While there was so much to take in from Infinity War, we were obviously left with many questions in our minds about what happened in the film, and what does all that mean for Avengers: Endgame. One such question from Infinity War was about the Hulk. One could argue that there are certain mysteries about Hulk and Bruce Banner even after we have seen him so many times in the MCU, and that argument is kinda right, to begin with.
With the Green Goliath going through his 3 story arc during Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, it is okay to think that every Hulk question will be answered once we see what happens with him in Endgame. But what about Infinity War. People are still confused with the Hulk not wanting to come out and fight even when Banner’s life, i.e. his own life is in grave danger. While most people thought that he was terrified of Thanos, the Russos actually suggested that he could just be tired of fighting for Banner.
But apart from the Hulk’s disappearance, a valid question to ask would be that why was Bruce aware of Thanos even though he personally didn’t meet him, and it was his alter ego who fought and lost against the Mad Titan? As it was apparent in Thor: Ragnarok that Bruce didn’t know about being trapped in while Hulk being out there for two years. He had no memory of what the Hulk did in the last two years.
And neither does Hulk fully remember of everything that Bruce has been through. So, for some people, Bruce being aware of Thanos, and warning Strange & Tony about the upcoming purple threat could be a little senseless. But it really wasn’t.
The Hulk and Bruce Banner are two different personalities living in one single body. The Gamma rays that Bruce was exposed to caused this dormant personality to dominate on many occasions. By Age of Ultron, it was getting harder for Bruce to return to his normal state after turning into the Big Green Guy, and that is where Natasha’s lullabies came into play. His affection for Nat became the driving factor for him to be able to counter Hulk’s willingness to stay out.
Bruce’s mind has always been in a constant state of torment, with two personalities fighting to be in the light at all times, not embracing the fact that both of them co-exist in within a single host body. In a multiple personality scenario, it is actually common for the other personalities of the body to be partially aware of what their other half does or experiences. In the case of Banner and Hulk, we have seen in the past that Bruce suffers flashes of memory of his time as the Hulk, and those flashes mostly come in situations of horror and suffering.
It is not that every time Bruce will know or remember what he did as the Hulk, but in a case of Split personality disorder, scientifically known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), it is common for one personality to transmit information to the other personality(s) living in one body.
In Peter David’s novelization of the Hulk, it has been evident that the Hulk persona can indeed impress its thoughts and desires upon Banner and there are scenes in the previous MCU movies which do support this fact. For those who saw Split and Glass would understand this as the multiple personalities of Kevin Wendell Crumb were aware of the others and even communicated information to each other many times.
Back in the Avengers, Bruce told Cap that he’s always Angry, which means that the Hulk is always there in the back seat of his car waiting to be unleashed. Both of them fight for a place in the world and it is usually Banner who is able to keep the monster at bay and release him at will.
Another example of this comes from a deleted scene from The Incredible Hulk which was foreshadowed in The Avengers. Bruce told everyone that he felt low and didn’t see an end to this road, so he “put a bullet in his mouth and the other guy spit it out.” Now, this was another flash of memory that Bruce was able to remember, that is why he knew of this incident.
This is why it was normal for Banner to know about Thanos. At the time Hulk got the beat down, his willingness to be out there was diminished, and since it was the time of horror, Bruce was able to sense the pain that Hulk suffered, and the flashes of his beat down by Thanos came fresh in his mind.
All this is the reason why the three movie arc for Hulk is actually a great choice for taking the story forward. Avengers: Endgame might be the last film for Bruce Banner and the Hulk, so Marvel wants to finish a definitive arc of the character. In Thor: Ragnarok, we saw Hulk finally being able to take control over Banner, but then he understood that Banner only wanted him to be out there to fight. Banner doesn’t want to really accept the fact that Hulk lives within him. And this is where the Avengers: Endgame story arc would evidently lead us.
By Avengers: Endgame, Hulk and Banner will probably have accepted each other, Banner will embrace the Hulk, and the Hulk will do the same for Banner. The two personalities will merge into one, with Banner’s intellect being in control and Hulk’s body being out there. Banner will feel exactly what the Hulk feels physically and mentally, and Hulk will feel exactly the same.
That is where the so-called “Professor Hulk” from the comics would come in. With Banner and Hulk’s brains being merged, he’d remember all the experiences he’d had as the Hulk if he would ever change back to his natural form.
The story of Hulk and Banner may be complex, but it is really great if you give it a proper thought. Avengers: Endgame comes out on April 26.