Bruce Banner's journey as the Hulk has always been one of Marvel's most intriguing stories. Countless times, we've seen him misunderstood and interpreted to be a villain -- an easy take, when you factor in how the Jade Giant has often caused destruction in fits of blind, heated rage. Other times, he's been a hero trying to help the Avengers save the world, or simply a solitary being yearning for understanding, peace, quiet and even love.
Recently, however, the Green Goliath has become way more intelligent, as part of a brand-new relationship with Bruce. Hulk's now looking after his human half, seemingly with genuine affection, but as the latest chapters of Avengers: No Road Home and Immortal Hulk reveal, the behemoth is actually the nastiest villain running around the Marvel Universe.
In Immortal Hulk, we see that the monster has been jaded by mankind's politics over the decades and wants to enact retribution similar to what Ozymandias planned in Watchmen. But as he explains to his longtime ally and psychologist Doc Samson, it's a decision he's wrestled with after seeing how humanity has treated Bruce, especially as he considers Bruce to be, not a brother as first hinted, but a son.
Through Bruce's eyes, he's seen science do wondrous, but also wicked things, and now that Hulk has the power and is off the leash, he's going to make everyone pay. Mankind doesn't deserve the planet because of its nuclear wars, how it ravages resources and affects climate change, so by becoming this menace and ending the world, Hulk believes those who survive won't just be worthy, they'll appreciate life more and work towards a utopia without hatred.
Samson is straight-up stunned. This perspective on how precious the planet is bodes ominous for everyone. as it's basically Hulk's promise that he's going to raze the world, unapologetically. It's just a matter of when, not if, especially as he knows how to overcome the Avengers after their last battle in New Mexico. More so, he's embraced his Devil Hulk persona (driven by the mystical gamma running through his veins) and is willing to be the villain for a greater good. Samson realizes this new Hulk -- the immortal beast that comes out only at night -- is so much more dangerous than the HydraHulk we saw in Secret Empire.
Lest we think this is all huffing and puffing, and Hulk might be talked out of it, if you flip through the pages of Avengers: No Road Home, you'll see he's actually putting this vile plan into motion. Just after killing the god Hypnos in cold blood, Hulk has taken possession of a mystical shard (connected to Hypnos' mother, Nyx) that powered the deity. Hawkeye recognizes something bad is comin, and while trapped over in Conan's world, Scarlet Witch also has a premonition that Hulk is going to use the shard to become a vindictive god.
And so he does, transforming into a grey Hulk that's powered up beyond the Joe Fixit we've read in the past. He does this so he can inflict the Endless Night and turn the world into a dark realm where the sun never rises, where monsters roam free and where he can now rule as a nocturnal king.
His fellow Avengers are stunned as he makes it clear that, finally, he has the means to end the world. Hulk believes humanity has devolved past the point of forgiveness and he now wants to reset things. Sadly, Hulk isn't a dictator, he's a destroyer and it seems the Marvel Universe will need something or a group of folks that are more powerful than Earth's Mightiest Heroes to rein him in and illustrate his philosophy of destruction isn't the right way at all.