It seems Bruce Banner is suffering from a little stage fright.
Despite two full years as the Incredible Hulk, during which time he was crowned champion of Sakaar for Thor: Ragnarok – much to the bemusement of the God of Thunder – Mark Ruffalo’s Phase One Avenger begins Avengers: Infinity War as a shell of his former self. We have Thanos to thank for that one, it seems.
Without straying too far into spoiler territory, let’s just say Infinity War picks up exactly where Ragnarok left off, and the subsequent fallout is enough to leave both Banner and Hulk completely shellshocked – to the point where the former struggles to wrangle the latter under control.
And it’s this inner conflict that came up in conversation when Mark Ruffalo appeared on The Late Late Show (h/t ComicBook.com), where he warned viewers that Banner and the “big guy” are no longer singing from the same hymn sheet.
I’m not allowed to say anything. They’re having a real problem. Let me just say this to you; the only person or thing in the universe that Hulk is afraid of is Banner. And the only one who Banner probably dislikes more than anything else is Hulk. And they’re headed for a showdown.
Those comments align with a previous interview with Ruffalo, in which the MCU stalwart teased Hulk’s monumental clash with Thanos, the unruly Mad Titan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe who seeks to slash the universe’s population in half. His words, not ours.
Banner knows probably more about Thanos than anybody. He’s really trying to impress on everybody how dangerous he is. It’s a little bit of a Chicken Little. He comes in screaming, ‘Bloody murder!’ He’s seen what damage [Thanos] can cause and how powerful he is. The entire group is in disarray, so there’s also getting caught up on what’s happened here. He’s trying to get them to transcend their differences and impress upon them how much danger they’re actually facing.
It’s for this reason that Banner winds up behind the wheel of the Hulkbuster (the irony!) as he charges into the Battle of Wakanda alongside T’Challa, Captain America, Black Widow and the Dora Milaje. Even from the trailers alone, it’s undoubtedly Avengers: Infinity War‘s most impressive scene, and we can’t wait to sit down and watch the MCU’s biggest movie ten times over in order to discover all of its many Easter eggs and references.