Avengers: Infinity War brought to light a potentially troubling rift between Bruce Banner and his raging alter-ego, the Incredible Hulk.
It’s a relationship that has been dysfunctional even at the best of times, but soon after Thanos left the Hulk quaking in his boots, it became abundantly clear that Marvel’s Jade Giant would no longer stick his neck on the line for Banner, leaving our human hero with no choice but to call upon the Hulkbuster (how very ironic) to battle the Mad Titan’s brute guardian, Cull Obsidian.
This, according to Infinity War co-director Joe Russo, is an example of Bruce Banner’s ongoing character arc, which entered a totally new phase thanks to the launch of Thor: Ragnarok. And based on Kevin Feige’s estimation, it’ll come to a close with Avengers 4 next summer, but not before Banner and Hulk bury the hatchet, as Joe Russo revealed during the Avengers: Infinity War commentary track.
This is an arc that makes Banner a hero and not just someone who whines for the Hulk’s help all the time. Banner has to step up and solve the problem on his own. This puts him and the Hulk in a very interesting position at the end of the movie. As he states there, they clearly have a lot to discuss.
Suffice it to say, Bruce and the “big guy” have some soul-searching to do before they’re singing from the same hymn sheet once more. Hell, there are even those who believe the money shot of Hulk racing into Wakanda alongside Captain America and the Dora Milaje is actually pulled from Avengers 4, and was employed as a trailer misdirect during the Avengers: Infinity War promo campaign.
It’s a stretch, of course, but we’re willing to bet that 2019 will signal the return of Hulk. Take it to the bank, folks.