The Marvel Cinematic Universe launched with a one-two punch sequence. First, there was the massively successful Iron Man, which single-handedly birthed the shared universe aspect of Marvel's films. Then, just a few months later came The Incredible Hulk, which not only gave us the Hulk film we had always wanted, it also showed us the excitement of having characters from other franchises pop in from one film to the next. Iron Man is often credited as the film that started it all, but The Incredible Hulk also played an important part in generating excitement towards a shared universe. After all, if Tony Stark hadn't appeared at the end of the Hulk film, promising the formation of a team, we might never have gotten to The Avengers. With that, the Hulk became one of the four main pillars of the Avengers, next to Captain America, Iron Man and Thor.
Since then, Bruce Banner and his alter ego the Hulk have been through a lot. He fought the Chitauri alongside the Avengers, then took the fight to Hydra. He helped create Ultron and took part in the battle of Sokovia, then left the planet to start a new life on Sakaar as a fighting champion. Then, he joined Thor to save the Asgardians, and later found himself back on Earth to prevent Thanos' invasion. But from one smash to the other, there are things easy to forget about the MCU's Hulk. Today, CBR lists 15 things only real fans know about him, as well as five crazy rumors that just may come true.
20 HE TRIED TO END IT ALL
The original opening scene of 2008's The Incredible Hulk was quite different from the one featured in the theatrical cut of the film. On the home release of the movie, an alternate opening scene depicted Bruce Banner (then played by Edward Norton) in the middle of the Arctic, with a gun in his hand.
Banner then turned the gun on himself, trying to put an end to his Hulk condition. However, the stress of the situation only awakened the Hulk, and Banner survived the ordeal. While the scene is not in the film, Banner still references back to it in 2012's The Avengers, when he says he tried to shoot himself only to have the Hulk spit the bullet out.
19 HE EXPERIMENTED ON HIMSELF
In the original comic books, Bruce Banner transformed into the Hulk after he rushed to save a young man from the gamma fallout of a nuclear test. However, in the MCU, his origin story is a little different. In fact, Banner was actually a scientist who tried to replicate the super-soldier serum that made Captain America.
Instead of using the Vita Rays that Dr. Erksine had used during World War II, however, Banner's version of the serum would be activated with the use of gamma radiation. He was so certain of his theory that, in a bid to prove its worth, he decided to test it on himself – and that is what led to the creation of the Hulk.
18 HE'S TWO YEARS OLD
When Banner turns into the Hulk, there's little to no reason to the green monster outside of “smash” and “leave me alone.” But, as we saw in Thor: Ragnarok, the more time Banner spends as the Hulk, the more the Jade Giant evolves. In the two years between Age of Ultron and Ragnarok, the Hulk was in full control.
For that reason, we saw that the character had changed – he could now talk in short sentences, he had a different temperament and he liked to laugh and throw a ball around. The Hulk was effectively the age of a small child, given that he now had the chance to develop beyond the few minutes he changes into his green form at any given time.
17 HE MIGHT BE A SKRULL
Since there is actually so very little we know of the untitled Avengers 4 movie, there are a lot of fan theories floating around as to what might go down in the mysterious film. One of those theories is specific to the Hulk, and the fact that he may not actually be who we think he is: some believe he might actually be a Skrull.
The Skrulls are a race of shape-shifting aliens who are set to make their MCU debut in next year's Captain Marvel. According to some fans, before the Hulk ever reached Sakaar, he was replaced by a Skrull – which would mean that the ranks of the Avengers have been infiltrated.
16 HE BUILT A SAFEHOUSE KNOWN AS “THE RETREAT”
In the second season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., after Agent Daisy Johnson went through terrigenesis, she discovered that she now had superpowers that allowed her to control the earth. Daisy could create shockwaves on a small scale, and full-blown earthquakes at her most powerful.
For that reason, before she could control her powers, she spent a bit of time in a safehouse known as The Retreat. The safehouse was actually designed by Bruce Banner, who built it in the hopes of containing himself and other people with superpowers. We also learned that even Steve Rogers spent some time in The Retreat, after being unfrozen.
15 HE DIED
During the climactic battle of Thor: Ragnarok, Heimdall tries to lead the Asgardian survivors out of Asgard on the Rainbow Bridge, only to be met with the monstrous threat that is Fenris, the giant wolf. To save them, Bruce Banner heroically jumps out of a spaceship to transform into the Hulk.
However, his plan doesn't exactly go the way he'd hoped. Instead, after a free fall that would kill any normal man, Banner's body slams into the Bifrost, lifeless. As far was we are concerned, Bruce Banner died, but the Hulk brought him back – something we learned he could do very recently, in the pages of The Immortal Hulk.
14 HE'S NOT ACTUALLY SCARED OF THANOS
After being on the receiving end of a brutal beatdown delivered by Thanos at the start of Infinity War, the Hulk was not seen again for the rest of the film, refusing to transform, no matter how much Banner tried to. Most assumed that this was because the Hulk was scared of Thanos, and of losing a battle again.
However, that's not the case at all. The creative minds behind the film confirmed that Hulk's situation is actually more complex. After spending two years on Sakaar as a beloved champion and hero, the Hulk doesn't simply want to be reduced to the role of weapon in the Avengers' arsenal. He's an actual person, and he wants to be treated as such.
13 HE WILL DELIVER A BEATDOWN ON THANOS
Avengers: Infinity War featured a shocking opening scene that saw Thanos kill almost all of the Asgardians on Thor's ship. The Hulk tried to stop the Mad Titan, but the supervillain made easy prey of the Hulk, demonstrating incredible prowess and strength that the Hulk simply couldn't match or keep up with.
Before we knew it, the Hulk was down for the count. But we have a feeling a rematch is in order. Most fans of the Jade Giant believe that we will once again see a fight between Thanos and the Hulk in Avengers 4, one where the green monster will finally be able to demonstrate that he is the strongest there is.
12 ANGIER AND STRONGER
The Incredible Hulk may not be the film that the MCU references the most, but there is actually a lot of information about the Hulk to be found in there. One of the most important facts about him, and one that isn't mentioned often in the MCU (though is very well known in the comics), is that the Hulk's powers can barely be contained or quantified.
That is because the angrier the Hulk gets, the stronger he actually becomes. We've seen him unleash his rage on everything and everyone but, as we saw in his confrontation with the Abomination, the Hulk is actually stronger than any rival – he just needs to get angry enough.
11 HE WAS MANIPULATED BY LOKI (JUST LIKE IN THE COMICS)
In the very first Avengers comic book, the team of superheroes were brought together to stop the Hulk. The Jade Giant was rampaging uncontrollably and Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp teamed-up to stop him. However, the Hulk wasn't in his right mind – he was controlled by Loki, Thor's evil brother.
In 2012's The Avengers, the film actually paid homage to the first Avengers story by having Loki once again manipulate Banner into turning into the Hulk on-board the S.H.I.E.L.D. hellicarrier. The Hulk's attack may not have brought the Avengers together, but it did help in seeing them get some traction as a team.
10 HE'S GETTING A NEW SUIT
While we haven't seen a trailer or even an official poster of Avengers 4, we did get a peek at some concept art for the film, promo art that features the remaining Avengers, joined by franchise newcomer Captain Marvel, as well as Ant-Man and Hawkeye, who were mysteriously absent from Infinity War.
Black Widow can be seen back with red hair, Steve Rogers is getting a new costume and, most surprisingly, the Hulk is getting his own power-suit. While this is new for the character as part of the Avengers team, it's not totally a departure, given that the Hulk may have taken a liking to wearing armor when he was a fighting champion on Sakaar.
9 HE WILL BECOME AN AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
While we know that the Hulk will be wearing some sort of armor in Avengers 4, we still don't know why. Some have started to look at the comic books for inspiration, and at specific stories where Hulk started to wear an armor of some sort. In two separate instances, the Hulk started working for a group known as Pantheon, and later S.H.I.E.L.D.
Since there is no Pantheon in the MCU, and since S.H.I.E.L.D. is now defunct, it's possible that Avengers 4 might feature a new iteration of the super-spy organization, one spearheaded by Captain America and Black Widow – an organization that also includes Bruce Banner, aka the Hulk, as one of its main enforcers.
8 HE PLAYS THE ROLE OF THE SILVER SURFER (IN INFINITY WAR)
In the Infinity Gauntlet comic book, which served as great inspiration for Avengers: Infnity War, the story begins with the Silver Surfer crashing down from the sky and right into Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum. There, he warns the Sorcerer Supreme and his assistant, Wong, that Thanos is coming.
As it turns out, this is a scene in the film that plays out almost exactly like the comic book. The only big difference is that it isn't the Silver Surfer who crashes into the Sanctum, but rather Bruce Banner, after being transported by Heimdall. There, in the rubble of the Sanctum, Banner speaks the same words as the Surfer: “Thanos is coming!”
7 HE WAS NOT RECRUITED TO BE IN THE AVENGERS
The final scene of The Incredible Hulk features Tony Stark meeting with General Ross to help him find a solution for the military man's Hulk problem. This is where Stark mentions that they are putting a team together, our very first hint at the Avengers coming together on the big screen.
However, we would later learn, in the one-shot short movie The Consultant, that Stark was never actually talking about the Hulk. In fact, the World Security Council wished for Abomination to be on the team, not the Hulk, so S.H.I.E.L.D. sent in Stark to discourage Ross from ever releasing the super-powered villain out into the world again.
6 HE CREATED THE HULKBUSTER ARMOR
The Hulkbuster is a massive suit worn by Tony Stark with the simple goal to take down the Hulk. The design of this special armor is unparalleled, from its sheer size to the technology that allows it to replace broken pieces. It's easy to miss at first glance, but the invention isn't Tony Stark's alone.
In Avengers: Age of Ultron, a talk between Bruce Banner and Stark reveals that Banner actually helped Tony design the Hulkbuster. This makes a whole lot of sense, because Banner's knowledge of the Hulk is crucial. On top of that, as a scientist, he probably has some ideas on how to stop himself thanks to Stark's advanced technology.
5 HE WILL HULK OUT OF THE HULKBUSTER IN AVENGERS 4
When Bruce Banner joined the fight against the Outriders inside the Hulkbuster armor, almost everyone assumed that the scientist would eventually transform into the Hulk at a dire moment and rip out of the suit to change the outcome of a losing fight. Of course, that never actually came to pass.
However, that doesn't mean it won't. With rumors circulating around that Avengers 4 will feature time-travel in some capacity, some believe that the film will take us back to Infinity War's fateful battle, and that Banner will finally transform into the Hulk to prevent Thanos from assembling the full Infinity Gauntlet.
4 HE ONCE ENCOUNTERED FROZEN CAPTAIN AMERICA
In the deleted scene that sees Edward Norton's Bruce Banner turn a gun on himself in the middle of the Arctic, fans can spot an Easter egg once Banner transforms into the Hulk. The green monster smashes through the ice and the snow, and it's there that fans can spot a quick glimpse of a frozen Captain America.
This was actually a reference to the original Avengers comic books, which saw the Hulk break a frozen Captain America out of the ice during a fight. It's ultimately a good thing that this scene was deleted, because we now know that Captain America was frozen, yes, but he was also trapped inside the Red Skull's airship.
3 HE WAS TARGETED BY HYDRA
Bruce Banner and his alter ego the Hulk are known the world over, and they are considered one of the most dangerous and powerful enhanced individuals on the planet. For that reason, even an evil super-secret organization can recognize how much trouble the Hulk would be to their nefarious plans.
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we learn that Hydra, who has been secretly growing inside the ranks of S.H.I.E.L.D., plans to take over the world thanks to Arnim Zola's algorithm and the Insight hellicarriers. As it happens, we learn -- thanks to turncoat Agent Sitwell -- that Bruce Banner is one of their intended targets.
2 HE'S AFRAID OF BANNER
Bruce Banner is a character constantly terrified of the power inside of himself. He has to keep his emotions in check at all times, just to keep the monster inside of him at bay. He knows what the Hulk is capable of, and he knows the destruction he can leave behind. But the case is actually the same for the Hulk.
The Hulk is power personified. Reciprocally, he is afraid of puny Banner. Just as Banner doesn't wish to transform into an all-powerful rage monster, the Hulk doesn't wish to transform into a weak human form where he is simply trapped. There is a duality of personalities at play in the same body, and both still have to find common ground to work together.
1 RUMOR: HE WILL DIE IN AVENGERS 4
Avengers 4 is rumored to be the end of the line for many characters. It's quite curious that the original six Avengers survived Thanos' universe-altering finger snap, and that's certainly not for nothing. Some have begun to subscribe to the theory that the original Avengers will end up sacrificing themselves to bring back the departed.
What exactly that means is anyone's guess, but it could also signal that this might be the final film for a few of our favorite characters. Since Mark Ruffalo's Hulk doesn't have a franchise to call his own, it's quite possible that Avengers 4 will be the final adventure for this Hulk – but that doesn't mean that another (She-)Hulk may not be part of Marvel's Phase 4 of movies.