Marvel Producers Never Should Have Tried to Make Natasha and Banner Happen

Romance has never been a huge component of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For every Peter Parker and MJ, you have at least one couple who seem to be over before they start, like Bruce Banner and Black Widow

That couple began promisingly enough, but after one or two movies, the Hulk left not only her but the entire planet and ended up hanging out with Thor. After that point, when it came to the Hulk, romance was pretty much dead.

Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo smiling and looking off camera in the opposite direction
Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo | Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

What happened with Hulk and Black Widow?

The idea of Hulk and Black Widow as a couple seemed to come from Joss Whedon, the writer and director of the first two Avengers movies. It was in the original Avengers that the idea took root because Natasha was the one who found Bruce Banner and convinced him, against his better judgment, to join the team. This was not before she called off a squad of SHIELD soldiers ready to strike if Banner Hulked out. 

He didn’t at that point, but Natasha was the main witness to his first Hulk out later in that movie, so it made sense from a storytelling standpoint that something beyond teammates or friendship could be developed there. In Age of Ultron, it became clear that Natasha was the Hulk’s handler, the one who calmed him down as needed. This led to a hesitant romance at the party scene in Age of Ultron, and that romance was encouraged by Captain America, who had a brief flirtation with Natasha in Winter Soldier. 

After that, however, not much seemed to happen. At the end of Ultron, the Hulk flew into space and eventually joined Thor, and once that happened, any romance with Natasha was only mentioned in passing. When Natasha died in Avengers: Endgame, Professor Hulk, who did not witness her death, had a moment of rage, but that was all that was left of their romance, such as it was. 

What do fans say about the not-so-super couple?

When a Reddit thread asked which MCU couple had the worst chemistry, the very first answer was “Hulk and Black Widow. Whoever thought they needed a half romantic subplot should get a good spanking.”

Fans noted that the romance was Whedon’s creation, but Whedon hasn’t directed for Marvel since Age of Ultron, and there have been multiple reports that the movie was a difficult production that left Whedon feeling drained. It seems as though Whedon went, the Black Widow/Natasha romance went with him, and the writers and directors who followed him decided not to pick up that thread. The Infinity War/Endgame writers tried to make it work, but just couldn’t make it fit. 

One fan grumbled, “I actually think the lack of acknowledgment of their romance since that film has been worse than if they just went with it. They should have actually resolved it instead of giving us a half assed look between the two of them on Infinity War.”

What other MCU couples might have worked? 

Other fans suggested that a romance between Black Widow and Captain America might have worked, with Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson having particularly good chemistry. And that was before Age of Ultron. “It was so annoying because cap and black widow had such amazing chemistry in tws and then they randomly put her with Bruce.”

It was also suggested that a romance between Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter, niece of Peggy Carter, also teased in The Winter Soldier, was something of a missed opportunity. She showed up again in Captain America: Civil War and shared a kiss with Steve, but things never went further than that. Perhaps the writers figured that ultimately, Steve only had eyes for Peggy. Good thing time travel came along. At least Sharon Carter will return in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.