Avengers: Endgame completed a very deliberate three-movie arc for the Hulk. Since Marvel hasn’t been able to make a Hulk solo movie due to rights issues tangled up with Universal, we got a Hulk trilogy disguised in other people’s movies instead. Thor: Ragnarok gave us a Hulk that struggled to reconcile with Banner, then Avengers: Infinity War gave us a Banner that struggled to reconcile with the Hulk.
In Endgame, the two finally reconciled and became “Smart Hulk,” who has the brawn of the Hulk and the brains of Banner. But he’s not done yet. Here are 10 Possibilities For Smart Hulk’s MCU Future.
10 Teaming up with the Fantastic Four
Kevin Feige and the Marvel Studios dream team are currently cooking up ways to introduce the X-Men and the Fantastic Four into the MCU. One way to integrate the Fantastic Four into the franchise would be to team them up with the Hulk.
As a more conscious and sentient version of the Hulk, the MCU’s so-called “Smart Hulk” would be a great match for the Thing, who’s very similar. Plus, he’s a genius who spends his days figuring out time travel and artificial intelligence in a lab, which would make him a great partner for a properly adapted Reed Richards.
9 Becoming a villain
When Joss Whedon was first putting together the initial story treatment for The Avengers, he toyed with the idea of the Hulk being the main villain. He’d go out of control and start rampaging, and that would be the incident that would bring all the other Avengers together.
They’d realize that they couldn’t take him on alone, so they’d have to work together and combine their forces to stop him. In the end, Whedon went with Loki as the villain, but the idea of the Hulk as a villain shouldn’t be discounted. It would be the most surprising turn to take with the character and it would be a great way to bring together a new generation of Avengers.
8 Mentoring Spider-Man
One of Sony’s stipulations for letting Marvel Studios use the Spider-Man character is that he has to be joined by another major MCU player in his solo movies. In his first solo movie, that was Tony Stark. In his second, it was Nick Fury. Perhaps in his third, it can be Bruce Banner.
Since the Infinity Stones’ damage have put the Hulk pretty much out of action, he can mentor another hero. With Stark dead, maybe Banner and Peter Parker can be the new “Science Bros.” One of the few things that Tom Holland’s Spidey hasn’t nailed about the character is his intelligence. This would fix that.
7 Exploring dark What If...? scenarios on Disney+
Disney+, the Mouse House’s new streaming service that hopes to topple Netflix, will be premiering an animated MCU series called What If...? that will explore alternate ways that crucial moments in the MCU could’ve gone. Since the Hulk has had one of the most complex arcs, and he also has the most unstable superpowers, it will be interesting to see how some of his moments could’ve played out differently.
What if he didn’t end up on Sakaar after abandoning the Sokovian battlefield? What if he killed Thor in the Grandmaster’s gladiatorial arena? What if the Hulk beat Thanos at the beginning of Infinity War?
6 A team-up with Wolverine
The great thing about the Hulk is that, since he doesn’t really have a solo franchise of his own, he can be in anyone else’s movies and not feel out of place. This will come in especially handy for Marvel Studios now that they’re faced with the challenge of finding a way to bring the X-Men and the Fantastic Four into the MCU.
A lot of fans would love to see the mild-mannered, yet bulky Smart Hulk team up with the angry, aggressive, ultraviolent Wolverine character. It just depends if they can find an actor as perfect for the part as Hugh Jackman was.
5 Losing control of his anger again
When Smart Hulk first appears in Avengers: Endgame, he gives us a quick explanation of how he’s able to look like the Hulk and talk like Bruce Banner. He exposed himself to just enough gamma radiation for just long enough that he found the middle ground in his condition. But what if that wasn’t permanent?
Maybe he could start to lose control again. Or, the Hulk could come out while Smart Hulk is asleep and wreak havoc, leaving Smart Hulk on the run from the law and desperate to get his emotions in order. This might have to be a solo movie, but hey, maybe Marvel could finally figure out the rights problems with Universal.
4 Getting a new arm
Avengers: Endgame co-director Joe Russo has explained that using the Infinity Stones has caused “permanent damage” to Smart Hulk’s arm, but also suggested that all hope isn’t lost:
“He’s lost an arm...He’s damaged himself...It’s interesting. That’s permanent damage, the same way that it was permanent damage with Thanos. It’s irreversible damage. His arm, if you noticed, is a lot skinnier. It’s blackened. So, he loses a lot of strength there. But who knows? There’s a lot of smart people left. Maybe someone helps him repair that. Maybe someone gives him a new arm.” Perhaps Hank Pym or Reed Richards or Charles Xavier – or Bruce Banner himself – will design an advanced prosthetic arm, a la Bucky Barnes, to replace it.
3 Joining the Guardians of the Galaxy
In Thor: Ragnarok, we saw that putting the Hulk in a cosmic adventure can be a lot of fun. The tough thing about that one was the internal struggle between the growling rage monster Hulk and the rational human being Bruce Banner.
Since that struggle has been resolved and the two have become one, he would need to face a new challenge if he went back into space as Smart Hulk. This could involve a team-up with the Guardians of the Galaxy, since he had great chemistry with Rocket in Avengers: Endgame and would probably have fun banter with the likes of Drax and Groot.
2 Fighting the Maestro
In the beloved comic book miniseries “Hulk: Future Imperfect,” we see that, in a distant future, the Hulk has taken over the world and started calling himself the Maestro. He rules the post-apocalyptic Earth with an iron fist. The Hulk we know and love travels from the present day to fight his future self and restore order to the timeline.
Now that time travel exists in the MCU – and it was invented by, among others, Smart Hulk himself – perhaps an adaptation (or at least a loose adaptation) of this storyline is in order. It might have to be a solo movie, but the producers might finally be able to work that out.
1 Moving to New Asgard
Bruce Banner forged strong relationships with Valkyrie and Korg in Thor: Ragnarok, as well as strengthening his existing relationship with Thor, so maybe his next move would be to head to New Asgard. We saw him visit there in Endgame, but if he actually joined in the New Asgardians’ adventures, there could be a lot of fun movies exploring that side-street in the MCU.
Fans are eager to see more of Valkyrie, Korg, and the rest of New Asgard, so why not let Smart Hulk tag along? He could act as an embattled scientific consultant in their world of magic.