I remember watching the 2003 Hulk movie with my cousins when it first came out. Back then, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was something that nobody could even fathom happening and superhero movies were nothing as grand as they are today.
Although I was only eleven years old at that point (and my memories of being eleven are now spotty at best) there are still scenes in my head that stick out. In a way, it was at that point where I first gained an interest in the character of Bruce Banner and his alter ego, though it wasn’t prominent and existed as more of an afterthought at the back of my mind.
Cut to 2008, when Edward Norton played the role and the MCU was becoming a plausible concept. I remember watching this movie more for entertainment purposes than anything else. It was a decent movie, no doubt, but as with other people I was more hyped up with the post-credits scene where Tony Stark appears and makes the MCU so much more tangible.
Then came 2012 and Marvel’s Avengers where Mark Ruffalo took the world by surprise with his fresh portrayal of Bruce Banner and the Hulk. Critics praised his performance and millions of people found themselves in love with the Hulk for the first time ever, including myself. Four years later, I remain an avid fan of Bruce Banner as I had been when the character truly clicked with me, due to Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal of him in the Avengers (even now I’m wearing a Bruce Banner/Hulk t-shirt as I write this piece).
Since the Avengers, Bruce Banner has taken a more prominent role in the MCU: a cameo in Iron Man 3, a return in Age of Ultron, and now taking on a bigger role in the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok.
It’s a testament to how much the fans love the character. I’m not ashamed to admit how much I really love this current version and portrayal of Bruce Banner. Like any fan, I have my own wishes on where he’ll go. That said, I’d like to take this time to talk about the Five Things I Hope For Bruce Banner in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
1. No ‘Planet Hulk’ Storyline, Please
Planet Hulk, as the average comic fan would most likely know (or the obsessed Bruce Banner fan like me will have read up on) is a storyline where Bruce finds himself on an alien planet where he’s forced to slavery and has to fight in gladiator-like battles. It ends with him overthrowing the previous king and taking over the planet, having two children with a native there and eventually returning to Earth for revenge because the Avengers were the reason he ended out there in the first place (It’s Complicated).
Don’t get me wrong: in the comics it’s a great storyline, and I have no real issues with it. The issue I do have is people wanting this storyline to happen in the MCU, because it frankly makes no sense in this universe.
In the comics Bruce’s relationship with the Avengers tends to be somewhat antagonistic at best (to my not very extensive knowledge), and he’s far from the easiest person to be with. In the movies, however, Bruce’s relationship with the rest is in a far better light—he’s close friends with Tony, has a good rapport with the others and is in a much better position than his comic counterpart ever had been. There’s literally no reason ever why the Avengers in this universe would try to do anything like what had been done to him in the comics.
Beyond that, the other issue is that a Planet Hulk storyline does a disservice to what the MCU has been doing for the character of Bruce Banner. The draw of Bruce in the MCU is in the character of Bruce himself and the humanity that he portrays instead of the angry, bitter person he tends to be in the comics. His portrayal in the movies gives a new perspective and light that’s rarely seen in said comics.
By doing a Planet Hulk storyline in the MCU is to ruin that very portrayal and relegating Bruce himself into a side character for his alter ego which is the last thing that should happen here. The character of Bruce Banner is what made fans and critics love him and I think that’s what should be kept in mind.