It was important for the Avengers: Infinity War creative team to show Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) acting as the hero without the help of his angry green “other guy” the Hulk.
“This is an arc that makes Banner a hero and not just someone who whines for the Hulk’s help all the time,” director Joe Russo said during the Infinity War commentary as Banner, suited up in the Hulkbuster armor, trades blows with Thanos minion Cull Obsidian.
“Banner has to step up and solve the problem on his own. This puts him and the Hulk in a very interesting position at the end of the movie. As he states there, they clearly have a lot to discuss,” Russo added.
Hulk previously took over as the dominant force in his shared body with Banner as seen in Thor: Ragnarok, where the exiled green goliath acted as a gladiatorial champion on the out-of-the-way planet of Sakaar. Bruce dropped out of a spaceship to force the Hulk into action in the fight against the Fenris Wolf in the battle of Asgard, but come Infinity War, Hulk gets his emerald ass handed to him by Thanos — forcing the creature to refuse to come out and give Banner a much-needed assist in the fight against the Mad Titan’s forces.
“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,” explained writer Stephen McFeely. “Banner having to rely on himself is essentially the briefest one line arc in this movie.”
Russo revealed this trajectory for Banner and the Hulk was birthed out of how to best “move [Banner] forward in the Marvel universe.”
“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,” Russo said.
“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?’ So, the relationship is becoming increasingly dysfunctional and that’s what’s going on here,” Russo added.1comments
Because the Hulk can’t lead his own franchise — Universal Pictures, who distributed 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, retains the right to distribute any solo Hulk movie produced by Disney-owned Marvel Studios — the character has had an ongoing story arc weaved through ensemble films, playing out most recently through Ragnarok, Infinity War and Avengers 4.
Avengers: Infinity War is available to own on 4K UHD and Blu-ray Aug. 14. Avengers 4 opens May 3, 2019.