The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s resident gamma-irradiated rage monster has been through a number of significant changes since first stomping into the franchise just six weeks after Iron Man was released in the summer of 2008, not least of all the severing of ties between Marvel Studios, original star Edward Norton and distributor Universal. After being recast in the crumpled form of Mark Ruffalo, though, the Hulk has gone on to become a perennial fan favorite among MCU enthusiasts, even if he’s legally and contractually obligated to remain a supporting player.
Many people believe the reason why both Ang Lee’s 2003 version and Louis Leterrier’s effort five years later failed to catch on with audiences in a meaningful way is because it’s difficult to have viewers engage and empathize with a big green bundle of rage and fury that can only communicate through grunts and destruction. Marvel Studios have dealt with those concerns, though, by gradually humanizing the Hulk, beginning with Avengers: Age of Ultron and carrying through to Thor: Ragnarok, while Endgame introduced a fully sentient combination of Bruce Banner and his alter ego.
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However, insider Daniel Richtman now claims that might not be the case for long, as the tipster reports that the two sides of his personality could become separated once more and Hulk may be human again. Of course, we’ve already seen the Jekyll and Hyde story between mild-mannered Banner and his angry other half, while we’ve also witnessed the internal conflict between the two brought to life during Infinity War.
Still, there’s still plenty of mileage and untapped storytelling potential in exploring the Smart Hulk personality further, and given that Ruffalo will next be seen in Disney Plus’ She-Hulk, we should get a much better indication of what Marvel has planned for the Phase One stalwart soon enough.