Disney’s D23 Expo is in full swing and, unsurprisingly, it has brought some interesting announcements regarding the Mouse House’s forthcoming streaming service, Disney+. Among other things, the studio has announced a bunch of new series from Marvel Studios that will fit into the MCU.
One of those series is She-Hulk, which will revolve around the titular female version of the Hulk. The question is, will Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner have anything to do with it? Should he, in fact? There are points for and against it. Let's take a look at both sides of the argument and see if an appearance from the Hulk we know and love from the MCU would be a good idea.
10 Should appear: In the comics, She-Hulk is his cousin
In the comics, She-Hulk’s real name is Jennifer Walters and she’s a biological cousin of Bruce Banner. Following a nearly deadly shooting incident, Jen is in dire need of a blood transfusion, and the only match who can get to the operating table quick enough is Bruce.
She survives the surgery, but she’s left with his gamma radiation and Hulk-out powers, taking on the mantle of She-Hulk. This is a great origin story,so it should be left intact: which would require Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner to appear.
9 Shouldn’t appear: It would take away from She-Hulk’s story
The upcoming She-Hulk series is just that: a streaming series about the She-Hulk character. If Bruce Banner shows up, it’ll detract from that. The audience won’t really be focusing on She-Hulk’s story if they have a familiar face from the movies popping up every now and then.
The new characters being introduced in the MCU’s Phase 4, like Shang-Chi and the Eternals, are being given their own space to find an audience, separate from the wider universe. That would be the best way to handle She-Hulk’s story, too. As great as Mark Ruffalo is, his familiar presence would distract viewers from the unfamiliar presence of the title character.
8 Should appear: He can help her to understand her powers
For years, Bruce Banner struggled with his gamma radiation. However, now that he’s become “Smart Hulk,” he finally managed to get that radiation under control and understands his powers better than ever. When his cousin becomes She-Hulk, she’ll need some help coming to terms with her new powers and figuring out how to keep the green rage monster inside her in check.
That’s where Banner would step in, to teach her how to keep her cool and maybe give her the same treatment that turned him from an unpredictable Jekyll/Hyde type into Smart Hulk during Avengers: Endgame’s five-year time jump.
7 Shouldn’t appear: There won’t be room for him
Jen Walters is a fascinating character, because when she’s not turning into She-Hulk and wreaking havoc, she’s a lawyer, fighting cases for fellow superheroes. The She-Hulk series won’t just be an action-packed show about a woman who turns into a green monster and smashes things; it’ll also be a legal procedural in the vein of Law & Order or Boston Legal, but instead of regular criminals defending themselves, it’ll be superhumans.
With all of this going on, especially in the early days with an origin story to get out of the way and the need to establish the character, there might not be room for Bruce Banner.
6 Should appear: Smart Hulk doesn’t have anywhere else to go
Smart Hulk is one of the few characters that Avengers: Endgame didn’t set up a future for. Even characters that don’t have upcoming movies in the Phase 4, like the Guardians of the Galaxy, had their future set up by the closing moments of Endgame.
MCU fans have, until now, had no clue how Bruce Banner would factor into a post-Endgame MCU. Smart Hulk is the only character whose MCU future is unclear. He doesn’t fit into any of the upcoming movies and rights issues still prevent Marvel from giving him a solo film. The She-Hulk series is the only place for him to go.
5 Shouldn’t appear: His character arc is over
For all intents and purposes, Bruce Banner’s character arc in the MCU is over. For years, the Jekyll-and-Hyde conflict between Banner and the Hulk tormented him and kept him up at night. Then, the Hulk took over for a few years and became a gladiator on Sakaar. After being defeated by Thanos, the Hulk refused to come out.
Eventually, the two found a middle ground and became “Smart Hulk.” Then, he saved the world. As much as fans love seeing Mark Ruffalo in the role of Bruce Banner, his character arc is complete – just like Tony Stark and Steve Rogers’ are – so there’s no need for him to make any more appearances.
4 Should appear: Fans love him
It’s hard getting fans on board with new characters. Just look at the box office gross of Captain America: Civil War compared to Doctor Strange (these were the MCU’s two big 2016 releases); Doctor Strange wasn’t a box office bomb by any means, but Civil War grossed almost three times as much, because it’s easier to get fans to return to a character they’re familiar with than follow a character they’ve never met before.
MCU fans love Mark Ruffalo in the role of Bruce Banner – he’s easily the definitive screen version of that character – so bringing him in would be a good way to get more skeptical fans to watch She-Hulk than ordinarily would have.
3 Shouldn’t appear: His views on Hulking out are the opposite of Jen’s
Bruce Banner and Jen Walters disagree over whether or not becoming a Hulk is a bad thing. Whereas Banner will do anything to keep his rage under control to avoid ever turning into the Hulk, Jen loves being eight-feet-tall (she’s only about five-feet-tall as Jen) and ripped with the power of an Amazonian warrior, so she spends pretty much all of her time as She-Hulk.
With such a disagreement, Bruce and Jen surely wouldn’t get along if they spent too much time together, and it wouldn’t make sense for a guy who hates being a Hulk to hang around with someone who loves being a Hulk.
2 Should appear: It just makes sense
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is deeply interconnected. All of these characters exist side-by-side in the same world and if there’s a chance that one of them fits into another one’s story – like Doctor Strange appearing in Thor: Ragnarok to help Thor find Odin or Iron Man appearing in Spider-Man: Homecoming as Peter Parker’s mentor/father figure – then they make an appearance.
It helps to strengthen the ties between the wider universe and it also builds on the characters’ relationships with one another. If another Hulk shows up in the MCU, it just makes sense for the original one to show up.
1 Shouldn’t appear: A movie team-up would be better
In the MCU’s Phase 1, each of Earth’s mightiest heroes were introduced in their own solo movies, on their own terms, before being teamed up in 2012’s The Avengers. The She-Hulk series shouldn’t jump head-first into a team-up with Bruce Banner; that should be saved for a movie.
She-Hulk should get her own origin story and relationships with supporting characters set up in the series before pairing up with the Hulk for a movie. Marvel still can’t do a Hulk solo movie, thanks to legal troubles with Universe, but they could probably do a She-Hulk movie with the Hulk in a co-starring role.