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Bruce Banner May Have Encountered Thanos Before Infinity War - But When?

One of the more anticipated confrontations in Avengers: Infinity War is undoubtedly the gamma-powered Hulk against the Mad Titan Thanos. As great as that matchup will be for fans, the news that Bruce Banner is already aware of Thanos ahead of the third Avengers film has the possibility to add even more intrigue to the movie.

During an interview with Screen Rant, Mark Ruffalo confirmed that "Banner knows more about Thanos than probably anybody, and he's really trying to impress on everybody how dangerous he is." This certainly sounds like Banner has firsthand knowledge of Thanos' violent tendencies, but when (and how) would he have gained this information? Below, we explore some of the possibilities that make sense chronologically for both the Hulk and Thanos to cross paths in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Hulk Heard It Through The Grapevine

Thor: Ragnarok established that time moves differently on the planet Sakaar than on Earth, which explains how Loki arrived there weeks ahead of Thor. Though we don't know exactly how long Hulk resided on Sakaar, it was established that Banner had been there in Hulk form for over a year. One can assume during his time in the gladiator pit the Hulk would have crossed paths with someone who either knew of Thanos or spoke his name in fear. A figure that imposing is sure to catch the Hulk's attention, for no other reason than he presents a new adversary to test his mettle against.

The Grandmaster -- who ruled over Sakaar -- is an Elder of the Universe, making him hundreds of years old. It almost stands to reason that Thanos' reputation would make its way to the Grandmaster, who is also the brother of the Collector and possessor of the Reality Stone. At some point, Thanos will make his way to the Collector's vault to take that Stone, and it could take place between Thor: Ragnarok and Infinity War. And if that's the case, word would likely make its way to the Grandmaster that his brother was robbed.

Pre-Infinity War

The post-credits scene of Thor: Ragnarok found the God of Thunder and his brother Loki transporting the Asgardian refugees to a new home in the far reaches of space. As the brothers shared a tender moment while peering out their ship's window, a rather massive ship eclipsed them before the scene cut to black. The prevailing thought is the ship belongs to Thanos, with the villain looking to retrieve the Space Stone/Tesseract from Loki after he stole it from a burning Asgard.

The first trailer for Infinity War showed what looked like Asgardians knocked unconscious on the floor, as Loki stepped over them to hand the Tesseract to someone off-screen. Chances are this is Thanos, and if he boarded the spaceship then he likely met one green Hulk and one-eyed Thor.

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We also know from the trailer that Bruce Banner finds himself dropped from space through the roof of Doctor Strange's Sanctum Santorum. Could this take place immediately following his confrontation with the Mad Titan? Banner would certainly be familiar with the power of Thanos if he lost that fight and the result sent him spiraling back to Earth.

It would also explain this quote from Banner's interview, where he talks more about what he's witnessed Thanos do firsthand. "He comes in screaming bloody murder... He's seen what damage he can cause and how powerful he is and the entire group is in disarray so he's also getting caught up on what's happened here and is trying to get them to transcend their differences and impress upon them how much danger they're actually facing."

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Bruce Banner joins the Guardians of the Galaxy as the only heroes in the MCU who are aware of Thanos' presence. With the Guardians out in space, Banner may be the only person who can warn Earth's Mightiest Heroes of the potential threat heading their way.

Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, Avengers: Infinity War releases April 27 and stars Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk, Anthony Mackie as Falcon, Paul Bettany as the Vision, Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, Don Cheadle as War Machine, Sebastian Stan as Winter Soldier, Chris Pratt as Star Lord, Dave Bautista as Drax, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Vin Diesel as Groot, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Tom Holland as Spider-Man, Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, and Josh Brolin as Thanos. 

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