What role will the Hulk play in Avengers: Endgame? According to Mark Ruffalo, 2017's Thor: Ragnarok was the beginning of a new Hulk trilogy, an ongoing character arc that ran through Avengers: Infinity War and will come to a conclusion in this year's Avengers: Endgame.
Bruce Banner's role in Avengers: Infinity War took fans by surprise. The Hulk took on Thanos himself at the beginning of the film, but was beaten to within an inch of his life by the Mad Titan. That was the last the Jade Giant was really seen at all in Infinity War, refusing to join the fight against the Black Order in New York or participate in the Battle of Wakanda. Many viewers assumed the Hulk was frightened or embarrassed after his defeat by Thanos, but the Russo brothers have insisted that isn't the case. As Joe Russo explained, the two personas in Bruce's body - the Banner identity and the Hulk - are in conflict. It wasn't that the Hulk was afraid of Thanos; it was that he was tired of being seen as Bruce Banner's weapon, let out whenever Bruce wanted to wreak havoc, and otherwise repressed.
So where is this all going in Avengers: Endgame? It's clear this will be an important story for the Hulk, resolving that three-film-long story arc and seeing Bruce Banner and the Hulk find a measure of peace at last. How will it work out? And will it mean the Hulk has a rematch with Thanos?
- This Page: The Professor Hulk Story
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Hulk Properly Comes Out In Avengers: Endgame
Let's start with the most obvious point; the Hulk will indeed come out to play in Avengers: Endgame. It's pretty clear that the Hulk's ongoing story revolves around the conflict between the Bruce Banner and the Hulk identities, and that the two will have to find a way to work together if they're going to play their part in averting or undoing the snap. Official artwork has confirmed that the Hulk will be on the front lines with the Avengers once again, while tie-in merchandise has shown the Hulk wearing a new, white uniform. There's strong evidence that Avengers: Endgame is a time travel movie, with the Avengers presumably attempting to undo or avert the snap, and that they're able to travel through time using the Quantum Realm. These white outfits appear to be Quantum Realm environmental suits; if that's the case, it suggests the Hulk will enter the Quantum Realm, and possibly be one of the time travelers.
Bruce Banner Becomes Professor Hulk
The Hulk in the Avengers: Endgame artwork appears very different to the traditional Jade Giant. This is a slimmer Hulk, with a face that appears a little more Banner-like, and one who's comfortable wearing clothes. It looks as though the Bruce Banner and Hulk identities will be forced to merge - an idea lifted straight from the Peter David run in the comics, where they became the so-called "Professor Hulk." This version of the Hulk possessed the razor-sharp mind of Bruce Banner, and the prodigious, impossible strength of the Hulk; he was one of the more dangerous heroes around, as capable of outwitting an opponent as he was of outfighting them.
In truth, this has been pretty effectively signposted through Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War. "Hulk speaking [in Thor: Ragnarok] is the start to separating of these two individuals," Ruffalo explained, "these identities in this split-identity person, and where that's going to end up going." Avengers: Infinity War built on that concept, drawing heavily upon the Peter David run; in fact, some scenes were lifted straight from The Incredible Hulk #376, where the Hulk and Banner personalities waged war with one another. The issue featured staggering scenes in which Bruce reeled, his body rebelling against the change, his hands enlarging and turning green and gray. It also featured extensive dialogue where the personas spoke to one another through Banner's mouth. Both those concepts were faithfully reproduced in Avengers: Infinity War - and in the comics they set the scene for the Hulk and Banner identities to be forced to merge into Professor Hulk in the next issue. There's no reason to believe the same won't be true on the big screen as well.
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- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019