The Incredible Hulk may not ever get another movie all to himself but he – or some version of the super-strong hero – will always be present in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After taking over the role of Dr. Bruce Banner from Edward Norton, Mark Ruffalo signed a lengthy multi-picture contract with Marvel Studios to bring the genius scientist and his angry alter ego (via motion capture) to life and quickly became a fan-favorite.
Like fellow Avengers Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) however, Banner/Hulk is reserved as a supporting character in other, larger movies. And where Widow and Hawkeye are returning next summer in Captain America: Civil War, the Hulk’s next appearance comes the following year in Thor: Ragnarok.
So far in the MCU we’ve seen Banner and Hulk acting as two personalities of one character, with the Avengers team having found a way to calm the beast down using a “lullaby” and building countermeasures to contain the Hulk should something go wrong. That’s where the Veronica weapons platform Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Banner built before the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron came into play, a unit that assembles and supports the “Hulkbuster” armor for Iron Man to wear.
But if you ask Ruffalo, he wants to keep playing the character until he become two characters. Yes, Hulk and Bruce Banner, as two entirely and physically separate beings. He told HuffPost the following when teasing his role in Thor: Ragnarok:
“I play Dr. Bruce Banner, and occasionally I turn into a big green, mean monster… I am excited to keep coming back to this role. I see a lot of space for it to grow. I feel like there’s a lot of cool stuff to explore still, especially the relationship between Banner and Hulk. Hopefully, we’ll see the two of them in a scene together. That would be cool!”
Before you ask, yes, this is possible and has been done more than once in the comics.
So, is that therefore a hint of something to come during the events of Thor: Ragnarok? Will some god-like being or otherworldly magic help Banner free himself of his Hulk alter ego? Could this establish a baseline for new Hulk stories from the comics, and perhaps, the additions of other Hulk characters like Red Hulk?
We’ve discussed at length on the site how characters like Captain America and Thor can continue even without Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth, respectively, and with the idea that Hulk and Banner one day could be two separate beings, we can see a scenario where a future Avengers roster includes a different Hulk entirely.
“I don’t want to overstay my welcome and I hope I never do. If I do, I’ll be the first one to bow out.”