Just prior to the release of Thor: Ragnarok, at a time when rumors of a possible standalone Hulk film kicked into high gear, Marvel boss Kevin Feige outlined a three-picture arc for Mark Ruffalo’s Avenger, one which would carry over into both Infinity War and the as-yet-untitled Avengers 4.
It is, in essence, a cosmic journey for the Jade Giant, all the while allowing the likes of Taika Waititi, the Russo Brothers and writing duo Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely to deep dive into the at-times fraught relationship between Bruce Banner and his raging alter-ego.
As anyone who’s seen Avengers: Infinity War will tell you, though, the opening moments of the event movie have Hulk get his ass kicked by Thanos, reducing the hero to a shell of his former self. It’s also the last time we see the Incredible Hulk in all his glory. And while we all know that he’ll be returning for next May’s sequel, the real question is how, and what exactly will be the trigger that brings him back?
Unfortunately, those are questions we still don’t have the answers to, but over on Reddit, one fan has put forth an interesting theory that suggests Banner’s alter-ego may make his big comeback due to the death of Black Widow.
“Thanos will put Natasha’s life in danger which will get Bruce really angry but still not hulk out. But then she will eventually die which will finally unleash the Hulk – but plot twist! It’s just a Reality Stone trick. Widow isn’t actually dead, Thanos just wanted to unleash the Hulk like Loki did in The Avengers. But this time, he’ll Mind Control Hulk to help him fight against [the other heroes].”
Things get even more exciting though in the comments section, as another user counters the original theory with one of his own, writing:
I actually think vice versa, from how easily Thanos dispatched the Hulk in Infinity War. He will not see him as a threat at all and might simply be killing Black Widow as an example to other Avenger aggressors. Of course, this will enrage and traumatize Banner/Hulk to the point where they both feel absolute fury and reach a strength which Thanos could never have anticipated, leading to a brutal beating that comes close to ending the Mad Titan’s motives completely and ultimately fulfilling the traditional comic lore of why Thanos considers the Hulk one of the few beings he never wishes to confront directly.
Pretty intriguing, no? Whatever the case, Marvel’s Incredible Hulk will be back on our screens next year thanks to the so-far untitled Avengers 4. And after that? Who knows, but it seems the prospect of a standalone movie for the character is little more than pie in the sky at this point.