Following Edward Norton’s 2008 cinematic debacle, The Incredible Hulk, Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner never received a standalone installment. However, his character’s narrative arc was fleshed out over the course of multiple Avengers movies; Thor: Ragnarok and Infinity War both worked to develop the foundation leading to Professor Hulk in Avengers: Endgame.
While Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner played a significant role in the franchise, many feel that Avengers: Endgame did him dirty, as he became a laughing stock — present for comic relief and stripped of his smash and stomp skills, the very ones integral to destroying the baddies in previous MCU installments. Professor Hulk was fun in Endgame, yet the character transformation felt rushed (and a bit off) to some MCU enthusiasts.
Kevin Feige may be looking to make up for the Hulk’s lackluster presentation in Endgame. Following the events of the last Avengers film, Bruce Banner will likely walk into a new pair of shoes, trying on a revamped identity for size, as he will be one of the last remaining OG Avengers.
Chris Hemsworth’s Thor will undoubtedly hand the hammer over to Natalie Portman’s Mighty Thor. Many presume that Natasha’s Black Widow will be swapped out for Yelena Belova’s. Captain America and Tony Stark have bid us farewell — via tear-jerking denoument. And, Hawkeye is set to train a youngster to take his place in the Disney+ series. This leaves Ruffalo. So, what’s next for Banner?
Bruce Banner’s role in the MCU moving forward
According to Den Of Geek, Mark Ruffalo still has one film left in his six-film contract with the MCU, and he does not try to hide this fact! Because cameos do not count in this calculation, Ruffalo is still on the hook.
When Ruffalo appears in other MCU films, his character will likely serve as a thread to the original Avengers — a mentor to the new saviors, and a piece of the originals no longer present, never to be forgotten. He may not become the next leader — as such a position is reserved for Captain Marvel and Spidey — but he will likely become an advisor, simultaneously offering the brains and the brawn behind the operation … especially now that he is Professor Hulk.
Bruce Banner is also allegedly appearing in the Disney+ series She-Hulk; meaning, he will presumably serve to connect the TV character to the grander cinematic universe. Jennifer Walters (Bruce’s cousin) must get her powers somehow — join the super soiree at some point — and there’s no doubt that Ruffalo’s Hulk will be involved in the process. Ruffalo will likely help bring Jennifer Walters into the A-Force, which Captain Marvel is set to lead.
Bruce Banner vs. Red Hulk?
Considering Black Widow has been teasing a possible Thunderbolts plotline, Bruce Banner may also have to take on his iconic foe, Red Hulk. General Thaddeus Ross becomes Red Hulk, and the actor behind Ross was already caught filming a scene for Black Widow.
Ruffalo may finish out his contract with the MCU in a battle against Red Hulk, giving the character the attention he deserves and the narrative importance many feel he was robbed of in Endgame. While this may not be a standalone Hulk movie — due to legal issues — it would probably play out like Ragnarok, giving Banner a leading role once again.