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Avengers: Endgame explained: The Hulk's closing scene

Mark Ruffalo on bridging the gap between man and monster
April 27, 2019 at 11:00 AM EDT

Hulk didn’t want to come out to play in Infinity War, but in Avengers: Endgame it’s a different story.

Mark Ruffalo gets to add a whole new dimension than Bruce Banner, too.

The Oscar-nominated actor has always performed the big green guy via motion capture, but this time there’s extra savoir-faire.

Let’s explore this new iteration of Hulk ….

***Spoilers Below***

©Marvel Studios 2019

When we weren’t even looking, Hulk managed to achieve something we never expected — harmony.

In the five years since The Snap, Bruce Banner and the Hulk have stopped fighting for control of their body and figured out a way to share. The result is known as Professor Hulk, a dapper, charming monster who has a little more edge and swagger than puny Bruce, a much greener hue and a little gray around the temples, too.

“These are confusing times,” Professor Hulk explains. “I know! It’s crazy. I’m wearing shirts now! “

Feeling just as devastated as everyone else after The Snap, Hulk and Banner came to a truce.

Reunited, and It Feels So Good

“For years I treated The Hulk like he’s some kind of disease, something to get rid of. Then I started looking at him as the cure,” Banner/Hulk says. “Eighteen months in the gamma lab, I put the brains and the brawn together. And now look at me — best of both worlds!”

In the first Avengers film, and in the Edward Norton Incredible Hulk movie that preceded it, Bruce Banner was at war with the Hulk. His transformation was a curse, albeit one that occasionally helped save the day — when it wasn’t making things worse.

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Ruffalo previously played The Hulk like a cranky little kid, one who has the power to do good counterbalanced against an unbridled urge to SMASH. But even back on the set of Age of Ultron, Ruffalo saw where this was going. He foreshadowed the rise of Professor Hulk

“It’s about a kind of a maturity that comes to the character,” Ruffalo told EW. “‘Okay, it is what it is, so how do I live next to this in a way that I can still have a life? Maybe this monster is equally a part of me, and I can never really get rid of it.’”

Ruffalo is found of saying The Avengers is a metaphor for divided people, populations fraught with differences who nonetheless can put them aside and unite for the common good. Now Hulk and Banner are the individual version of that, in one body.

Hulk’s Heartbreak

He retains the strength of the monster, but the brain of Bruce. The time-travel experiment wouldn’t have happened without him, and The Ancient One would never have been reasoned out of her Time Stone without Professor Hulk’s charm and logic.

By the end of the movie, he has put his brawling to work, too, and when he puts on Tony Stark’s mechanical gauntlet to undo The Snap, he suffers a serious — but not life-threatening burn from the surge of energy it unleashed.

It would have killed a normal human, and later … we see that happen.

In the aftermath, Hulk coordinates the fulfillment of his promise to The Ancient One: Captain America will travel back to the branches of time where they got the stones and replace them one by one, bringing those timelines back into alignment with the central one.

But before Cap goes (and decides to stay for a much, much longer journey), Professor Hulk makes a heartbreaking confession about his friend and one-time love interest Natasha Romanoff, who sacrificed herself to retrieve the Soul Stone.

“You know, I tried,” Hulk tells Cap. “When I had the gauntlet, the stones, I really tried to bring her back.”

For the first time in this movie, Hulk doesn’t have the words.

“I miss her, man,” he says.

And that’s where we leave him. The combined Hulk, wishing he could save the person he once thought might be his better half.

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