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How The MCU Can Explore Hulk’s Tragic Childhood

By Chandraboli Majumdar
August 25,2022

The Hulk is an extremely interesting character that hasn’t been explored much in the MCU due to complications over the rights to the character. However, with the first episode of She-Hulk we got a little more insight into what the Hulk has been up to when not fighting with his fellow Avengers. After spending 18 months in his lab he completed his transformation into Smart Hulk. He also talks about his struggles with his alter ego. Jen Walters doesnt have an alter ego and is mostly in control of her powers. For Bruce, it was an uphill battle. He tries to explain what it’s like to have another person in your head. This gives MCU the opportunity to explore Hulk’s childhood and mental health issues. So what is this tragic past that we are talking about?

Hulk’s Childhood

Hulk's abusive childhood

Hulk’s abusive childhood

Bruce’s father was Dr. Brian Banner who was also an atomic physicist. He never wanted to have children and despised Bruce because of it. He refused to believe that Bruce was an intelligent kid and instead thought that radiation exposure had somehow mutated him into something else. Brian was an alcoholic and a very angry person. He took out all his rage on Bruce and physically abused him. His mother, Rebecca, often tried to protect him. One fateful day Brian Banner killed Rebecca right in front of Bruce. This was because she was trying to save Bruce from his father and take him away with her.

After this incident, Brian is sentenced to prison and Hulk goes to live with his aunt Susan. She tried to give him as much love and care as was possible. Nonetheless, the damage had been done. He was a child prodigy but was extremely withdrawn, lonely and isolated. He often got bullied. His only friend was his cousin Jen Walters.

Mental health issues

Bruce Banner mental health

Bruce Banner mental health

Eventually Bruce started exhibiting symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder which is something that often stems from childhood trauma due to physical abuse. He started having imaginary friends. That is how he created the identity of Hulk. Hulk, the imaginary friend, helped Bruce cope with the trauma of his childhood and the death of his mother. He stayed with him throughout his college graduation and served as an outlet for all the negative emotions within Bruce. Banner’s mental health has barely been referenced in the MCU and would be a great angle to cover.

Bruce Banner has also been presumed to have Bipolar Disorder. His rage isn’t limited to his Hulk persona. He has extreme mood swings regardless. He also accidentally caused the death of his father. After his father got out of prison, he got in touch with Bruce. However, things escalated quickly and Brian started to rile up Bruce. Eventually it became physical and they fought at Rebecca’s grave when Bruce went there to remember his mother on the anniversary of her death. Brian knocked Bruce to the ground. Bruce in an attempt to defend himself, pushed his father away. Brian, losing his balance, fell and hit his head on Rebecca’s gravestone and died. Bruce’s mind suppressed the reality and instead created a new one where some muggers murdered his father. This too ties back to Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Future in the MCU

Smart Hulk

Smart Hulk

In the first episode of She-Hulk, Bruce and Jen went on a road trip together. While returning from the same, they collided with a spaceship from the planet Sakaar. Bruce had spent around 2 years on Sakaar and was seen there during Thor: Ragnarok. In the comics, Hulk has a child in Sakaar known as Skaar with Caiera. The MCU could easily combine these two storylines. By giving Bruce a child, it could force Bruce to finally address the trauma and the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father. This way Marvel could parallelly explore these two father-son relationships.

Infact the Sakaarian class 8 courier craft could be trying to reach Bruce for the same purpose. It could be to inform Bruce of the birth of his child. Considering that during Ragnarok, Bruce was completely blocked out while the Hulk was in control, he could have very much tried to start a new life there. Moreover, Hulk doesn’t really seem the kind to think about the consequences of his decisions. This would be the perfect opportunity to show Hulk as more than just a green monster born out of anger.

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