How many characters have had a bad run in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? I would say not very many, but there are a small handful that haven’t had as good character development as other characters. For instance, let’s take a look at the original members of the Avengers. Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and Black Widow have all gotten their own solo movies, while Hawkeye is getting his own Disney+ show. Sure, you can argue the Black Widow movie is long overdue, but at least she’s finally getting one. Guess who hasn’t received their own movie or show yet? Our favorite angry green monster, The Hulk, or Bruce Banner in his human form.
Now yes, you can point to his 2008 movie, The Incredible Hulk, and technically, it is considered canon. However, from our point of view, it’s actually kind of hard to consider it canon to the MCU timeline. It’s not hard to see why, mostly because we’re all used to seeing Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner. We only got to see Edward Norton as Bruce Banner once and only once. Heck, the only connection to the MCU it made was in the post-credits scene where Tony Stark met with General Thunderbolt Ross. That’s pretty much where it ended. As much as I liked Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, Mark Ruffalo was the perfect choice to replace him. At this point, it’s hard to see anyone else as Bruce Banner other than Mark Ruffalo. Edward Norton is a phenomenal actor, but his version of the character is a distant memory.
Up until 2016, we couldn’t really connect The Incredible Hulk to the MCU. However, once Thunderbolt Ross appeared once again in Captain America: Civil War, it raised a lot of questions. For one, did this mean the MCU would bring back the characters from The Incredible Hulk? If that were the case, how would it affect the future of Bruce Banner? Well, Kevin Feige did confirm that Emil Blonksy, aka The Abomination would be returning for the She-Hulk show. That tells me it’s only a matter of time before we see other characters from the movie return.
And who was the most significant supporting character from The Incredible Hulk? Bruce Banner’s primary love interest, Betty Ross. The more I see Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner, the more I wonder where Betty has been. Better yet, how come he hasn’t mentioned her? Up until recently, I thought it was because Marvel was choosing to ignore the events of The Incredible Hulk. But after Thunderbolt Ross made his return to the MCU, and Abomination will be returning in She-Hulk, I have a strong feeling we’ll be seeing Betty again.
Now let’s just say Betty does return like the other characters from The Incredible Hulk. We know Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk won’t be getting his own movie (very complicated movie rights), but we also know he’ll continue with his supporting role for future MCU movies. As of now, he’s currently Professor Hulk dealing with his injury after doing the blip. I predict he’ll be spending his time conducting experiments, eating large stacks of pancakes, and dabbing for photos. When another big MCU movie comes around, he could be a mentor for younger, less experienced heroes who want to become Avengers. It’s a suitable role for him, considering he’s a founding member of the Avengers, a genius scientist, and on top of that, he has the body of the friggin Hulk.
Now we Marvel fans just can’t help but wonder if the real Hulk will ever resurface. Many fans were disappointed that the angry Hulk never took over to have a rematch with Thanos. It seems that Thanos literally beat that Hulk into submission forever. Since Thanos is indirectly responsible for Natasha’s death, the mere sight of him would of prompted The Hulk to take over his body again. But, that didn’t happen and understandably so, many fans were disappointed. I really applaud the Russo Brothers for doing something different and to me, Professor Hulk worked. However, I was a bit disappointed that the real Hulk never returned for some payback. Call it a missed opportunity, but Marvel can still work with Bruce Banner being Professor Hulk.
So I’ll just say, the Bruce and Betty reunion is inevitable. Now that Bruce is Professor Hulk, that would make for an interesting interaction. Last time they were together (technically it was Edward, but not anymore), Bruce was adamant about curing himself, while Betty highly encouraged him to learn how to control it. Bruce, of course, constantly rejected this idea, claiming that controlling The Hulk would be impossible. Now that Bruce has fully learned to control The Hulk, live with it, and even embrace it, just imagine what Betty’s reaction would be if she saw him as Professor Hulk. I can imagine she would be shocked at first, but I think she would ultimately be proud of him and how he finally learned to live with The Hulk.
After all, he is the one who brought back everyone who got dusted, which apparently included her. She blipped and he didn’t, so she would have a lot of questions. We could even get our actual look on how Bruce learned to control The Hulk and see the experiment that caused him to transform into Professor Hulk via flashback. The drama would come in because with Natasha gone and Betty returning, Bruce has another chance at love. If he wants to be with Betty, he’ll have to figure out a way to revert back to his Bruce Banner form. Okay, now I think we all agree that the Bruce and Natasha romance was a bit of a waste. I guess Bruce somehow forgot about Betty when Natasha was hitting on him, but hey, I guess he needed some love.
So Natasha’s gone and I’m confident that Betty will return. If she does, Bruce will have to choose between her and being Professor Hulk. I think that would be an easy choice for him. The challenge, however, would be reverting back to Bruce Banner so he could have a life with Betty. At that point, someone (Leader?) can appear and cause The Hulk to reappear. Heck, since The Abomination is returning, could we expect a rematch between him and The Hulk? If that happens, Bruce could lose Betty again. It could, however, end differently than last time. Now that the world has accepted The Hulk, he might have no reason to run. Betty could calm The Hulk down and he’ll revert back to Bruce Banner form. This could lead to the peaceful life that Bruce has been craving for years.
So what do you think, Marvel fans? Will we ever see the real Hulk again?