In a movie like Avengers: Endgame that’s full of awesome moments, it’s quite hard to pinpoint the best ones. But Smart Hulk is definitely among the contenders for the top of that list.
While the MCU couldn’t officially give Hulk his own film due to Universal owning the character rights, it was still a great culmination of his personal narrative arc. And though the smart version of the angry green giant didn’t fully materialize until Endgame, hints of his appearance were dropped throughout Thor: Ragnarok.
Ragnarok might be a Thor movie by title, but it more effectively served as a Thor-Hulk buddy adventure. Taika Waititi’s pic completely changed the tone of the Thor series, and brought out Chris Hemsworth’s charmingly funny side through Thor and Hulk’s hilariously troubled relationship. It also gave Bruce Banner and his alter ego their meatiest role yet, after he disappeared in Avengers: Age of Ultron. And it was in this movie that Smart Hulk’s personality slowly began to develop.
Ragnarok represented the first film in which Hulk showed the ability to string words together in a meaningful manner. We effectively got to see him go through his stages of growth, from angry baby, to irritable child in Ragnarok, and finally to the genius amalgamation of Hulk and Banner from Endgame. There’s one scene in particular from Ragnarok that cleverly foreshadows their co-existence, too.
When Hulk locates the Quinjet that landed him in the world of Sakaar, after turning back into Banner, he watches a video that shows how he ended up on the planet. In that scene, there’s a moment where Banner’s face and Hulk’s line up in the screen’s reflection – a harbinger of things to come.
The big Smart Hulk reveal almost came early in Infinity War, but was ultimately saved for the finale. There are a lot of gaps in Banner’s story, then, which are pieced together through context, but now that Marvel reportedly have the rights to the character back, maybe we’ll get a solo movie covering those events?