A month before Thor: Ragnarok came out, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feign revealed that the movie would be the first part of a special Hulk trilogy. The big payoff to that arc came in Avengers: Endgame, when Bruce Banner and Hulk were finally merged into one being: Smart Hulk, or Professor Hulk, if you prefer.
However, originally the plan was for this intelligent version of Hulk to surface during Avengers: Infinity War, but it was decided that that movie wasn’t the right time for the transformation to occur. Now Christopher Markus, who co-wrote Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame with Stephen McFeely, has elaborated on the reasoning behind saving Smart Hulk for Endgame, saying:
So had Hulk’s story in Avengers: Infinity War progressed as initially conceived, Bruce Banner and the green monstrosity would have fixed their “communication problems” in the middle of the Battle of Wakanda to deliver a well-deserved beating to Cull Obsidian, the brutish member of Thanos’ Black Order. It sounds cool on paper, but tonally speaking, it just didn’t work for the creative minds.
Instead, Hulk didn’t come out again after his brawl with Thanos at the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War, which directors Joe and Anthony Russo attributed to the Green Goliath getting tired of always having to save Bruce Banner. Fortunately, Banner was still able to defeat Cull Obsidian in Infinity War; he just did it in the Hulkbuster armor.
As for the problem for Smart Hulk already existing at the beginning of Avengers: Endgame during the movie’s main shoot, this was rectified by filming the diner scene during reshoots where Bruce Banner explains to Captain America, Black Widow and Ant-Man how in the five years between The Decimation and the time heist, he worked in the gamma lab for 18 months to fuse the brains and the brawn together, resulting in the birth of Smart Hulk, the best of both worlds.
This decision ultimately paid off in better balancing Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Christopher Markus also added during his panel with Stephen McFeeley at San Diego Comic-Con:
Becoming smart wasn’t the only way Hulk changed during Avengers: Endgame, as his arm was also severely damaged when he channeled the power of the Infinity Stones to bring everyone who was snapped away five years earlier back to life. And yes, that injury is permanent.
While Avengers: Endgame marked the end of one chapter of Hulk’s life and the beginning of another, it remains to be seen if we’ll explore this new chapter further. There are still no plans to give him another solo movie, and it’s hard to say if he could pop up in another hero’s movie like he did in Thor: Ragnarok. Rest assured, we’ll be sure to let you know if/when Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk returns to the big screen.
Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for more updates on what’s happening in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For now, you can learn what the franchise has coming up in our handy guide.
Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.
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