Avengers: Infinity War star Mark Ruffalo said in an interview with Screen Rant that the Hulk's first encounter with Thanos will have a lasting impact on the next two Avengers movies. The Hulk joins forces with Captain America, Iron Man, and the rest of an incredibly deep roster of heroes to battle Josh Brolin's Thanos in Infinity War, which goes wide in just five days on April 27. The "strongest Avenger" has been featured prominently, among others, in trailers and promos for the sequel leading up to its highly anticipated release.
Thanos is easily the biggest threat to humanity - and the universe - that has invaded the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His quest to acquire the Infinity Stones and maximize his world-bending powers will be central to the plot of Infinity War and the as-yet untitled fourth Avengers movie. It would make sense to turn to the Hulk to match Thanos' sheer strength and power. But Ruffalo is hinting at an encounter between the two that will have major, perhaps ominous ramifications on not just the Hulk but the movies as a whole.
Speaking to Screen Rant during the Avengers: Infinity War junket, Ruffalo said the first meeting between The Hulk and Thanos will be a pivotal moment for the movie and its followup, as well as a turning point for Bruce Banner. Here's how he described it:
Well, uh, that's, that's tricky. It definitely has ramifications. He's definitely, he's never met, uh, another opponent quite like that and um, uh, their first encounter sort of a propels what will be, you know, the rest of these next two movies. So, um, and then what ends up happening between Bruce and The Hulk.
It's already known that Banner ends up on Earth to meet Thanos early in Infinity War, somehow finding his way there from Thor's spaceship after the end of Thor: Ragnarok. It's going to be on Banner to convince the quarreling Avengers that they need to unite and fight Thanos together, all while battling his own urges to let The Hulk take over. Banner's "Hulk" side will be impressed by the power of Thanos, whom directors Anthony and Joe Russo confirmed will be stronger than Hulk in Infinity War.
The Russos' admission of Thanos' power over The Hulk isn't exactly surprising, but it presents a potentially volatile moment for Banner and his other side when he first encounters Thanos. The internal conflict between Banner and Hulk will be as crucial to the plot of Infinity War as any narrative thread. It's known that Banner will be The Hulk by the time the climactic battle in Wakanda takes place, but it's unclear how he will get to that point - and whether he'll go back to Banner any time soon.
Questions remain about Banner and the Hulk's overall role in Avengers: Infinity War, especially as it related to the timeline of events. It's unclear how he ends up in Doctor Strange's New York sanctum, and when or how his transformation into the Hulk takes place in Wakanda. But it is clear that the Hulk will sneakily be perhaps the key character in uniting the Avengers against Thanos.
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