Thor: Ragnarok was a fun, fast-paced, dynamic superhero film that restored the mighty Thor to greatness, but it may have also given us an incredible Hulk bent on murder. Wait. What? Did you and I see the same movie? I’m dead serious.
You’ll recall that at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron a sadful Hulk — unable to control his rage — fled the scene in a Stark Quinjet, headed for parts unknown. Sometime later he appeared on the backwater planet of Sakaar, where he was (somehow) tossed into a gladiator pit. Jeff Goldblum’s maniacal Grandmaster pitted the green goliath against all comers (although we do not see any of his previous bouts). Hulk not only survived, he prospered and became the face of the Grandmaster’s endless tournament.
Now, if you stop and ponder this for a moment, you’ll realize that Hulk probably wasn’t pinning his opponents, nor were they otherwise tapping out to fight another day. Re-watch the big brawl between Thor and Hulk: it’s vicious — the only reason Thor survived was due to his near-immortal, Norse lineage. So, it’s hardly a stretch to suggest Hulk that killed everyone and everything he faced in those pits. Did you think he was giving backrubs with that hammer and axe combo?
Proof of the Hulk’s multi-year-killing-spree can be found in this bit of throw-away dialog by Korg, another gladiator imprisoned on Sakaar. Thor meets Korg in the Grandmaster’s holding cell, and learns about Hulk (aka the “Champion”):
THOR: “Has anyone here fought the Grandmaster’s champion?”
KORG: “Yeah. Doug has. Hey, Doug. Could you come over here? Oh, yeah. I forgot. Doug’s dead.”
Now, if you accept that Hulk was stranded on Sakaar for rougly two years, and even if he only fought once a week, he’s accumulated a triple digit body count. Even if Hulk doesn’t love killing, he’s been doing it long enough to make it a big part of who and what he is.
Does this mean that Hulk returns to Earth in Avengers: Infinity War even more violent then he when he departed? How does this change affect his violent rage? Remember that Hulk could barely speak in both prior Avengers‘ films, but in Ragnarok, he was depicted with the intelligence, demeanor, and lexicon of a child. Here’s the big question: who is he now and what is he capable of?
According to Mark Ruffalo, who spoke with the AP at last year’s Comic-Con, here’s how he approached this new version of Hulk:
“Really, I’m playing a three-year-old as the Hulk… Really rudimentary, but so funny and so volatile and so reactionary.”
Hulk’s status is one of the major wildcards in Avengers: Infinity War. He’s a major X-factor in the coming conflict with Thanos. So far, all we’ve seen is Hulk running around on team Cap in the Infinity War trailer, but it’s unclear what his relationship is with everyone around him.
The final (and maybe biggest) questions: how does Marvel address Hulk’s disappearance, explain his time on Sakaar, and handle his integration back into the Avengers fold? I do not possess these answers, which is why I’m asking you. Ultimately, this is not the same Hulk who fled the Earth. Even though Hulk was ultimately heroic in Ragnarok, it’s hard to imagine him playing nice with all of his former MCU allies — just wait’ll they realize how many people/creatures/monsters he’s killed. Awkward!
What do you expect from Ruffalo’s Hulk in Avengers: Infinity War? Let us know in the comments down below!