Did an Infinity War toy spoil Hulk's Avengers: Endgame role? While speculation is rife around every single character involved in the two-part finale to Marvel's Infinity Saga, there's been particularly fervent discussion around Bruce Banner and his green alter ego.
After embracing the Hulk side in Thor: Ragnarok, Bruce Banner returned to the fore after an immediate beatdown by Thanos, with the Green Goliath refusing to emerge for the rest of Infinity War. This surprised many fans as Hulk had featured prominently in advertising, including the now infamous fake Wakanda team shot. Merchandise was also proven misleading, with multiple toys showing the Hulk breaking out of Hulkbuster armor. But while these weren't spoilers for Infinity War, one of them may have actually spoiled Hulk's role in Avengers: Endgame.
The Hulk Out Hulkbuster toy from Hasbro for Avengers: Infinity War includes a talking Hulk figure, and while some of his dialogue (via YouTube) is as you'd expect, several lines don't make sense:
- "Hulk smash."
- "Not gonna lie, this feels pretty great."
- "You won't like me when I'm angry."
- "According to my calculations, this is gonna hurt you."
- "I'm still mean and green, smashing you is nothing personal, it's just kind of my thing."
- "I'm the strongest one there is."
- "Wow, this is incredible."
- "Banner smash."
- "OK, that was cool."
What immediately stands out about these quotes isn't just how more eloquent they make Hulk - in Thor: Ragnarok he had the mental development of a young child - but some of the lines are extremely out of character. "According to my calculations", "smashing you is nothing personal", and "Banner smash" just don't fit with any version of Hulk that's been seen in the MCU so far. And that may because the lines aren't from Avengers: Infinity War at all.
While little is known about Hulk's role in Avengers: Endgame - only Bruce Banner has been seen in the trailers, and that's been a rather small role compared to other characters - based on the officially released images of him looking a little more like Mark Ruffalo and wearing a tight-fitting costume, the pervasive theory is that the two personalities will merge to create a third known as Professor Hulk, with the brains of Banner and brawn of Hulk together in one psyche. This is rooted in the Marvel comics - in fact, Banner has many more sides than just the angry Hulk - and would be a fitting culmination to the three-movie story arc Ruffalo has been telling since Thor: Ragnarok.
If that is indeed where the character is heading, then those incongruous soundbites from the Infinity War toy suddenly make a lot more sense: the more mumblecore awkwardness and "calculations" wink is Banner's personality coming through. That they were included a year early could be a sign that merging of Hulks was supposed to happen in the first half of the Thanos story, or a product of how Infinity War and Endgame were produced back-to-back.
Of course, it's worth adding that this could be a coincidence or creative license on the part of Hasbro. Merchandise for blockbuster movies never fully represents the finished product due to being based on early concepts and open to a lot of alterations based on playability, so it's possible these lines are just an accident. We'll have to wait until Avengers: Endgame to find out if "Banner smash" will be the internet's new favorite meme.