The future for Marvel's not-so-jolly green giant is a bright one. Bruce Banner/the Hulk has not been seen much since his moment as Professor Hulk in Avengers: Endgame, but is set to reinsert himself into the MCU as he features prominently in this summer's She-Hulk: Attorney At Law. The last audiences saw of Banner was in the post-credits scene for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, as he looked to have left his spectacled green persona in the rearview (at least for now).
Fans of the walking, talking battering ram have not had a lot of Hulk action to enjoy in recent years. The character did go up against Thanos in the Russo Brothers' Avengers: Infinity War, but, to many, he was sapped of his power in that film's follow-up.
This "nerfing" to become Professor Hulk has been a sticking point for lovers of Bruce Banner's angry side, so much so that it has become one of the biggest complaints for some people when talking about Endgame. Now, more than three years after the conclusion of the Infinity Saga, that film's directors have finally addressed their changes to the MCU's massive green hero.
The Russo Brothers Tell All
In a new video on WIRED, Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo addressed various internet questions regarding their Marvel Studios work, including why they depowered the MCU's Hulk.
When asked why the two "hate the Hulk," they both jokingly answered by saying they "nerfed the Hulk" and "just didn’t know what to do with him" in Avengers: Endgame:
Joe: “Oh, we nerfed the Hulk. We nerfed him. We just didn’t know what to do with him. We were like, ’What, this big powerful character. What we do with this big powerful character?”
Anthony: “Can you find out who wrote this question? I’d like to talk to them.”
Offscreen: “What would you say to them?”
Joe: “To say to people who think we nerfed the Hulk? He deserved it. Lots of controversial… Marvel fans responding.”
In a similar vein, the Russo Brothers addressed who they thought the strongest Avenger was. Joe and Anthony answered that they "said, Wanda, at one point...Captain Marvel, another point," but made sure to say it is "certainly not the Hulk:"
Joe: “We said, Wanda, at one point. Captain Marvel, another point. Thor.”
Anthony: “Certainly never said it’s the Hulk.”
Joe: “Certainly not the Hulk. He’d be low on the list. Like right underneath Groo. Remember Groo the Wanderer? He’s like just below Groo the Wanderer.”
The directing duo rounded their chat out by answering questions about the Infinity War and Endgame deaths of Loki and Iron Man, joking that they both "deserved to die."
Why Hulk Got Weaker
Listening to these quotes (despite the two directors evidently joking) and looking deeply at what was put on screen in Endgame, it is not hard to tell that the Hulk presented a massive problem for the Russo Brothers in their writing process. How does a massive green monster fit into a story about losing half of the universe? It is a question that the two directors pondered deeply.
While comparing him to long-lost Marvel character Groo The Wanderer may be a bit of a low blow, it's easy to see that the pair do not have a lot to say about Bruce Banner/Hulk.
That is not to say there are no good stories to tell including the character. Just look at Thor: Ragnarok and the upcoming She-Hulk. But Joe and Anthony Russo are not the pair to take on those tales.
And at least they had Hulk around in Endgame, albeit in Professor Hulk form. After the character was clowned out by Thanos in the opening moments of Infinity War, it felt as though fans may never hear from Banner's alter-ego again. But the fact that they figured out how to make him makes sense in the story as Professor Hulk should be celebrated.
Avengers: Endgame is available to stream now on Disney+.