and picked up in the near future but the Hulk turns off the tracker leaving his whereabouts unknown
Eventually, Marvel Studios landed on the idea of adding the Hulk to Ragnarok and sending Thor to space. Two years had passed since the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron when Thor finally reunited with the Hulk on Sakaar; while Thor was busy hunting Infinity Stones and getting into trouble in the cosmos, the Hulk found a new home as the champion gladiator of Sakaar.
The storyline of Hulk/Bruce Banner is different from many of the other Avengers in the respect that he doesn’t want to be super, he just wants to do good, but with the Hulk building it’s rage inside him, it’s more challenging than Bruce would like. It’s fair to say the Hulk and Bruce Banner don’t have the best of relationships, but could Avengers 4 be the time that they work together for the greater good?