Marvel Studios has a history with lying to audiences in its trailers, perhaps memorably with the Hulk's involvement in the Battle of Wakanda in Avengers: Infinity War. It's also widely speculated that a character was digitally removed from the Super Bowl spot for Avengers: Endgame. Therefore, it should be little surprise that, for the latest tease of the highly anticipated sequel, the studio appears to have returned to its old tricks.
This time it appears that Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner, and his alter ego the Hulk, are once again targeted for omission.
The Hulk is Missing? Again?
The Hulk remains a huge draw. That's why, whenever the Hulk appears in a film, he's often front and center in the marketing. Many casual movie-goers would not have gotten as hyped up for Thor: Ragnorak as they had unless the trailers teased the Hulk and Thor fighting on Sakaar. Avengers: Age of Ultron teased the Hulkbuster fight before the first trailer was even released.
That's no doubt, at least in part, why the Hulk was featured in virtually ever promo for Infinity War. The only problem is that none of the footage actually depicted the film's one scene in which the Hulk appears. However, fans expected the Hulk to assemble with his fellow Avengers and their allies in Wakanda, because, well, that's what marketing and toy tie-ins led them to expect. However, the Green Goliath didn't burst out of the Hulkbuster armor at a crucial time, as co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo felt Banner instead deserved a moment of self-empowerment.
The opposite is apparently now true for Avengers: Endgame. Toy tie-ins have shown the Hulk wearing a uniform like his teammates, confirming what's been shown in earlier production art. Yet none of the trailers have depicted the Hulks.
Audiences have barely even seen Banner, who shows up in the opening moments of the new trailer, only to disappear from the footage. The Hulkbuster has been teased in toy releases, yes, but we haven't seen Banner in the armor. That absence is noticeable, particularly in the shots in which most of the heroes are brought together, in the New Avengers Facility and in the cockpit of the Guardians of the Galaxy's ship, the Benatar. Where is Bruce is Bruce Banner, and why is Marvel hiding him.
Hulk's Arc, from Thor: Ragnorak to Avengers: Endgame
It was established in the marketing for Thor: Ragnorak that Bruce Banner and the Hulk would undergo a character arc, from Ragnorak to Infinity War to Endgame. Based on that information, fans can surmise a possible projection for the Hulk (Banner) going into the fourth Avengers film -- and, more importantly, a theory as to why the Hulk has remained hidden for so long.
Thor: Ragnorak reveals the Hulk and Banner personalities are distinct and wrestling for control over the same body. And it seemed as if Hulk wanted to be in charge all of the time, as he hadn't reverted to Banner once in the two years between Age of Ultron and Ragnorak. It's also teased that, in many ways, the Hulk is seen as far more valuable than Banner, despite the latter having seven PhDs.
On the other hand, the Hulk refuses to come out following his defeat by Thanos in the opening moments of Infinity War. Instead, it's Banner asking Hulk to come out. Additionally, it's Banner proving his ingenuity and brains are useful in a way that the Hulk isn't.
That establishes a few core elements about this three-film arc: 1. Banner and the Hulk are distinct characters; 2. They both fight for control of the same body; and 3. Banner is important.
Given that, fans can logically conclude that Endgame will continue that arc, presenting Bruce's intelligence as an asset, and further detailing his complicated relationship with the Hulk. That leads to one logical conclusion: The nature of the Hulk's role in the sequel is too much of a spoiler, even in this latest trailer, which appears to reveal significant plot details.
Showing Hulk, or more of Bruce Banner, would likely give away who's in control, and whether Marvel's Green Goliath returns for a rematch with Thanos, undoubtedly in the climactic battle.
One theory is that the Hulk we see in Avengers: Endgame will be more "evolved" than what's been shown previously. Many fans have suggested the end of Bruce's "trilogy" leads to a version of Professor Hulk from the comics: an amalgamation of the two personalities. If Professor Hulk were to be shown in the trailers, it would be obvious, as he would walk and move like Banner.
Marvel might be avoiding showing the Hulk because his return will be an emotional high point in which the Hulk rebounds from his defeat in Infinity War to help take down the Mad Titan. But it also may be the studio wants to hide the culmination of Banner's arc so that, when Bruce and the Hulk blend into one persona, it feels far more cathartic.
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, Avengers: Endgame stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Benedict Wong, Jon Favreau and Bradley Cooper, with Gwyneth Paltrow and Josh Brolin. The film arrives April 26.