Why Professor Hulk Is Not Really Bruce and Hulk Combined: MCU Fail

Following a long-gestating narrative arc spanning three MCU installments —  Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame — Bruce Banner finally learned to coexist with the big green alter ego he always tried to keep at bay: the Hulk. 

At the Infinity Saga’s commencement, Doctor Bruce Banner — an intellectual and master biochemist — viewed Hulk as a monster — a force to be called upon in dire circumstances, not as a separate entity with emotions and desires all his own. With time, he realized he needed to give Hulk a space to exist — treat the beast with mutual respect.

Mark Ruffalo Hulk
Actor Mark Ruffalo (starring as Hulk) ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ | Carlos Tischler/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In Avengers: Endgame, fans receive a merged Hulk and Bruce Banner. Right? Not exactly. We didn’t exactly receive the vision Stan Lee invested in, and the character was minimized and lambasted as a result.  We didn’t receive the gratifying combination built over several years. So, what did we get? 

Professor Hulk in ‘Avengers: Endgame’ is just Bruce Banner…but big and green 

Professor Hulk in the comics is not the dabbing fool seen in Endgame; he is not the man ashamed of Hulk’s smash and stomp tendencies of yesteryear. One fan explained who Professor Hulk is supposed to be on the Hulk’s Fandom page

Sorry folks, but this was not the Professor Hulk from the comics. Professor Hulk from the comics still got angry and loved to smash, he was not a pacifist hipster as portrayed in the abomination Disney delivered to us in Endgame. Disney’s Hulk was a joke and ONLY used for laughs and will age about as well as Clooney’s Batman.

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While combining Hulk and Bruce Banner physically, the movie failed to combine their individual personalities and approaches to life. A true merge would have featured a Bruce Banner who respected and appreciated Hulk’s immense power.

Instead, Endgame’s so-called merging is more accurately described as Bruce Banner taking control of the Hulk form, which is not a sign of negotiation or understanding, but rather a display of superiority and control. 

Bruce Banner and the Hulk are not coexisting; they are not combined. Rather, Bruce Banner has gained ownership of the Hulk’s body, changing the narrative set forth in the source material, and utterly minimizing the growth potential put forth in earlier cinematic installments. 

How could the MCU redeem Hulk moving forward? 

Moving forward, Professor Hulk needs to accept his powerful abilities, and be confident with what Hulk brings to the table; if the world needs a little stomp and smash to save the day, let the Hulk’s personality shine through.

Given that Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner will allegedly appear in She-Hulk and make an additional MCU appearance, there is still time to right this blatant wrong and restore the character’s dignity.

Hulk fights with rage, and that shouldn’t disappear because Banner and he have merged; otherwise, the Hulk is still suppressed. So, will the MCU go down a new path (towards true coexistence), or will the studio leave Professor Hulk to his science, occasionally smiling for the selfie stick?