Despite being one of the mainstays of the franchise since Phase One and a key member of the Avengers, the Hulk occupies unique territory in the MCU. For one thing, for a series that prides itself on a shared mythology, if it wasn’t for the return of Thaddeus Ross in recent movies, then The Incredible Hulk could be wiped from the franchise’s continuity entirely and it wouldn’t change a single thing.
Additionally, as much as fans would love to see it, Mark Ruffalo still hasn’t gotten a solo film in the MCU – though that might soon change. However, with Marvel reportedly in the midst of slowly replacing the vast majority of their marquee heroes, Bruce Banner’s time in the franchise might be drawing to a natural conclusion sooner rather than later.
After all, the impending introduction of She-Hulk on Disney Plus looks set to establish Jennifer Walters as an important part of the universe going forward and the natural successor to her cousin Bruce as the franchise’s premiere gamma-radiated character. Ruffalo is expected to play a supporting role in the upcoming series, and a new report now claims that some interesting things could be in store for the hero.
According to insider Roger Wardell, the next time we see the Hulk, Marvel will be drawing inspiration from the Doc Green and Immortal Hulk iterations. Doc Green is similar to Smart Hulk in many ways but identifies as a separate entity from both Banner and his angry alter-ego, while Immortal Hulk was a result of Banner’s multiple deaths and rebirths, and has since been established as the most powerful incarnation of the green-skinned rage monster we’ve seen yet.
Banner might end up being gone for a while. Hulk's next iteration is going to be based on both Doc Green and Immortal Hulk storylines.
— Roger Wardell (@WardellRoger) August 9, 2020
While this latest rumor should be taken with a pinch of salt, Marvel will no doubt be keeping their options open when it comes to the Hulk‘s return, and presenting him as either a continuation of the hybrid introduced in Avengers: Endgame or returning him to his roots as a monster driven only by destruction offers plenty of storytelling possibilities at both ends of the spectrum.