A Marvel fan theorizes Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) in Avengers: Endgame will adopt the Professor Hulk persona by way of a time-travel encounter with the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton).
Posting to Reddit’s r/FanTheories, user StripplefitzParty points to a sequence in 2016’s Doctor Strange where the titular sorcerer (Benedict Cumberbatch) is sent on a trippy “astral joy ride.”
[Avengers: Endgame] Bruce Banner to Transform into Prof. Hulk via the Ancient One's Help from r/FanTheories
Adopting the oft-circulated theory Earth’s mightiest heroes will utilize time travel via the Quantum Realm to undo the devastating effects Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) snap had on the universe, the user theorizes Banner will travel back to a time before Strange became Sorcerer Supreme — resulting in an encounter with the centuries-old former Masters of the Mystics Arts leader.
Banner will then undergo “magical therapy” that binds Hulk’s two spiritual forms together, allowing Banner and Hulk to merge into one as Professor Hulk: a combined form of the two possessing Hulk’s body but Banner’s mental prowess.
Internet users began to suspect Banner will debut as Professor Hulk after a new look at Hulk’s Endgame costume appeared to show Banner, in Hulk form, looking more refined than past iterations of the character.
A basis for such “spiritual therapy” lies in the comics, which have previously examined the multiple personalities lying dormant in Banner’s consciousness.
1986’s Incredible Hulk #315 saw Banner physically separated from the Hulk — the latter left a mindless husk of a monster fueled only by rage — while 1990’s Incredible Hulk #376 peered into Banner’s mind, which acted as an astral battlefield between Banner, the green Hulk, and a gray Hulk.
Ruffalo may have hinted he shares scenes with the Ancient One in a November 2017 interview, where he mentioned he enjoyed working with Swinton in a recent but unnamed project. A January 2019 toy leak may have supported the spoiler after a collectibles company debuted listings for a set of Endgame figures that includes Doctor Strange, Wong (Benedict Wong), and the Ancient One.
Avengers directors Anthony and Joe Russo previously teased “a lot of unexpected characters” in Endgame, similar to the surprise reappearance of the Red Skull (played by Ross Marquand) in Avengers: Infinity War.
“There are more surprises packed into this film than any of the others. Part of that is character interactions, new interesting characters, characters that have made small appearances that are really getting fleshed out in this film,” Joe Russo said. “A lot of people enjoy the experience, so I don’t want to give anything away, but certainly you can expect lots of surprises.”
Avengers: Endgame releases April 26th.
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