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Avengers: Endgame was a watershed moment in the MCU for many reasons.
Directors Joe and Anthony Russo crammed so much character development into their three-hour runtime that even now, more than one year after its theatrical debut, the Internet continues to pore over each and every frame with a mixture of curiosity and sheer wonderment.
Indeed, earlier this week, the Russo Brothers re-watched Avengers: Endgame in its entirety, and tweeted out some fun Marvel-related trivia. Said tidbits range from Captain America to the role of Bucky Barnes, but the two filmmakers also touched base on Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, and why the Jade Giant has been changed forevermore.
In short: the original Hulk no longer exists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe; Bruce Banner has fused the brains with the brawn to make Professor Hulk (or Smart Hulk). And that is, essentially, the new normal for Mark Ruffalo’s rage monster amicable giant.
The personality that now exists is a new entity… it is a merger of Bruce Banner and the Hulk. #AvengersAssemble.
World War Hulk Fan Poster Imagines Mark Ruffalo's Solo MCU Debut
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Let’s not forget that Thor: Ragnarok kicked off a three-movie arc for Marvel’s Hulk, during which time he reigned over Sakaar as their gladiatorial champion, before coming to blows with Thanos. The latter event proved to be a defining moment for Bruce Banner, who effectively lost control of his alter-ego for much of Infinity War.
Fast forward to Avengers: Endgame, and the Russo Brothers introduced an entirely new entity in Professor Hulk, who is able to hold a conversation with his costumed allies without descending into a fit of rage. Frankly, it makes for a much more interesting character, particularly when it comes to Endgame‘s Time Heist – a feat of engineering, physics, and dumb luck that Smart Hulk helped oversee.