Spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War. But seriously, you guys need to get your priorities in order and watch the damn movie already.
Yes, the title of the article is a misdirect (to prevent people who have not watched the movie from guessing what exactly it’s about), just like Hulk’s involvement in the climactic battle sequence in Wakanda, as seen in the trailer. The handling of Bruce Banner/Hulk is perhaps the most polarizing aspect of Avengers: Infinity War. After Hulk gets treated like a rag doll by Thanos, in the opening sequence, he doesn’t make another appearance throughout Infinity War. Every time Bruce tries to transform, the green monster inside of him screams “Noooo,” even in situations where Bruce Banner’s life is in serious danger.
Fans left cinemas divided. Some are defending the Russo brothers’ decision, saying it would make sense for Hulk to no-show as he’s afraid after getting the beating of his lifetime, while others felt that the Russos, in some ways, ruined what made Hulk a menacing figure. In a recent Q&A with NPR’s Linda Holmes at George Washington University (via Fansided), the Russos explained their decision:
“We have to be careful with the character of Banner. Because if every time he’s in trouble Hulk saves him, Hulk becomes the hero and he becomes whiny. We wanted to force Banner to be the hero.”
I find myself stuck in the middle. My issue isn’t with the intention, but rather, the execution. Let’s look at both arguments that are in defense of Hulk’s arc in Infinity War.
1. Hulk is afraid after getting his ass whooped.
It makes perfect sense that Hulk would be afraid to come out after getting his ass whooped. After all, he’s not used to being on the losing end of a fight. But I would have loved to see the psychological effects of the beatdown played in a more serious, dramatic manner, where we feel Banner’s internal struggle and fear. Unfortunately, in the movie, it’s played off as comedy. Instead of understanding Hulk’s trauma, we laugh at Banner’s inability to transform.
2. Banner should be a hero even without Hulk.
I think back to Iron Man 3, which is more a Tony Stark movie than it is an Iron Man movie. In that movie, director Shane Black explores Tony Stark in-depth as we take a look at the man behind the suit. Iron Man 3 is both important and intriguing as it proves that Tony is a hero even without his suits. He IS Iron Man. The difference is, in Iron Man 3, Tony’s genius is on full display. In Infinity War, the Russo brother’s idea of making Bruce Banner a hero is by putting him in a giant, armoured suit, The Hulkbuster. So, he’s essentially still Hulk — big, strong and nearly invincible — just not nearly as awesome?
A better way to showcase Banner’s heroism would’ve been to have him stay in the laboratory with Shuri, and help her remove the Mind Stone from Vision. And when the Children of Thanos attack, Banner could use blasters alongside Shuri to try and take them down. What makes Bruce Banner an interesting character is that as a human, he’s an insanely smart and introverted guy, but when his alter ego, Hulk takes over, he’s all brawn and no brains.