The Avengers: Endgame is giving Marvel's heroes another shot at taking Thanos down for good, but nobody is aching for a rematch like Hulk. If their second fight goes the way we expect, it might confirm once and for all that Bruce Banner's trip across space was no accident--it was Thanos attempting to remove the most formidable Avenger from the game.
Some might scoff at our speculation, since Hulk wasn't even a factor in the Infinity War battles. But just because Bruce Banner and Hulk failed to work together in time to prevent the Thanos Snap, that doesn't mean there was never a chance to pull it off. And if Thanos is as smart as he claims to be, the events of the MCU leading to Infinity War would be all the evidence he needed to decide on his biggest threat. Starting with the fact that when it comes to the gamma-powered Avenger, it isn't the Hulk half that Thanos actually needed to worry about at all.
Banner is The TRUE Threat To Thanos
When fans stop and think about it, it's painfully obvious that Hulk never stood a chance against Thanos when they fought in Infinity War, and that the Mad Titan already knew that going into it. Hulk may even be physically stronger than Thanos on a given day, but throw the Power Stone into his Gauntlet and the "strongest Avenger" poses no threat whatsoever. But Dr. Bruce Banner? Now that is a threat a tactician like Thanos would recognize as a problem to be dealt with.
Tony Stark may also be a genius level intellect, but if Thanos was watching the Avengers from their first team-up on through the Age of Ultron, Tony displayed every insecurity, every willingness to risk everything, and collapse beneath guilt and paranoia that would ultimately defeat him. Bruce Banner on the other hand exercised caution at every step, all the while questioning his other half on a path towards better understanding the green beast residing inside of him. By Ultron, the Avengers almost had Hulk figured out, thanks to Nat's lullaby.
Either way you cut it, leaving Hulk on Earth was bad news for Thanos. If Banner and Hulk ever found a way to merge their abilities, forming the MCU's version of Professor Hulk, with Banner's mind and Hulk's muscle? That's an enemy closer to Thanos, and far smarter than Thanos, that the villain couldn't allow to be born. Which meant he needed to act.
If Thanos Can't Kill Banner... Let Hulk
This solution, if it really is the one that will eventually be confirmed, is actually fairly brilliant. It's hard to believe Hulk would "randomly" access a wormhole sending him straight to Sakaar, a planet upon which Bruce Banner would have no chance of ever surviving. Drop him into Grandmaster's yard, and Hulk would be forced to take control, and find no reason to ever relinquish it. Perhaps Thanos shared more than just strength with Hulk, and knew thousands of years in Thor: Ragnarok's gladiator arena would be the perfect distraction for a titan with a warrior's heart.
The plan would have worked too, if Thor hadn't been knocked out of Bifrost and onto Sakaar, as well. Should fans see it as coincidence that once Hulk boarded a ship with Thor, presumably to someday return to Earth, that Thanos chose that very time to strike? Or did he realize that Banner had returned to the original path that could end in Earth's strongest defender being its smartest, as well?
Our theory will gain some credibility if Avengers: Endgame sets the stage for a true synthesis of Banner and Hulk, which has been hinted at over the past several films. And if such a Professor Hulk ends up playing a pivotal role in defeating Thanos--either through his strength, smarts, or both--don't be surprised if Marvel's architects later confirm that very outcome was the one Thanos hoped to avoid.
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019