Avengers: Endgame has come and gone, rocked the box office, and smashed all the records. While the film provides a conclusion for many of our favorite heroes, it also leaves some things up in the air. That includes the future of Bruce Banner, aka Professor Hulk. Where his/their story arc goes next is truly a mystery. The ending of the film left me with many questions about Smart/Professor Hulk.
Will Bruce’s Arm Heal?
It has been hinted that Bruce may not recover from his injuries acquired by snapping his fingers and bringing half the universe back to life in Endgame. However, if he was able to mesh his Hulk body and Banner personality in a gamma lab in 18 months, I’m pretty sure he can get that arm healed up. If not, perhaps another genius such as Shuri or Helen Cho (mother of Amadeus Cho, a major Hulk character). Part of Hulk’s power set is that he can heal, too, which may help in the long run.
Is He Still An Avenger?
Last time we saw him, he was transporting Cap back through time to return the six Infinity Stones. This was Steve’s scene, so we didn’t get a big closing scene for Bruce. Before Ant-Man had that crazy idea to use the Quantum Realm to time travel, Bruce was just hanging out at IHOP eating 30 pancakes. It is unclear whether or not he was still doing any superheroing at the time. It seemed like he was retired like Tony and Thor. So, did he recede back into retirement after the job was done and he injured his arm, or is he gonna heal it up and jump back into action? After all, there are plenty of Hulk- related storied left to be told in the MCU.
What Happened To The “Hulk” Personality?
Many fans of the incredible Hulk were a tad less than satisfied with the Russo Bros’ treatment of the character, understandably so. He showed up for about 30 second of screen time in Infinity War before being beaten back into Banner by Thanos. In Endgame, Hulk doesn’t show up at all, rather Banner in Hulk’s body. The change was very sudden and took many by surprise, especially given how much the Bruce/Hulk dynamic has been built up recently. When Banner put his consciousness into the body of the Hulk, Hulk’s consciousness had to go somewhere, right? Perhaps he has been suppressed deep into Banner’s subconscious, and is waiting to be set loose. If Banner/Smart Hulk were to be killed, could this unleash the old Hulk again? Maybe this could be an opportunity for us to get grey Hulk.
Hulk- The Next Big Marvel Villain?
While the Planet Hulk/World War Hulk storyline was touched on in Thor: Ragnarok, we haven’t had an in-depth telling of the story in the MCU. Perhaps, in the near future, that story could be revisited. If Hulk were to return, I’m sure he would be pissed. I would. Imagine being stuck in the “sinking place” from Get Out for 3 1/2+ years. This would be the perfect segue for Hulk to be the next big Avengers villain. I am not sure, however, if Hulk being brought back would also resurrect Banner, as it has in previous films. There are many directions the writers can go here.
While The Incredible Hulk is an often-forgotten part of the MCU, there are still some really important comic book characters in that film that have yet to return. We have seen Thunderbolt Ross a few times, which is always a treat, but the likes of Samuel Sterns, Betty Ross, and Emil Blonsky/the Abomination are still long forgotten. So far. It seems quite likely that Ross will be forming the Thunderbolts team, which will include Blonsky, with Sterns returning as a villain. Pushing Thunderbolt Ross into a main supporting character role may lead to Betty Ross having a small role or making a cameo in the potential project. Once the Abomination and Leader are unleashed on the world, there’s no way we won’t see them take on the Hulk, right? Or perhaps the team breaks away from Ross and becomes the Masters of Evil, facing the Avengers? Sign me up.
A Hulk T.V. Show?
One of the latest rumored MCU-based Disney+ shows involves a Hulk/She-Hulk team-up. I think this is a great idea. However, Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner needs time to shine on his own before Jennifer Walters gets brought in as She-Hulk. As to whether or not the title of this potential show would include both characters’ names, I’m not too sure. I think Hulk should get his own title, as an apology for The Incredible Hulk never getting proper sequels. There are so many Hulk villains that have either not been introduced, or were hinted at just to sit in limbo for 11+ years. Examples of unintroduced Hulk characters that need their due would include She-Hulk (of course), A-Bomb, Absorbing Man (who was wasted on Agents of SHIELD), Thunderbolt Ross as Red Hulk, Zzax, Skaar, Bi-Beast, David Banner…. okay, I’m getting a bit out of hand. But there is plenty of untapped potential from Hulk comics that can be translated to the MCU.
But if the show does put equal focus on both Hulks, I’m totally fine with it. While Hulk is a great character, he needs his own spotlight to shine. However, Jennifer Walters has never been in a live-action film, and introducing a new character, nonetheless a fan-favorite like She-Hulk, would be quite intruiging.
Where do you think Marvel will take Bruce Banner’s story? We really have no idea where he could appear next, as no films past Spider-Man: Far From Home have officially been announced. While we know about a few of Marvel Studios’ next projects, including Black Widow, The Eternals, and Shang-Chi, as well as a few sequels and rumored films, such as New Avengers. It would make since for Bruce to appear in any future Avengers franchise film, but I don’t really see Mark Ruffalo appearing in any of these other films.