Warning: SPOILERS for the She-Hulk: Attorney at Law episode “A Normal Amount of Rage” are ahead! If you haven’t seen it yet, tread cautiously or feel free to read one of CinemaBlend’s other MCU-related articles.
Following Bruce Banner and Hulk ending up on the outs in Avengers: Infinity War after that brawl with Thanos, Avengers: Endgame saw these two halves merging into one being. During the five-year gap between Thanos’ snap and the Mad Titan’s genocide being undone, Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce found a way to combine his intelligence and personality with Hulk’s physique, and Smart Hulk was born! However, when Bruce cameoed in the Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings mid-credits scene almost a full year ago, instead of appearing as Smart Hulk, he looked like a normal human again. Well, good new, Marvel fans, the first episode of Disney+'s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law not only provided an explanation for why Bruce reverted to being a human, it also delved into why he's back to being Smart Hulk.
The origin story portion of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law’s premiere episode, “A Normal Amount of Rage,” began with showing Bruce Banner on a road trip with his cousin, Jennifer Walters, played by Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany. Shortly before Jennifer shared her theory that Steve Rogers died a virgin, followed by the two getting caught in a car crash when a Sakaaran space ship suddenly appeared in front of them (yes, this ties into the overall She-Hulk narrative), Bruce was talking about how he created a device to keep himself in human form as a way to heal his arm, which was injured in Avengers: Endgame when he used the Infinity Stones procured from the Time Heist to bring back the people who Thanos turned to dust. Bruce was going over this simply because Jennifer had asked what he’d been up to, but hey, we Marvel Cinematic Universe fans appreciate the explanation!
When we met Smart Hulk in Avengers: Endgame, it appeared as though Bruce Banner was permanently stuck in this form, which is why it was so surprising when he looked like a human while appearing over hologram (with his arm still in a sling) with Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings to analyze the title artifacts. At the time, some of my theories about why Bruce was back to being human included Doctor Strange and Wong magically transforming Bruce or that this was some kind of holographic disguise, but my first guess ended up being accurate, in that this was pulled off with the power of science. Infinity War and Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo may have said that Hulk’s arm damage would be permanent, but evidently the creative minds at Marvel Studios felt differently and decided to take steps to undo that scorching, which brings us to how Smart Hulk reentered the picture.
Upon emerging from the car crash mentioned earlier, Jennifer Walters cut her arm, and unfortunately, the human Bruce Banner was bleeding. Bruce tried to warn his cousin to stay away from him, but some of his blood dripped into her open wound, triggering her transformation into She-Hulk. Bruce eventually retrieved Jennifer and brought her back to his place in Mexico where he integrated the Hulk and Banner identities during The Blip. Because Jennifer blacked out during her first She-Hulk moments, Bruce caught her up to speed on what had happened to her, which included explaining how he used her blood, which now synthesizes gamma radiation in a special way, to completely heal his arm. Given that Bruce's arms device was blinking after the car crash, it appears that it was either partially or completely damaged, thus explaining why he reverted to Hulk form. The good news is that it wit his arm now fully fixed, he was free to be his “fully integrated self again.”
So our time hanging out with human Bruce Banner is over once again, although that’s not to say he couldn’t return someday. Maybe Smart Hulk will be badly injured again down the line, requiring him to return to being a human for another spell to accelerate the healing process. However, that device will not work for Jennifer Walters, with Bruce telling his cousin that it’s a “prototype” calibrated specifically for him. Unlike Bruce though, Jennifer is still able to switch between her human and Hulk selves naturally, as well as has the benefit of retaining her personality when she’s in She-Hulk form. So between all that, plus having a better handle on her anger, Jennifer is off to a much smoother start as She-Hulk compared to Bruce’s early years as Hulk.
While the first episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law was Hulk-heavy, it’s unclear if we’ll be seeing more of Mark Ruffalo’s character for the remainder of the season. Jennifer Walters certainly isn’t lacking in opportunities to cross over with familiar Marvel characters, as we’ll be soon be seeing her interact with Tim Roth’s Emil Blonsky/Abomination, Benedict Wong’s Wong and Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock/Daredevil (who’s now wearing a different costume). First and foremost though, this is a She-Hulk show, and we need to see her be able to handle threats on her own. Fortunately, she was able to easily defeat Jameela Jamil’s Titania at the end of this episode, so this shouldn’t be an issue. Still, my fingers are crossed that we get a proper She-Hulk/Smart Hulk team-up before She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is over.
New episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law drop Thursdays to Disney+ subscribers, and per Mark Ruffalo, evidently we’ll be seeing Jennifer Walters after the series is over in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and maybe even Avengers: Secret Wars. Our guides of upcoming Marvel movies and upcoming Marvel TV shows are readily available for fans to look through and learn what other MCU stories are on the way. This includes Black Panther: Wakanda Forever debuting in theaters on November 11, as well as The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and the untitled Marvel Halloween special (which is expected to introduce Werwolf by Night) also hitting the Mouse House's streaming service.
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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