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For eight years in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, moviegoers have watched Bruce Banner struggle with his darker and monstrous half, The Hulk. While the character has served as a modern day Jekyll and Hyde to comic book readers for decades, people are getting to see his story finally being told over many movies. The next chapter of this story is Thor: Ragnarok, and new comments from Mark Ruffalo point to the Bruce Banner and Hulk's personalities going head to head come next year.
While journeying across the Nine Realms with the God of Thunder in Thor: Ragnarok, Ruffalo discussed with Collider the arc Bruce Banner is dealing with regarding his relationship with The Hulk and how that's going to resolve itself. He explained:
No one's really gone in that place. I mean, he's always been running from him or trying to deny it, but they're coming for a collision course with each other, and I think that can be pretty exciting if we can figure out a way to do it multi-dimensionally.
The concept of the Bruce Banner and Hulk's personalities clashing has been done before in the comics, but it's relatively new territory for the movies. In The Incredible Hulk, Banner was desperate to find a cure for his "condition." By The Avengers, he seemed to have made peace with his dual nature and simply did his best to contain it. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, he continued to use Hulk as a weapon for good, but after he was traumatized by Scarlet Witch's mental control, he later fled from Black Widow and his allies during the climactic battle against Ultron to keep them safe. It sounds like when we reunite with him in Thor: Ragnarok, the two sides will finally battle with each other, something that's been years in the making, both in the real world and within the MCU.
While it remains to be seen exactly how this "collision" occurs, Mark Ruffalo mentioned earlier this year that the third Thor installment may see the personalities merging, leading to Hulk's intelligence increasing. This doesn't guarantee that Hulk will be a genius like Banner, but it would definitely shake things up and move him past being a rage monster who has brief moments of calmness. Although there isn't a new Hulk movie coming anytime soon, Ruffalo has also said that Thor: Ragnarok works well with both Avengers: Infinity War movies as a "standalone Hulk story," so fans will see this character progression continue over the following two years. All this, along with Thor: Ragnarok rumored to include a backdoor Planet Hulk adaptation, means that the Green Goliath will have plenty of time to develop internally and wreak havoc on his enemies.
Hulk will jump back into action when Thor: Ragnarok is released on November 3, 2017.