To quote the famous opening narration from the live action TV series of The Incredible Hulk, Dr. Banner is a character whose fundamental struggle is to “find a way to control the raging spirit that dwells within him.” But while Bruce’s conflict has traditionally been interpreted as the challenge of preventing his big green alter ego from rising to the surface at inopportune moments, Avengers: Infinity War went in quite the opposite direction.
Instead, the recent Marvel actioner saw Bruce failing to transform into the Hulk whenever the occasion called for it. After facing defeat against Thanos in the opening sequence, Banner’s beefier half is reluctant to come to the Avengers’ aid for the rest of the movie, leading some viewers to speculate that the raging giant has a case of bad nerves.
On the commentary track for the Infinity War home video release, however, co-director Joe Russo offers an alternative explanation, suggesting that the Hulk’s refusal to come out stems less from a fear of Thanos and more from resentment towards Bruce.
“A lot of people had interpreted that the Hulk was scared of Thanos,” Joe Russo began. “The Hulk has had his ass kicked before, and so it wasn’t like the minute he gets his ass kicked he’s going to run and hide. It’s really the notion that the Hulk and Banner have a very dysfunctional relationship, which was explored even further in Thor: Ragnarok.”
Continuing on, he said:
And I think that relationship is starting to strain between the two of them and the Hulk is not interested in playing the hero to Banner anymore. I don’t know if the Hulk sees the value in the relationship. They both want to control Hulk’s body. The Hulk brings fighting and strength to the table and he’s not quite sure what Banner is bringing yet. So, I think this is becoming a stubborn push and pull between two very despaired personalities stuck in one body.”
Suffice to say, Bruce sure picked a bad time for an identity crisis, but it’s a safe bet that you’ll be seeing some Hulk action when Avengers 4 hits theaters on May 3rd, 2019. In the meantime, you can currently catch Avengers: Infinity War on Digital HD, before the film comes to 4K Ultra HD, Blu-Ray and DVD on August 14th.