Bruce Banner’s major transformation to smart Hulk is currently a big matter of discussion between the MCU fan base. Up until now, it has not been clear on how or why the Marvel Cinematic Universe reversed Bruce Banner’s transformation following Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. In ‘Avengers: Endgame’, for the first time in a decade, Hulk is transformed from a mindless, rage-filled monster to something far more complex.
Bruce Banner’s brilliance and the Hulk’s strength were merged to create Smart Hulk. He reversed Thanos’ snap and resurrected half of all life in the cosmos. It was thought that this would be his form for the foreseeable future. As soon as it was revealed that Hulk will return in the ‘She-Hulk’ Disney+ series, Marvel Studios’ intentions for him following ‘Avengers: Endgame’ began to emerge.
While trying to find out where the Ten Rings originate from in Shang-Chi’s mid-credits scene, Bruce Banner appears with Captain Marvel and Wong. Nevertheless, Ruffalo’s comeback wasn’t as the Smart Hulk. This in return made the cameo all the more surreal. As seen in the movie, Bruce Banner’s arm is still in a sling following ‘Avengers: Endgame’. The MCU’s choice to reverse Bruce’s Smart Hulk transformation was surprising. Nonetheless, the latest Marvel movie did not have time to explain how and why this change occurred. Bruce Banner could have reverted his Smart Hulk transformation if he wanted to. But what it could signify for his MCU future is up for questioning.
Bruce Banner’s journey in ‘Avengers: Endgame’ led him to become the Smart Hulk. Phases 1 and 2 focused on Bruce and Hulk’s fight for control. The Incredible Hulk ended with Bruce gaining some control over when Hulk would appear. Meanwhile, the Avengers came close to placing Bruce in total control of when Hulk would appear. Black Widow and Bruce Banner worked together to develop the lullaby that eases Hulk’s transition back into Banner in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Hulk arc began with Thor: Ragnarok and ended with Smart Hulk. Sakarr provided Hulk with some intellect, but he refused to leave when Thanos beat him in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’. Nor has he been out since. Bruce had to spend a lot of time in a lab after Thanos’ snap. At the lab he tried to figure out how to combine his brain and the Hulk’s gamma form in order to save the world. No one knows precisely how Bruce managed to turn into the Smart Hulk, but the end effect is undeniable.
Storylines like that of the comics’ Professor Hulk, might help explain how Bruce reversed his ‘Avengers: Endgame’ transformation before appearing in ‘Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’. Another possibility is that the Smart Hulk has a safeguard to prevent the normal Hulk from emerging. An internal switch would activate anytime he became too furious and quickly return him to his Bruce Banner form. In the comics, Hulk’s brain was in Bruce’s body when Betty Ross was shot. As a result, he couldn’t inflict as much harm. However, despite the fact that Shang-Chi’s Banner remains a genius, the failsafe explanation might still hold true in this case. When Tony Stark died in Avengers: Endgame, perhaps Bruce Banner’s failsafe was activated. This could’ve also meant that the actual Hulk was on the point of taking over.
In the comics, there are various theories for why Smart Hulk becomes Bruce Banner once again. Hulk and Bruce may have been separated if Bruce had sought Leonard Samson’s advice. As a result of helping Bruce recover from gamma radiation, Samson was able to increase his own abilities. in order to regain Bruce’s authority. Ty Burrell’s The Incredible Hulk persona might be brought back by Marvel to tell a similar narrative. Hulk transformation may potentially be reversed by using someone like Samuel Sterns aka The Leader. The Hulk’s gamma radiation and the Hulk’s transformation process are well-known to him. So, after being exposed to Bruce’s blood, he should be able to crack the code.
Ruffalo’s participation in ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ raises the issue of how Bruce may have lost his gamma radiation in some way. So, after ‘Avengers: Endgame’, the MCU may finally accomplish the same as the comics do by removing Bruce’s gamma radiation and preventing him from turning into the Hulk. It’s possible that Hulk’s snap created the situation. As it is now, he’s not exactly suited to tackle crime. Bruce may have chosen to abandon his Smart Hulk form in order to attempt to cure himself, but it’s also possible. Even though he’s still wearing a sling in Shang-Chi, his arm may be simpler to heal in Bruce form rather than Smart Hulk.
Alternatively, Bruce’s decision to revert his Smart Hulk transformation might be justified by the fact that he may no longer require that form. During The Blip, he was one of the few active superheroes. However, in Phase 4, he’ll be replaced by a new hero. She-Hulk might give Bruce the comfort that the world will still be safe without him becoming Hulk. With almost a decade of rescuing the world under his belt, he may be ready to retire, as well. He could also possibly serve as a consultant to the Avengers instead of being a full-fledged member of them. Bruce’s decision to give Jennifer a blood transfusion in the comics may have been less of a purposeful decision and more of an unintended consequence of how Jennifer becomes She-Hulk in the MCU.
Now that Bruce Banner has appeared in the first Phase 4 project, She-Hulk will appear in some form in Shang-Chi. As a result, the show could adequately explain how and why Smart Hulk returned to Bruce Banner. Although She-Hulk may take place after Shang-Chi, the show will be able to use flashbacks to explain what led to Bruce Banner’s return so soon after ‘Avengers: Endgame’. This seems even more significant especially if She-Hulk’s appearance is the exact result of Smart Hulk’s disappearance.
The fact that so little is known about Hulk’s role in the show makes it more difficult to determine the exact link between She-Hulk and Shang-Chi. According to photographs taken on the set, Mark Ruffalo will appear as the green monster. This might indicate that Smart Hulk will be featured more in the series. Many believe that She-Hulk will also depict Bruce’s terrible childhood, which has connections to the Hulk’s incarnation in the comic books. After Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings, Bruce’s mentality may have changed.