Smart Hulk's emergence is one of the most lighthearted, fun moments of Avengers: Endgame, but his actions helped bring back untold numbers who had been claimed by Thanos' snap. Now, some newly surfaced concept art from Ryan Meinerding shows what his arm could have looked like after taking that raw energy from the Stark Gauntlet. After collecting all of the Infinity Stones from the different time periods and plunking them in the magical mitt, it came time to do the deed, and Hulk naturally took the responsibility for himself. Now, after the events of the film, it seems clear that any Hulk stories going forward will be a little bit different because of the injuries he sustained during the film. That arm pretty much looked like toast during the funeral scenes. There has been much murmuring about what's next for Mark Ruffalo's character, but nothing has been announced yet. But, with Marvel, there is always something just out of view waiting to be unveiled.
Comic book.com had a live Q&A with Joe Russo and he explained the Hulk's process behind the merger.
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Smart Hulk from the final battle of Avengers: Endgame! I did a sequence of images to help figure out how ravaged his arm would be after doing the snap. This was close to the final I turned in. The head on this Hulk concept model was a collaboration between myself and the amazing @ianjoynerart
"We sat in a room and went, 'Let's go one year later. No, no let's go two. No, four! Five! Let's make sure we have enough distance that people can change in that time,'" Russo said. "And now you've sat with it so long that it's become part of who you are as a person. It's not a year later, it's five years later. Families have started, like Robert [Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark]. This is my long-winded way of getting to the Hulk which is Banner reflects over that five year period about 'The two of us have been fighting over this host body for years and we lost because we were fighting. It was selfish of us to fight over the host body.' So the only natural progression forward for someone as intelligent as Banner to resolve the situation is 'Let's merge ourselves. Let's quit fighting over the host body and just merge.'"
Later, Anthony Russo explained to Comicbook.com during San Diego Comic-Con, that loss to Thanos was absolutely necessary. "We wanted to track how every one of the Avengers was moving forward from the experience of Infinity War," Anthony elaborated. "Banner is left with this reality that neither version of himself could stop Thanos. So he dedicates himself to making sure this never happens again. And that is sort of the proper motivation for him to finally figure out how to reconcile the two sides of himself."