Banner Is Neutral After Captain America: Civil War
It's not clear if Loki has any way to be aware of the full details of the events of Captain America: Civil War, so this could just be dumb luck, but Banner was the perfect disguise since he's one of the only Avengers not caught up in the Avengers schism. When Loki arrives, Iron Man is reluctant to give Steve Rogers a call. Loki knows he needs to quickly rally Earth's protectors to fight against Thanos and his Black Order. The Avengers aren't going to assemble on their own, and the end of the universe is rapidly approaching.
One of the only ways to get the heroes to unite is for Loki to take on a familiar form, one who could not have been involved in the superhero civil war. Thus the guise of Bruce Banner becomes a logical one. There's certainly an element of humor to the idea of Loki actively trying to reassemble the Avengers. Surprisingly, though, it's not without comic book precedent; in Dan Slott's Mighty Avengers run, Loki disguised himself as Scarlet Witch in order to persuade Hank Pym to put together a team.
Does This Explain Why Hulk's Arc Was Changed?
This may well explain why Marvel changed the Hulk's plot in Infinity War. Tie-in merchandise has teased that Marvel originally planned to have the Hulk explode out of the Hulkbuster armor during the Battle of Wakanda. The Russo brothers have suggested that this merchandise was linked to an earlier draft of the script, and the poor quality of the CGI in some of the Banner / Hulk scenes suggests the change was made late in the day. Certainly the final arc doesn't seem to have communicated itself well to viewers; the Russos really do seem to have been rather surprised that audiences thought the Hulk was afraid of Thanos.
But if this is all a misdirection, a clever trick played not only upon the Avengers but upon the viewers themselves, it would actually all make sense. This theory argues that the Russos decided, late in the day, that the Bruce Banner on Earth was actually Loki, God of Mischief. Naturally, Loki cannot transform into the Hulk, explaining why the Hulkbuster scene didn't actually happen in the end. That raises one difficult question to answer, though...
Where Is The Hulk?
If this theory is correct, the Hulk doesn't actually appear in the film after the opening sequence (if even then). Everything else is just one of Loki's tricks, an illusion played out upon those around him. So what actually happened to Bruce Banner?
Banner isn't actually the only character missing from the film. Viewers have noted three other mysterious absence on the Asgardian refugee vessel; Valkyrie, Korg, and Miek. The Russos have confirmed that Valkyrie made it off the ship before it exploded, but haven't commented about Korg and Miek. Wherever the real Bruce Banner is, perhaps he's with these Asgardian survivors?
Here's the interesting thing; Tessa Thompson was seen filming scenes for either Infinity War or Avengers 4 in Edinburgh. Given the Russos have confirmed there were few deleted scenes in Infinity War, it looks likely that Valkyrie and the Asgardian survivors will appear in Avengers 4. Thor was taking the refugees to Earth, and they may well continue their journey, with Valkyrie arriving to bolster the heroes' depleted numbers. If Bruce Banner is indeed with them, then Loki's deception will soon be exposed.
At first glance, this just seems like another amusing fan theory. In reality, there's actually a fairly strong case for it; not only does it fit rather well with the narrative of Avengers: Infinity War, actually solving some of the movie's more awkward plot points, but it also has some basis in the original comics.
Of course, that's not to say you should bet on it just yet. While audiences are already expecting Thanos's promise of "no resurrections" to be forgotten by Avengers 4, Loki is one of the few characters expected to stay dead. Nor is there a way to satisfactorily explain why Banner struggles to transform into the Hulk when on his own. Unless the Russos can find a way around those concerns, then it looks like Avengers: Infinity War is one death Loki couldn't fake his way out of.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019