You may’ve noticed that Bruce Banner isn’t entirely himself throughout the bulk of Avengers: Infinity War – or more accurately, he’s always himself, failing on multiple occasions to transform into his big green alter ego when the situation calls for it.
Banner’s seeming inability to call on the Hulk’s assistance in the fight against Thanos has understandably led to a fair bit of fan speculation, with one theory going as far as to suggest that he’s really a shape-shifting alien Skrull in disguise for the film’s entirety. Redditor Tanyunlong, on the other hand, takes a rather different but no less out-there route with their new conjecture, positing that Bruce is indeed still Bruce throughout the movie, albeit a different Bruce from the one we’ve seen in previous MCU installments.
The Reddit user starts off their theory by describing what could be regarded as unusual behavior in the opening minutes of Infinity War.
“At the start of IW we see Thor defeated, the Asgardians dead or about to die and the ship almost destroyed. Loki is about to confront Thanos and then the Hulk shows up.
What took him so long to show up? Why did Bruce not Hulk out in the battle when back on Earth?
The answer is that Bruce died on the ship. We see Hulk/Bruce [from] another timeline. Hear me out for a second.”
Sure enough, this idea seems rather out of left-field, but Tanyunlong presents three pieces of evidence to back this theory up.
“First – Bruce wakes up on Earth with Knowledge of Thanos and his plans. Detailed knowledge that includes the info that Thanos was the most powerful being in the Universe. Knowlege of the stones as well. – It was never shown how Bruce would know that.
Second – Hulk was afraid to come back out. I think Hulk knew what was going to happen and didnt want to go through it.
Third – Bruce had no confusion as to who Dr Strange was or to what magic was. – Bruce shows up in the sanctum and tells Strange everything expecting him to understand. Strange and Wong were confused by Bruce, but Bruce wasnt confused. He knew who and what they were. He had just transformed from being Hulk and no confusion.”
While explanations for some of these points are still up for debate, most fans are probably going to need a fair bit more evidence than just what’s presented here to buy into the Redditor’s eccentric conclusion. Point two seems particularly flimsy, seeing how the film’s co-director Joe Russo has already offered his explanation that the Hulk’s refusal to come out was less due to a case of bad nerves and more out of resentment towards his mild-mannered other half.
All the same, points for thinking outside of the box with this idea. While there are currently quite a few Avengers: Infinity War theories online that dabble in alternate universes and timelines, few have thought to apply such knotty, abstract concepts to our incredible green friend here. In any case, whatever it is that’s eating away at Bruce and his grouchy companion, you can bet that Avengers 4 will flesh this out inner conflict further when the film drops on May 3rd, 2019.