Bruce Banner’s Hulk Situation in Avengers: Endgame Explained

Avengers: Endgame reveals Professor Hulk, one half Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), one half Hulk.

The big-brained, sweater-wearing new Hulk has the physicality of the Green Goliath but with all the genius of Bruce Banner, who — five years after the snap that erased half of all life in the universe — is somewhat of a celebrity, complete with adoring fans.

When visited by Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), who seek an intellect capable of cracking time travel after retired family man Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) declines, Banner — who never reverts to his puny human form — explains he stopped looking at the Hulk as a disease, and instead looked at the other guy as “the cure.”

After 18 months in a gamma lab, Banner meshed the two body-sharing personalities together, resulting in “Professor Hulk.” Or as Banner calls it, “The best of both worlds.”

Banner was suspected to transform into the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s spin on Professor Hulk when a group shot photo surfaced in February, showing Hulk with an all-new suit and more refined and distinctive features belonging to Banner. The development comes after Banner spent the preceding Avengers: Infinity War warring with the Hulk, who refused to come out and solve Banner’s puny problems after his defeat at the hands of Thanos (Josh Brolin).

“People speculated whether there was some fear on the Hulk’s part about having to face Thanos again but I think ultimately what it is is that he’s tired of playing hero to Bruce Banner,” director Joe Russo explains on the Infinity War commentary track.

Added co-writer Stephen McFeely, “With a movie with 23 named heroes that you know from other movies, one of the challenges is to give people the briefest complete arc. Banner has to rely on himself is essentially the briefest one line arc in this movie.”

“What makes him unique as a character is that there’s a host body that is being fought over by two distinct personalities who hate each other. Both want control of the host body. We thought an interesting direction to take him in is, ‘Well, what if Banner, who typically uses the Hulk to solve crisis situations, what if the Hulk were no longer interested in solving those problems for Banner?’” Russo said. “So, the relationship is becoming increasingly dysfunctional and that’s what’s going on here.”

Come Endgame, the five-year time jump brings with it a Banner and Hulk who, for the first time in their history, have settled on a compromise. The story completes the arc put into motion with Thor: Ragnarok and told over Infinity War and Endgame, bringing to a close this three-movie character arc Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige once said very much tracks together by design.

Avengers: Endgame is now playing.

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