Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for Avengers: Endgame.
The Hulk's (Mark Ruffalo) arc in Avengers: Infinity War was supposed to pan out similarly to how it did in Avengers: Endgame, writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely reveal. After opening up with a brutal battle sequence with Thanos, the green-rage monster was nowhere to be seen throughout the entire third Avengers film, leaving Bruce Banner on his own to contribute in the ongoing fight. This stuck until the very end of the film, despite trailers revealing the Hulk during the Wakanda action set piece. Instead, he was forced to used Tony Stark's (Robert Downey Jr.) Hulkbuster instead to help his fellow heroes. But it wasn't initially supposed to shake out that way.
After his disappearance at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Hulk emerged in Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok, and was living the gladiator life in Sakaar being the Grandmaster's (Jeff Goldblum) unbeatable champion. That was until Thor roped him in to help defeat Hela and save the Asgardians. Ruffalo previously said that the threequel would start a three-film arc for his Marvel character, so everyone was understandably confused when the Hulk barely showed up in Infinity War. But it was setting up his major comeback in Endgame, although the film had to take that five-year jump before fans saw the promise of Professor Hulk come to fruition. As it turns out, the amalgamation of Hulk and Banner wasn't supposed to take that long to come about, as it was planned to reach fruition toward the end of Infinity War.
Speaking with The New York Times, Markus and McFeely, who were tasked to culminate MCU's The Infinity Saga alongside directors Joe and Anthony Russo, reveal how they developed Hulk's arc in the twin Avengers sequel. The writing duo shares that Professor Hulk almost made an appearance in Infinity War, but they felt like it didn't bode well with the overall tone of the film at that point so they decided to save it for the sequel, resulting in the sudden reveal during Endgame and hilarious banter with Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd).
MARKUS: There was a time when Banner became Smart Hulk in the first movie. It was a lot of fun, but it came at the wrong moment. It was an up, right when everyone else was down.McFEELY: It happened in Wakanda. His arc was designed like, I’m not getting along with the Hulk, the Hulk won’t come out. And then they compromise and become Smart Hulk.MARKUS: We were like, but he’s Smart Hulk in the next movie. So that diner scene [in “Endgame”], was like, O.K., how do we smash right into that without scenes of him in a lab, gene-splicing?McFEELY: Oh, I wrote scenes in a lab. Now it’s just him eating pancakes and I think it generally works.MARKUS: The whole thing rides on Rudd going, “I’m so confused.”
This explains the existence of the tie-in pieces of merchandise that showed the Hulk busting out of the Hulkbuster, not to mention concept art that confirms him to be more present in Infinity War. This was always going to be the trajectory for him, but the writers only delayed it until Endgame. Frankly, it was initially jarring to see the carefree version of the Hulk. While it played for laughs, it was difficult to relate him to the Banner that fans initially met in The Avengers. But at the same time, considering everything that he's gone through over the last few years, MCU needed to do something drastic with the character. And in hindsight, this creative move makes his future with the franchise much more interesting.
One wonders if Marvel Studios has any intention of showing how Banner brought his and the Hulk's personality together. He spoke a bit about it in the Avengers: Endgame diner scene, but it was so quick that he didn't really get into the specifics. With five years having passed without fans knowing what exactly was he was up to, it might be a great narrative opening for Kevin Feige and his team. And even if they don't explore that specific time setting, they can do so much more with the character now moving forward.
Source: The New York Times
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