Avengers: Endgame changed everything in the MCU. It reduced the number of Avengers by killing 2 members (Iron Man and Black Widow) and then sending one back to the time he came from (Captain America). Along with this, the movie introduced Smart Hulk, a new version of Hulk.
Apart from introducing him, the movie also gave him a pretty big injury when he was wielding the Infinity Gauntlet for the first time. And this might result in him being out of commission for some time. If you are asking why? Then we have the answers.
Hulk was first introduced in The Avengers. There his job was to pretty much smash things. This characterization continued till Thor: Ragnarok where he was given more to do. Well, at least he argued with Thor there.
After that, we met Smart Hulk. This version of Hulk was made because Dr. Bruce Banner merged the best parts of him with that of the green monster inside him. In Endgame, Smart Hulk was able to prevent himself from smashing things, and instead, he put his powers to more constructive use.
For one, he was powerful enough to put on the Infinity Gauntlet and bring back the population that was snapped out of existence. However, his actions had consequences.
After Thanos’ defeat in Endgame, Hulk’s gauntlet-wielding arm could still be seen in a sling during Tony Stark’s funeral. So his arm hadn’t healed quickly back then. Now, it’s possible that his arm will quickly heal in the future.
But it’s also possible that there has been nerve damage that will take much longer to heal. This could, in turn, result in Hulk being weakened in Phase 4 of the MCU.
As such, he could get benched from missions where he would typically be needed. However, with superhero injuries, it’s really rare that anything beyond death stops heroes.
But since Hulk’s injuries were the result of the Infinity Stones, so this could be a severe injury. After all, those stones were powerful enough to permanently damage and burn the entirety of Thanos’ left arm.
Now, this long-term healing (or if his arm ever actually heals) occurring in Phase Four of the MCU makes sense. After all, this will leave the Hulk out of commission when it comes to helping others in the upcoming movies and tv shows.
This includes his cousin’s show (She-Hulk) as well. However, we already know that Mark Ruffalo will be reprising his role as Bruce Banner or Smart Hulk in the She-Hulk Disney+ show.
But he might just be around a little, probably just to give advice to his cousin rather than helping her in battles. Who knows, he might open his own bar in the meantime. After all, the wrap t-shirts for She-Hulk had a picture of Bruce and Jennifer in a bar named “Bruce’s Bar.”
Bruce not being there will allow She-Hulk to establish herself in her own show. It will allow her to show off her power set and characterization without needing Hulk for backup.
It’s also possible that this hiatus will aid in the development of Smart Hulk’s character. After all, the MCU has not quite explored a superhero recovering from a potentially long-term injury.
Overall, if done well, it will allow other heroes to shine while still furthering Smart Hulk/Bruce Banner’s character development.
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