MCU Fans Had a Surprising Reaction to Smart Hulk’s Original Introduction in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’

With so many heroes and stories to juggle, Avengers: Endgame was bound to disappoint some fans. In particular, Marvel devotees are still burned by the Hulk’s (Mark Ruffalo) story. The character may still have a future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the new “Smart Hulk.” Now fans caught a glimpse at how this version of the hero was originally supposed to emerge.

Mark Ruffalo at an 'Avengers: Infinity War' press conference
Mark Ruffalo at an ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ press conference | Carlos Tischler/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Mark Ruffalo barely appears as the Hulk in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’

Avengers: Infinity War kicks off the two-part showdown between Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Thanos (Josh Brolin). But early on in that film, fans got their first and only bit of Hulk-related action in the movie. Following a brief battle with Thanos, Hulk refuses to emerge for the rest of the movie.

Fans who had seen a key shot of Hulk in Wakanda were left dismayed at the character’s absence. Sure, Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner appears throughout. And Banner even hops into the Hulkbuster armor for the Battle of Wakanda. But audiences were primed for Hulk’s triumphant return.

That development, of course, never takes place. Although Hulk’s story could have been much grimmer, some MCU fans were very much awaiting the big guy in Avengers: Infinity War. And to make matters worse, the Hulk they meet in Avengers: Endgame undergoes a huge shift between movies.

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His story makes a huge leap forward off-screen in ‘Avengers: Endgame’

Avengers: Endgame opens with an intense direct follow-up to the events of the previous film. But the movie quickly jumps ahead five years into the future. So when audiences see Hulk again, he and Banner have merged their consciousness into “Smart Hulk.” Still big and green, the Hulk now has the intelligence and demeanor of Banner.

In earlier versions of the two-part story, however, directors Joe and Anthony Russo addressed the Hulk’s evolution much earlier. In fact, the third act of Avengers: Infinity War was supposed to introduce “Smart Hulk.” When the battle gets rough, Hulk comes through to save the day, just as Banner asks him to in the final version.

RELATED: Why Mark Ruffalo Told Robert Downey Jr. He Shouldn’t Be Cast as the MCU’s Hulk

Now fans have discovered how Hulk’s story originally played out

Ultimately, the Russo brothers believed Banner’s personal victory doesn’t fit with the bleak tone of the Avengers: Infinity War ending. And thanks to footage currently making the rounds on Twitter, fans have been debating whether or not the Hulk’s storyline in the movie is any better. 

The footage sees Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie) cautiously approach the newly evolved Hulk, only to be surprised by his new state. Much to their surprise, most fans believe the Russos made the better call introducing “Smart Hulk” in Avengers: Endgame.

“[Avengers: Infinity War] was already moving at such break-neck speed, it makes sense this was cut because it didn’t really add anything,” one fan tweeted. Likewise, another user agrees with pushing “Smart Hulk” to the second film. “I like the scene, but I don’t think it would have worked. This is a win and Infinity War was about them losing.”

It remains to be seen what the Hulk’s future in the MCU will hold. Some reports claim Ruffalo still has a key role to play, but fans will have to wait and see where his story leads.