She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is taking Dr. Bruce Banner into a new role: the teacher. As we will see, when Jennifer Walters aka She-Hulk learns her new Hulk form, Bruce takes it upon himself to make sure she doesn’t make the same mistakes.
What are those mistakes, exactly? Well, The Hulk hasn’t had the greatest track record for being the most kind superhero of them all. It’s taken some time and reconciliation in order to get Bruce and The Hulk to be where they are now. So you’re not lost when She-Hulk airs, here’s a timeline of what The Hulk has been up to since he first appeared in the MCU.
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Though The Incredible Hulk is not one of Marvel’s most beloved films, She-Hulk is making The Hulk’s backstory relevant again. But don’t worry — we’ve got a recap for that.
Prior to his first appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Dr. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) has been exposed to extreme gamma radiation. After an attempt to save him goes terribly wrong, Bruce goes on the run from the government. He manages to hide for a bit, but when he goes back to the university where it all happened and reunites with his girlfriend Betty, he has to continue running. If his heart rate even raises a little, he’s at risk of becoming the big, green monster known as The Hulk.
When army soldier Emil Blonsky goes under the same gamma treatment, including a military concoction, it’s up to Bruce to save the day. Using his strength to his advantage, The Hulk manages to defeat Abomination but leaves before the government can intervene in his life anymore.
The Avengers (2012)
Still on the run from the government, Bruce (Mark Ruffalo) is hiding and playing doctor to the community in West Bengal where he’s living. However, he doesn’t know that SHIELD has kept tabs on him the entire time he’s been running. They can’t answer why he looks different, but they do know that he’s managed to stay several years without an incident.
Now, they need him for his scientific mind. The Tesseract is a new threat they’re encountering, and they need all hands on deck. Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) goes to collect him and takes him to SHIELD.
Dr. Banner becomes a target when Loki (Tom Hiddleston) discovers him on board the SHIELD helicarrier. When the helicarrier is under attack, a little stimulation from the events turns him into The Hulk, and he goes on a rampage, nearly killing Natasha and the rest of the Avengers. Fortunately for our heroes, Loki doesn’t win then, but it’s decided that Bruce can’t be without The Hulk. When the Avengers go down to New York to defeat the Chitauri and Loki, Bruce becomes The Hulk to do some smashing. It’s then that Bruce Banner and The Hulk decide to join the Avengers.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Bruce and Tony work together to create the ultimate savior of the planet: Ultron (James Spader). When Ultron discovers the bad side of humanity, The Avengers have to fight him in order to save the planet. Bruce feels guilty for helping create a creature like Ultron, but with the use of high tech like the Mind Stone, he, Tony and a plethora of other scientists manage to create Vision (Paul Bettany), the ideal version of the idea Tony initially had.
Together with Vision and the rest of the Avengers, The Hulk takes over to help defeat Ultron. But in that fight, Hulk finds himself in a SHIELD helicarrier in stealth mode. The Avengers can’t track him there, so Hulk shuts off comms and drifts off.
Thor: Ragnorok (2017)
When his SHIELD helicarrier gets lost in space after Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Hulk finds himself stranded on Sakaar, a planet run by The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) where everyone watches tournaments with creatures from around the galaxy. The Hulk becomes The Grandmaster’s ultimate champion and has the whole city dedicated to his wins. With this newfound fame, The Hulk hides Bruce Banner away until Thor (Chris Hemsworth) comes to Sakaar as his opponent. Hulk turns back into Bruce Banner when he’s exposed to a calming video of Natasha.
Bruce helps Thor escape Sakaar and get to Asgard to defeat Hela (Cate Blanchett), Thor’s older, much deadlier sister. Both Bruce and The Hulk have reconciled that they need each other for certain events. So when Hela fights back with Fenris, her loyal wolf, Hulk comes back to the rescue. He escapes a falling Asgard with Thor and the last of the Asgardians. That is until a much bigger threat comes to attack.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Thanos (Josh Brolin) slaughters everyone aboard the Asgardian ship, leaving Thor to himself and Hulk wounded. Bruce makes it back to Earth and joins Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), and Wong (Benedict Wong). Hulk is too scared to fight when Thanos comes to Earth to collect the Infinity Stones, so Bruce must go it alone. With the use of the Hulkbuster, he tries his best to stop Thanos along with the other Avengers.
Despite Marvel tricking fans into thinking The Hulk was in this film, he rarely appears, giving Bruce the spotlight. Bruce is among those who survive when Thanos wins. After, he goes to a gamma lab to reconcile with The Hulk and help the Avengers undo what Thanos did.
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
With five years and half the population gone, Bruce and The Hulk are now able to co-exist as “Smart Hulk.” Bruce can communicate and act as he would in his normal human form but now as a big, green Hulk. The strength is still there, but the aggression and lack of language isn’t a problem anymore. As a matter of fact, Smart Hulk hates smashing things and would rather continue to use his brains for good.
With the quantum tech provided by Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), Smart Hulk, Tony Stark and Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) figure out how to travel through time. Once they collect all the stones, Tony’s nanotechnology works to create the perfect gauntlet for someone to snap with. Being the only one with the most superhuman strength and gamma resistance, Smart Hulk snaps everyone back into existence.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
Appearing in the after-credit scenes of Shang Chi, it looks like Bruce can return back to human form. He’s now helping Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Wong determine where Shang Chi’s rings originated from. This was shortly after Endgame because Bruce’s arm is in a sling after breaking it with the Infinity Gauntlet.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (2022)
“Smart Hulk” is still Bruce’s preferred form based on the She-Hulk trailer. Considering Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) likes the power of her She-Hulk form, Bruce is most likely feeling the same. Unless the car crash that Jennifer and Bruce are in proves to be more fatal than it should be, Bruce won’t need to be The Hulk the entire series. But in the scenes that test Jennifer’s powers, it looks like Bruce will stay as Smart Hulk for a while. So, for those who are wishing for Hulk to go back on a rampage, he’s not coming back. Sit back, relax.
It’s Jennifer’s world now — Bruce is just living in it.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is scheduled to premiere on August 18, exclusively on Disney+.