Bruce Banner has had a long and eventful journey through the MCU. Hulk made his debut (in Edward Norton form) back in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk as an uncontrollable rage monster, though has mellowed substantially as time went on. By Thor: Ragnarok the Hulk persona had become more articulate, and by Avengers: Endgame Banner and Hulk had reconciled their differences and amalgamated as ‘Smart Hulk’.
This has carried forward into upcoming Disney Plus show She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. Here a slightly older ‘Smart Hulk’ has healed from his injuries caused by using the Infinity Stones in Endgame and appears to be instructing Jennifer Walters on how to live your life as a giant green gamma person.
This newest evolution has fans debating which MCU Hulk was best. A Reddit thread shows off Hulk in 2012’s The Avengers, pointing out that the CGI holds up really well:
There’s a large subset of fans who wish Hulk was still in full ‘smash’ mode, though it’s pointed out that he needs to have a character arc to keep us engaged through 14 years of storytelling. As Uncanny_Doom correctly points out:
“Hulk can’t be a gorilla rage monster forever the same way Tony Stark can’t be a perfect problem solver forever and Cap can’t be a soldier forever.”
Defenders of “rage” Hulk are also annoyed that the last time we saw him in action was at the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War, where he was essentially used as a punching bag to show Thanos’ power. Many would have liked to see him go out “with a bang” rather than be reduced to being scared to come out of Banner.
It’s also noted that the complications of the Universal/Disney Hulk IP agreement mean Hulk’s story is always told in the background of other characters’ movies. This means big moments like his arrival on Sakaar or the first emergence of ‘Smart Hulk’ take place off-screen, leaving his arc incomplete.
There are rumors that the Hulk rights will revert fully to Disney and Marvel Studios over the next few years, so perhaps it’s time for one last Hulk solo movie. And who knows, maybe there’s still time for a grand encore from good ol’ angry Hulk.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law will release on Disney Plus later this year.