Avengers: Endgame is undoubtedly a success. It’s the highest grossing film (unadjusted for inflation) of all-time, recently passing Fox’s Avatar for the box office crown. What’s more, it successfully capped offed the MCU’s Infinity Saga, which consists of 22-films and multiple franchises.
Given that it had so much to tie up, it’s kind of a miracle that things turned out so well. But just because audiences are largely satisfied, doesn’t mean there isn’t any nitpicking happening. One of the most divisive portions of the movie is the transformation of Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk.
Specifically, many were left scratching their heads at the decision to introduce the so called “Smart Hulk,” which combined the best parts of Bruce Banner and the Incredible Hulk into one being. It’s a narrative jump that’s barely explained and were it not for Ruffalo’s easy charisma in the role transition, it might have been even more baffling.
Now, however, the creative team behind Endgame have gone into the details of the decision. During an interview with Wired, co-director Anthony Russo commented as so:
We wanted to track how every one of the Avengers was moving forward from the experience of Infinity War. Banner is left with this reality that neither version of himself could stop Thanos. So, he dedicates himself to making sure this never happens again. And that is sort of the proper motivation for him to finally figure out how to reconcile the two sides of himself.
As far as the story goes, this actually makes a lot of sense. Bruce Banner has always been a character at odds with his nature, and after his resounding defeats during Infinity War, it’s natural he would want to ensure he’s better prepared for next time. And that means ending the conflict within himself and merging both sides.
Co-writer Christopher Markus, meanwhile, delved a little deeper into the pathos of the decision during a separate interview at SDCC in July. He revealed that Smart Hulk was supposed to appear much earlier than he did, stating:
We wrote [Infinity War], we shot it, and then went on to shoot most of Endgame. And it was: he achieved union with the Hulk while inside the Hulkbuster, burst out, and kicked Cull Obsidian’s ass. And it didn’t work. It was completely the wrong tone for that moment in the movie. It was this victory when we were headed toward a crushing defeat, and it was tone deaf. But we had already shot Endgame, where he was already Smart Hulk.
While Hulk’s sudden appearance as a merged form left some fans wanting, it’s clear that this was well-thought out and that everyone wanted to make it an important moment for the character. And even though the introduction was a little off, Smart Hulk represents a completed arc for the angriest Avenger. He moved away from being the reluctant hero, a man trying to run from power inside him, and in so doing, embraced his destiny to become the man to undo the Snap.
But what do you think? Was Smart Hulk the right choice for Bruce Banner in Avengers: Endgame? Or was there another version of the character that could have worked better? Sound off below!