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Mark Ruffalo's Hulk could be done with the MCU for good

The Marvel Cinematic Universe may have seen the last of the Green Goliath.

In a recent interview, Mark Ruffalo — who has portrayed the Hulk in the MCU since 2012's The Avengers — indicated that 2019's Avengers: Endgame was intended to wrap up Bruce Banner's arc in the franchise. Ruffalo did indicate that he wasn't privy to the thoughts of Marvel's brass on a possible return for Bruce Banner — and it should also be noted that, considering his demeanor, he may just have been trying to avoid dropping a spoiler, for which he has become notorious.

During a visit to The Graham Norton Show, Ruffalo was asked if he expected to be saddling up as Banner/Hulk in the future. He responded, "I don't know" (perhaps a touch too defensively), before quickly covering his mouth; he appeared to be choosing his next words very carefully. "It is supposed to be over, and [Endgame] was supposed to be the end," he said — and while that certainly doesn't rule anything out, it is interesting to hear that Endgame was intended to be the curtain call for the Hulk, which the flick's directors Joe and Anthony Russo have never stated publicly.

Of course, there exists the possibility that Ruffalo is a big, fat fibber, that he knows full well that there is a plan for the Hulk to return, and that considering his long and well-documented history of blabbing spoilers to anybody who will listen, he is now overcorrecting in the opposite direction. If indeed the Hulk is done in the MCU, though, it can never be said that he wasn't given a hell of a heroic sendoff.

Hulk was given a heroic conclusion in Avengers: Endgame

You may recall that after Endgame's five-year time jump, it was revealed that Banner had successfully merged the two sides of his personality to become Smart Hulk — with all the brains of puny Banner, and all the brawn of his not-so-jolly green alter-ego. Hulk played a key role in the Avengers' "time heist," recovering the Time Stone from the Ancient One during the team's sojourn back to 2012 and the Battle of New York (and providing some comic relief with his half-hearted attempts to mimic the mindless rage of his 2012 counterpart).

Once all of the Infinity Stones were assembled in Tony Stark's Infinity Gauntlet 2.0, though, Hulk's role wasn't just key — it was crucial. As the only member of the team with the physical fortitude to wield and use the Gauntlet, Hulk performed the Snap that brought all of the heroes dusted by Thanos at the conclusion of Avengers: Infinity War back into the land of the living. In doing so, he permanently damaged his right arm — which implies that even if he were to return for further MCU adventures, he may not be doing quite as much smashing as we're used to.

Of course, it can also be argued that even a one-armed Hulk would be formidable enough to beat the ever-loving crap out of your standard-issue world-threatening villain — and even setting this truth aside, Banner should still be valued by the Avengers as one of the foremost scientific minds on the planet. We tend to think that Ruffalo is, well, full of it — especially considering that his cousin is about to enter the MCU, and she'll probably be in need of a little guidance on the ins and outs of being a Hulk.

Mark Ruffalo's Hulk could still make an appearance in the She-Hulk series

We are speaking of Jennifer Walters, the She-Hulk, who has scored her very own Disney+ limited series — and who is likely to be a presence in the MCU for some time to come, considering Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige's declaration that characters introduced on the streamer will go on to appear in the movies. Aside from Walters' obvious strengths as a hero (she's, you know, a Hulk), she also possesses a couple other interesting qualities which could make a fan favorite in the MCU.

First: she's an attorney, and since she also retains her intellect and personality while Hulked out, we're bound to be treated to the sight of a 7-foot green woman delivering closing arguments before a shell-shocked judge at some point. Her profession could also be relevant in the MCU's near future, as we can think of at least one character (Spider-Man) who is going to be in need of some legal help very soon, and another (Matt Murdock/Daredevil, who is bound to enter the MCU eventually) against whom Walters could face off in court.

Second: Walters is known to break the fourth wall early and often in her comics incarnation, as is Deadpool, who is slowly making his way to the MCU. We submit that Mighty Marvel needs to find a way to get those two onscreen together with all due haste.

In any event, Walters' connection to Banner (in the comics, she received her powers after a blood transfusion from Cousin Bruce) isn't likely to be downplayed, and doing something silly like killing him offscreen would cause fans to revolt. No, somehow, we have a feeling that Banner — in Marvel's parlance — will return. Nice try, though, Mr. Ruffalo.