10 Scenes That Most Define Hulk"s MCU Movie Story

  • The Hulk's journey in the MCU showcases evolution through strategic scenes, overshadowing his lack of solo movies.
  • From struggling with transformation to embracing his powers, Bruce Banner's development is pivotal in every film he appears.
  • Seeing The Hulk humbled by Thanos's power in Infinity War leads to the emergence of Smart Hulk, a pivotal evolution in his story.
Of all the heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the arc of The Hulk can be broken down into a handful of distinct scenes. Thanks to the turbulent legal situation regarding distributions rights to a Hulk solo movie, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has only ever been able to release a single film starring the strongest Avenger, 2008's The Incredible Hulk, starring Edward Norton. After re-casting Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, the angry green giant's development had to be done in the sidelines.
Showing up as a supporting character in crossover films and other heroes' titled projects, The Hulk has still been able to support a fascinating personal journey in the MCU. Few other characters have changed as much both physically and psychologically, and as one of the few remaining active members of the original Avengers team, The Hulk has a big legacy to uphold. His many distinct appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's movies each contain one or two standout scenes that contribute the most to his character arc.
10 The Hulk Is Created The Incredible Hulk (2008) Funnily enough, one of the most important scenes in the Hulk's development isn't a scene at all, but an opening montage. In the intro credits of 2008's The Incredible Hulk, the monstrous hero's origin story is wordlessly told through a hectic montage. It depicts Bruce Banner attempting to re-create the famous super soldier serum through an experiment with Gamma Radiation, turning himself into The Hulk.
The vivid, graphic description of Hulk's first rampage makes it incredibly clear why Bruce Banner is so careful to avoid transforming at the beginning of his journey. The clear pain that the damage he caused to his fiancée, Betty Ross, causes Bruce Banner is silently conveyed through Edward Norton's excellent performance, setting the gifted scientist's life on the run into motion. Beyond simply giving him his powers, this sequence had an incredibly profound effect on Dr. Banner's psyche, creating the persona of The Hulk in the first place.
9 Bruce Banner Learns To Control His Transformations The Incredible Hulk (2008) In a sense, Bruce Banner's journey throughout The Incredible Hulk is one of self-control and self-acceptance. Banner spends the majority of the film doing anything he can to avoid transforming, hating The Hulk as a curse meant to be managed at all costs. However, the final moments of his solo film depict Bruce Banner purposely activating a Hulk transformation via meditation, eyes flashing bright green with Gamma radiation.
This is a reflection of Bruce Banner's first voluntary time transforming into The Hulk at the climax of the story, doing so to stop Emil Blonsky, a.k.a. Abomination. Understanding that The Hulk will always be a part of him, Banner now embraces his powers, able to use them for good. Considering The Hulk could easily represent Bruce Banner's childhood trauma, this scene goes further than simply being a cool tease for The Hulk's future appearances -- It represents Bruce Banner coming to terms with his trauma and accepting himself for who he is.
8 Bruce Banner Meets Black Widow For The First Time The Avengers (2012) One of the best dialogue exchanges ever put to film in the MCU is Black Widow's first initial meeting with Bruce Banner. Knowing that The Hulk will be crucial in the formation of the Avengers, Natasha Romanoff is sent in to try to sweet-talk the elusive Dr. Banner into compliance, resulting in a tense stand-off. While Black Widow initially tries a seductive approach, she quickly changes tactics when Bruce calls her bluff, revealing just how scary the threat of a Hulk transformation is.
The subtle details of this scene shine a perfect window into Bruce Banner's mind. Now more comfortable with and in control of his Hulk transformations, Bruce is able to toy with even an experienced operative like Black Widow, not being naive enough to take her promises at face value. On Natasha's part, the dedicated agent switches tactics multiple times to stay on Banner's good side, from flattery, to promises, to eventually being ready to spring into action when things seem to be going ugly. This scene quickly proved Mark Ruffalo's ability to handle the dynamic role of Bruce Banner.
7 “That’s My Secret, Captain…I’m Always Angry” The Avengers (2012) One of the best scenes in The Avengers in general, let alone featuring The Hulk specifically, is also one of Bruce Banner's best quotes in the MCU. As the full might of Loki's Chitauri invasion comes down on New York City, the original Avengers come face to face with a massive flying Leviathan, prompting Captain America to ask Dr. Banner to "get angry." Confidently walking towards the danger, Banner cooly states "That's my secret, Captian...I'm always angry," before transforming effortlessly and decking the alien creature in the face.
SImply put, this is one of The Hulk's coolest scenes in the entire MCU. But it also just goes to show how far Bruce Banner has come in controlling both his emotions and his transformations, becoming The Hulk voluntarily at precisely the right moment despite the stressful circumstances. His exact choice of words also seems to indicate a simmering level of resentment boiling under Banner's unassuming exterior, drawing quesitons as to what the mild-mannered scientist is truly capable of.
6 Hulk Flies Away In The Quinjet Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) In the aftermath of his fight with Tony Stark's Hulkbuster armor, The Hulk seems to have become aware of just how frightened most people are of him. While he's still willing to help out humanity with the threat of Ultron, once the job is done, Hulk seems to only have one thing on his mind. Stealing the Quinjet (and, somehow, piloting it into outer space), The Hulk leaves Earth behind, with not even the pleas of Black Widow able to calm him down.
This is an underrated moment of development for The Hulk himself, rather than Bruce Banner. For the first time, audiences got a deeper look into his motivations beyond his surface-level anger, and The Hulk seemed to have a clear goal -- Escape from the world which hates him. This moment was also beginning of The Hulks' 2-year period of control over his shared body with Bruce Banner, an unprecedented level of dominance.
5 Banner Comes Back After 2 Years Thor: Ragnarok (2017) For the most part, the more comedic Thor movie saw The Hulk sidelined as a similarly goofy supporting character, mostly there to throw out some lighthearted jokes. That being said, Bruce Banner still gets some critical character development when he finally does appear, coming to after The Hulk sees a recording of Black Widow. With a shock, Bruce realizes that not only has he been The Hulk for two years straight, but he's stranded on an alien planet.
Even if the gravity of this realization gets a little lost in the fast pace and jokey script of Thor: Ragnarok, it's a critical moment for Bruce Banner. For the first time, he seems to realize that The Hulk is a being with his own goals and ambitions, willing to follow through with them even if they're in direct opposition to Banner's own desires. This moment made his sacrifice later in the film, willing to turn back into The Hulk to save his homeland not knowing if he would ever come back, all the more heroic.
4 Hulk Loses To Thanos Avengers: Infinity War (2018) By far the most humbling moment in The Hulk's life was the first time he was outmatched in raw strength by another opponent. While The Hulk had been defeated before, never were the circumstances as dire as his short battle with Thanos. Being utterly manhandled by the Mad Titan, Hulk was unable to save all the Asgardian lives taken by Thanos and his black order, nearly being killed himself.
This humbling moment utterly shattered The Hulk's confidence. Rather than hijacking Banner's body, The Hulk would refuse to come out following this total defeat, leaving Banner on his own in fighting Thanos' alien invaders. It would be a long time before The Hulk would ever recover from this humiliating loss, with Bruce Banner forced to find alternate ways to contribute to The Avengers in the meantime.
3 Smart Hulk Is Born Avengers: Endgame (2019) While one of the most important scenes of Hulk's story in the MCU technically happens off-screen, the first time the movies show Smart Hulk is a truly pivotal moment in his MCU journey. In a diner, Bruce Banner meets up with Scott Lang to discuss the past five years, at the same time introducing his new form. As Smart Hulk, Bruce Banner has the brains and personality of Bruce Banner while maintaining the physique and impressive strength of the Hulk, seemingly combining both personalities into one cohesive whole.
How exactly Bruce Banner was able to accomplish this remains something of a mystery, but the advent of Smart Hulk is by far the biggest change in The Hulk's story in the MCU. No longer having to guard himself against dangerous rampages or be unable to even summon the sulking Hulk in the first place, the five years following Thanos' snap were extremely kind to Bruce Banner. It's a shame the deleted scene actually showing Smart Hulk's transformation didn't make it into the final film.
2 Hulk Uses The Infinity Stones Avengers: Endgame (2019) Once The Avengers have finally succeeded in obtaining all six Infinity Stones following the time heist, the question remains as to who should be the one to attempt to reverse Thanos' damage. Bruce declares that the intense radiation emitted from the Stones is "mostly Gamma," indicating that, as The Hulk, he might be uniquely suited to surviving their awesome power. After claiming "It's like...I was made for this," Bruce Banner accepts his heroic duty and undergoes the ordeal of using the Infinity Stones.
Dr. Bruce Banner is no stranger to noble sacrifices, having made plenty over the course of his MCU career. But his activation of the Infinity Stones, despite knowing the damage they can cause, was one of his most selfless acts ever, and is directly responsible for the famous portal scene later on in the final battle even being possible. Beyond this, the act establishes Hulk acting out what he sees to be his destiny, creating a satisfying conclusion to his initial arc in the series.
1 Hulk Introduces His Son She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (2022) Most of The Hulk's purpose in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law was to help guide his cousin through the process of controlling her Hulk powers, only to find that Jen is something of a natural. Mostly regulated to comedic relief once again, the series hints at some development for Hulk as he returns to space once more, going back to Sakaar for unknown reasons. The series finale reveals what he was doing, as The Hulk introduces his son, Skaar, to the Banner family back on Earth.
The existence of Skaar raises a lot of questions, but Banner's willingness to take him in as his own and introduce him to his human family speaks volumes towards his character. Amusingly, the only one to even comment on Skaar's out-of-place appearance at the low-key family gathering is Daredevil, a blind vigilante. Hopefully, Skaar can continue to appear in the MCU's Young Avengers lineup after being introduced by The Hulk.
Upcoming Marvel Movies Release Date Deadpool & Wolverine July 26, 2024 Captain America: Brave New World February 14, 2025 Thunderbolts* May 2, 2025 The Fantastic Four July 25, 2025 Blade November 7, 2025 Avengers: The Kang Dynasty May 1, 2026 Avengers: Secret Wars May 7, 2027


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