With Avengers: Endgame still months away pretty much every Marvel fan out there is trying to sort out not just what will happen in the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe film, but even the finest details about their favorite characters and their fates. That means lots and lots of theories.
And when it comes to those theories, we here in the ComicBook.com newsroom aren't immune to our own theories and speculation (we're fans, too!) and that's led us down some interesting paths lately -- such as the notion that Doctor Strange could be wrong. This time, though, our thinking has entered into territory that is truly grim and complex. It's crazy even -- so much so that it might just be possible.
What if, thanks to the snap, Bruce Banner and the Hulk have been split with the Hulk specifically having been turned to ash along half the life in the universe?
On its face that seems like the most ridiculous concept ever. Like, how would that even work? However, despite being on the crazy side if you really think about it it's not entirely impossible. Let's break it down.
For starters, one of the things that the MCU has done a really good job of setting up over the years and the films is that while Hulk and Banner share an existence, they are in many ways two separate beings. This is perhaps at its most obvious in Avengers: Infinity War where Banner is seen directly communicating with his big green alter ego in an attempt to get the Hulk to come out and help fight off Thanos' forces to no avail. This isn't just a situation where Banner tries to shift and can't, either. We actually hear the Hulk flat-out refuse to come out.
It's the Hulk's refusal to come out and smash that is another potential clue that he and Banner are truly individuals. Much has been made about how the Hulk seems downright scared of Thanos in Infinity War. Most everyone has assumed that's because things went badly when he attempted to stop Thanos onboard the Asgardian ship and got soundly beaten up in the process. But what if that is only part of it? What if the Hulk realizes that he and Banner are just separate enough that Thanos' snap could spell the end for one of them? It might be a little bit of a stretch, but realistically the Hulk has spent enough time off Earth and surrounded by those who might have had some experience with a non-Infinity Stone powered Thanos that he could have a sobering understanding of just how big a threat Thanos really is. Considering how childlike Hulk is, hiding from the bad guy might be his best attempt at staying safe.
If all of that is the case -- Hulk and Banner are unique individuals who happen to share one space and Hulk was afraid of Thanos because he knew what was possible -- then we have to consider that snapping either Hulk or Banner out of existence would fit in well with the Mad Titan's concept of bringing "balance" to the universe. After all, if you have two things in one space and you're trying to lighten the load, as it were, you simply get rid of one. Consider it cosmic decluttering at it's most horrific extreme.
Now, if Banner and Hulk have been separated courtesy of the snap, it could make for an interesting story. The remaining Avengers would be at an even further handicap than before which would certainly complicate things. It also could be why we see Banner looking over those listed simply as missing in the Endgame trailer -- characters such as Scott Lang, Shuri, and Peter Parker whose fates weren't necessarily seen by the heroes. Perhaps he's trying to figure out what's become of them as a way to get answers about where the Hulk is, too.
And hey, if the theory that those dusted are in the Soul Stone ends up being correct that means those there also have a Hulk. That could come in handy (as well as potentially give fans a great cinematic moment of Banner meeting the Hulk if the heroes are able to rescue their fallen.)
What do you think? Do you think it's possible that Banner and the Hulk have been split apart entirely thanks to Thanos? Let us know your thoughts on this wild ride of a theory in the comments below.
Avengers: Endgame stars Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Josh Brolin (Thanos), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Brie Larson (Captain Marvel), Danai Gurira (Okoye), Evangeline Lilly (The Wasp), Paul Rudd (Ant-Man), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), Don Cheadle (War Machine), and Bradley Cooper (Rocket Raccoon) amongst others.
Avengers: Endgame hits theaters on April 26th. Other upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movies include Captain Marvel on March 8th, 2019 and Spider-Man: Far From Home on July 5th.