In Avengers: Endgame, it was ultimately Hulk who had the honor of wearing the Infinity Gauntlet and undoing the genocide of last year’s Infinity War with a snap of his fingers. This heroic action, however, came with a price, as Bruce Banner’s arm was injured severely and perhaps permanently.
In the new book Avengers: Endgame – The Art of the Movie, co-director Joe Russo reflects on this moment, explaining that the damage suffered by Hulk served to emphasize the power of the previous character to use all the Infinity Stones:
“We know how powerful Thanos is by his quick defeat of the Hulk in Infinity War, so this is an incredibly painful experience, to put on the gauntlet that controls the universe. It permanently damages the most powerful beings and some of the most powerful creatures in these movies, and very few people can actually put that on and survive.”
In the final moments of Infinity War, we can observe that Thanos’ arm is looking a little worse for wear after using the gauntlet, making it only natural that the damage would be even worse for Bruce. What’s more, the injury foreshadows the fate of the gauntlet’s final user, Tony Stark, whose climactic finger-snap costs the hero his life.
According to Marvel Studios visual development head Ryan Meinerding, it was important that Bruce suffered some repercussions for his reversal of Thanos’ snap, recalling how a few ideas were thrown around for how this injury should look:
“When Hulk brings everybody back with a snap using the Stark gauntlet, they wanted Hulk to have paid a severe price for doing it. The idea of his arm being shriveled and messed up was where they were going with it initially, and I don’t think anybody was that comfortable with the visual of him fighting with a shriveled arm, so we were trying to come up with alternatives.
“I pitched that basically when his arm gets shriveled, he just rips his sleeve off and turns it into a sling to allow him to fight later on in the film and not have that asymmetry be something that was too odd. In the end, they worked it out fine in the movie without that concept.”
By the end of Avengers: Endgame, Hulk’s arm is still looking in a pretty bad state, suggesting that the time may be right for Bruce to retire from the superhero business. Like his fellow Phase 1 stars Captain America, Hawkeye and Thor, there’s a good chance that Hulk will soon be giving up his slot to a new character by way of the upcoming She-Hulk TV show, but in the meantime, we’ll keep an eye out for the Jade Giant when Marvel’s Phase 4 kicks off next year.