After losing his fight to Thanos in the opening minutes of Avengers: Infinity War, Hulk chose to sit out the rest of the film, leaving Bruce Banner to man the Hulkbuster during the climactic Battle of Wakanda.
However, as co-writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely recently explained in an interview with Vanity Fair, the original plan was for the Jade Giant to come bursting out of the suit during the fight, marking the arrival of Smart Hulk one year before the release of Avengers: Endgame.
Ultimately, this development was saved for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ latest outing, but if you’d like a better idea of how Hulk’s Infinity War comeback might’ve looked, then feast your eyes on this recently surfaced concept art, credited to Ryan Meinerding.
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As you can see, the transformation was intended to happen during Bruce’s clash with Cull Obsidian – a fight that Mark Ruffalo’s character survives in the actual film without the help of his big green alter ego.
In his interview with Vanity Fair, McFeely explained that it didn’t feel right for Hulk to have his “big win” during a third act that was supposed to be “a march toward losing.” What’s more, the comic relief of Smart Hulk seemed to jar with the gloomy tone of Avengers: Infinity War’s final stretch.
As a result, the debut of Smart Hulk was saved for the opening third of Endgame, where it was revealed that Bruce had managed to reconcile his two identities during the five-year time-jump. Now that some closure has been brought to the character’s journey, it’s possible that Hulk’s run in the MCU is nearing its end, but for what it’s worth, there’s a very good chance we’ll see him again when the She-Hulk TV show comes to Disney Plus.