She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is currently airing on Disney+, and it’s certainly grabbing the attention of fans worldwide—for better or for worse. One part that’s drawing positive sentiment and intrigue is the future of Smart Hulk. While he played a big role in the first episode, he’s since lefts planet Earth on a Sakaaran spaceship.
Many think this plot point is teasing the introduction of Skaar, Hulk’s son in the comics. There’s also the thought process that those shocking developments are paving the way for the long-rumored World War Hulk film.
The idea of a feature film for Mark Ruffalo’s former Avenger is an idea that the actor has previously said he’d be up for it, saying “Anytime they want to do it, I’m here.”
Now it seems that the man behind Bruce Banner himself may have teased the next evolution of Hulk—and it might be derived from a scrapped Avengers: Age of Ultron.
The Age of Angry Hulk
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Hulk actor Mark Ruffalo opened up about where his character is now in the MCU after fourteen years.
Ruffalo noted how his role could “morph into anything” going forward, including potentially adapting “Berserker Hulk” or “World War Hulk:”
“The cool thing about this world is that it could just be anything… five years from now it could totally morph into anything, whatever’s pertinent at the time. I almost see him going back to ‘Berserker Hulk’ or ‘World War Hulk’. It could go anywhere. That’s the exciting part — I’ve played five different versions from beginning to now, and that’s kept it interesting for me and I hope interesting for other people.”
While World War Hulk should be familiar to fans of the character and his comic history, the mention of Berserker Hulk is a variation of the character that never made it on screen.
The concept was originally something meant to play in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Previously, while talking with Screenrant, VFX supervisor Christopher Townsend spoke about how they had started designing a Gray Hulk for when he went up against the Hulkbuster.
"I spoke with VFX supervisor Christopher Townsend about this revelation last week and asked how far the VFX teams got with designing the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of the Gray Hulk and how different he’d look and act."
The VFX artist noted that Joss Whedon, the film’s director, wanted to do “Berserker Hulk,” which included things like “crooked teeth” and “red eyes:”
“What Joss wanted to do was he said, ‘I wanted to have a Hulk that’s this berserker Hulk.’ Berserker Hulk was this Hulk that Hulks out, was what we had come up with on set. And then we sort of started talking about, ‘Well what are those extremes?’ And [Industrial Light and Magic] started playing with a deformed body with a deformed face with one eye larger than another. You know, like crooked teeth, and drooling, and red eyes, and all this kind of stuff.”
During that process, they ended up making Hulk “grayer and grayer” until the team “effectively… got Gray Hulk.”
“Then we started playing with color and we started to de-saturate him and give him sort of red around his eyes and made him look strung-out heroin addict Hulk was the idea. Sort of like where he has totally lost it and he’s gone totally crazy. And then we gradually tended towards a grayer and grayer version till effectively we got gray Hulk.”
Townsend went on to admit that they “tried a few shots in the film,” but eventually decided to “[back] off” of the idea:
“We tried a few shots in the film with that sort of much grayer version. And then we’re thinking, “Will people confuse this with the gray Hulk from the comics? And is that a good thing or a bad thing?” Eventually, I think we backed off a little bit of that and made him greener so that…we didn’t want to confuse people in creating a new character, per se, in that way. So we ultimately backed off. But we had gone pretty extreme in the looks for him.”
Will Bruce Get Mad Once Again?
While Smart Hulk is the culmination of over a decade of storytelling for the character, no one can deny that many fans want to see a return to form when it comes to Banner’s alter ego.
But how exactly might this new, angrier Berserker Hulk come to be? Could Scarlet Witch play into it, seeing as she just had a villainous turn and also nearly brought out Gray Hulk in Age of Ultron?
Maybe Bruce Banner thought he had peacefully combined his two identities, but in actuality, maybe Hulk has been imprisoned ever since the creation of Smart Hulk. This could make for quite the angry adversary if he ever gets free—possibly turning him into World Breaker or Gray Hulk, maybe even Maestro.
Whatever events unfold to get the world a hypothetical World War Hulk movie, they’ll almost certainly culminate in a very angry green—or gray—rage monster.
While San Diego Comic-Con 2022 didn’t offer up any news about Hulk’s future in the MCU, hopefully, Marvel Studios’ presentation at the upcoming D23 event will remedy that.
Until then, audiences can catch up with She-Hulk on Disney+, with new episodes dropping every Thursday.