Perhaps the biggest character mistake of the Marvel Cinematic universe can be fixed in “The Hulk Woman” to give Phase 4 viewers once again a more traditional version of the Incredible Hulk. The new Disney+ series is dedicated to the subtleties of the transformation of the Hulk from Bruce Banner into a powerful Avenger. Thanks to Bruce’s experiments with Jennifer Walters, Marvel Studios were finally able to undo one of the most controversial changes to any Avenger, fixing the Hulk character before future MCU projects.
“Avengers: Infinity War” establishes that Bruce Banner and the Hulk had problems interacting after they were brutally beaten by Thanos. The Hulk does not appear until the end of the film, as Banner fights in a Hulkbuster Iron Man costume. In Avengers: Finale, Banner now controls the Hulk’s body in a form known as the “Smart Hulk”. He explains that for five years after the outbreak, he was able to control his transformations by working with gamma radiation. The Hulk woman sees Banner performing similar tests on her cousin Jennifer, teaching her to control her transformations.
The Hulk Woman offers an easy way to bring back the “Wild Hulk” from the MCU— the original personality that Bruce has historically struggled with. While Bruce is conducting tests on Jennifer, the MCU detects gamma radiation for the first time in many years, which creates the potential for a scientific error and the return of the Wild Hulk’s personality, dividing them into parts again. This is made more likely by the return of elements from The Incredible Hulk, including Tim Roth’s Abomination and the post-credits scenes in Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, where Bruce is depicted in his human form. The MCU Phase 4 bringing back the Abomination signals that Marvel is explicitly calling for a return to the time when Bruce and the Hulk were separated, while Shang-Chi proves that Bruce should be able to return to his human form if he didn’t separate from the Hulk. generally.
Although Bruce Banner’s Clever Hulk is not a poorly written character, his presence diminishes much of what makes Bruce Banner an interesting hero. Since Avengers: Finale, there has been no internal conflict and the personalities of Jekyll and Hyde that make the Hulk such an interesting character in the MCU. The absence of the traditional Hulk is one of the few criticisms that are sometimes used in the Finale, as some viewers expected the green hero to get a rematch with Thanos, as Thor and Iron Man did.
Splitting the Hulk and Banner into two characters shouldn’t undermine their development since the days of The Incredible Hulk and The Avengers. However, by bringing back the Wild Hulk, Marvel opens the door for adaptations of critically acclaimed comics such as World War Hulk and The Immortal Hulk, which cannot work with Bruce as a Smart Hulk. The first story may even feature a version of the Illuminati from Earth-616, while an adaptation of the Immortal Hulk may bring the terrifying Demon Hulk to the MCU. All of these stories may be promising MCU adaptations, but first they need a Female Hulk to separate Bruce and the Hulk.