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The Deleted Smart Hulk Scenes We Never Got To See

Bruce Banner and his angry, green alter-ego almost came to an understanding one movie sooner.

In a recent conversation with Vanity Fair, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely revealed that Smart Hulk almost made his dramatic debut in the third act of the earlier film, during the battle of Wakanda.

The wide-ranging interview pulled back the curtain on the completely insane process by which the two scribes hammered out the stories for the epic movies, which involved the use of custom-made, collectible-style character cards which they could put in play, remove, or shuffle around at will. Banner's transformation into Smart Hulk (or Professor Hulk, if you will) was set to take place during Infinity War at a time in the scripting process during which the film's final act was completely different from the one we eventually ended up seeing; this was just one of many portions of the movie for which alternate versions were scripted. In this early version, each of the Avengers faced a gut check before the final battle in Wakanda — a gut check of a very Strange nature.

"The alternate versions were sort of side roads... for characters who had left the plot behind," Markus explained. "It would be entertaining and it would be interesting and it would be cool to look at, but it would cause you to pause on the Thanos plot, and suck the air out of it. There was a sequence in [Infinity War] where [the Avengers] went into the places in the Doctor Strange universe called the Mindscape, and everyone faces themselves. It was great but had absolutely nothing to do with anything."

McFeely elaborated, "Banner meets the Hulk, I think in the arena from [Thor: Ragnarok]. Only one of them was getting out of there, and then that one showed up in Wakanda [in Infinity War], and he had merged. That merging that currently happens in [Endgame] in a diner, and he's eating a huge stack of pancakes? That initially happened at the end of Infinity War."

The scribe continued to say that if this had been kept, Hulk's entrance into the Battle of Wakanda would have been pretty damn memorable. "The Hulk refuses to come out, if you remember, and [in the early story line] they eventually came to a realization or a compromise, and [Hulk] busted out of the [Hulkbuster Iron Man armor that Banner was wearing during the battle], and beats the heck out of this [monster]."

Why was Smart Hulk's introduction delayed until Endgame?

Okay, we've got to say that this would have been absolutely bonkers, whereas Smart Hulk's introduction in the diner scene in Avengers: Endgame was ever-so-slightly less kickass. Breaking down the reason for the change, though, McFeely pointed out that one too many victorious moments during that fateful melee would have diluted Avengers: Infinity War's march toward Thanos' ultimate victory — and in doing so, he also revealed that the two movies' weird shooting schedule meant that a key Endgame scene had to be re-shot once it was determined that Smart Hulk wouldn't pop up in Infinity War.

"That whole third act is a march toward losing, and this Hulk scene is a big win, right? It's a guy solving his problem and being a funny character because now he's eloquent," McFeely said. "We had to, at the last second, scrap all that, put aside all these scenes that used to have Smart Hulk, and then reshoot the first act of Endgame, going to Thanos's country lodge, that used to have the Smart Hulk."

Markus elaborated that there was another reason for pushing off Smart Hulk's debut until the first act of Endgame: to help illustrate the seismic changes undergone by each original Avenger during that movie's time jump.

"We wanted everybody to have this enormous journey in the five-year jump [after the snap], and to really see, in sometimes shocking ways, how the loss had affected them," he explained. "We hadn't given Banner [a change] because we had transformed him earlier, and he had nowhere to go. And suddenly, by needing to take it out of the first movie, it [became] the perfect thing."

This helps to explain a significant mystery: how and why Hulk, in all his green glory, was shown at the Battle of Wakanda in the trailers for Infinity War. Markus and McFeely confirmed that portions of the climactic battle were shot in which Banner indeed went into battle as the Hulk, but those scenes also had to be removed (and repurposed for intentionally misleading trailers) and then re-shot.

It all serves to illustrate why everyone is still interested in parsing out the finer points of how Infinity War and Endgame were produced so long after the fact; there are probably no two blockbusters in existence with more moving parts, and it's easy to see how things could have gone disastrously wrong at virtually any stage. Fortunately for the Marvel faithful and fans of superhero cinema all over the world, Markus, McFeely, and co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo somehow managed to make all of those moving parts sync up as close to perfectly as seems possible — resulting in two of the finest comic book movies ever made, and in the case if Endgame, the single biggest film of all time.

Still... we would have absolutely freaked out to see Hulk literally busting the Hulkbuster suit. Unfortunately, when you're in the ultra-blockbuster business, even some perfect moments have to go in service of an even more perfect whole.