The definitive combo of brain and muscle
WARNING! This article contains spoilers, proceed at your own risk.
The latest release of the MCU is a culmination of everything introduced in the studio so far, that includes Bruce Banner’s journey from monster to hero. Over the span of four movies released in the last decade, we’ve seen Bruce Banner and his alter ego slowly evolve and come to terms with each other. And now as we wrap up the Infinity Saga with Avengers Endgame, we meet the ultimate combination of brains and brawn – welcome Professor Hulk.
Who exactly is Professor Hulk, and what does his debut mean for Bruce Banner’s MCU journey going forward? Read on to find out about Professor Hulk’s origin in the comics.
Professor Hulk Explained
The Incredible Hulk often dubbed as the “Strongest Avenger”, is a result of Bruce Banner’s deeply distorted psychology and suppressed anger. It only makes sense that Hulk himself would evolve as Banner’s own psychological state changes. Basically, Professor Hulk is the ultimate union of Banner and Hulk. He has all of Bruce’s intelligence and eloquence along with all of Hulk’s incredible strength.
This might seem like a perfect combination of superhero potential, but as with most things Hulk-related, the truth is a bit more complicated. In the comics, Banner eventually comes to realize that Professor Hulk isn’t a fusion of his human and monster sides, but merely another alternate personality built around an idealized version of Banner’s mind.
Bruce Banner’s Powers and Abilities as Professor Hulk
Believe it or not, Professor Hulk’s is the strongest of any other Hulk avatars throughout the Marvel Universe! That along with Banner’s acute intelligence, makes him a formidable opponent.
Professor Hulk does have one major weakness though. Whereas most versions of Hulk grow stronger as they get angrier, anger is actually Professor Hulk’s worst enemy. If he becomes consumed with rage, Professor Hulk reverts back into human form, but with the mind of the original, savage Hulk. In order to help prevent this transformation, Professor Hulk often augments his strength with gamma-powered weapons.
The Origin of Professor Hulk
Like most people, Bruce Banner had a rough time in the ’80s. Various Marvel Comics creators began digging deeper into Bruce Banner’s troublesome mind, establishing his childhood abuse and revealing that the seeds of a monster were planted long before the gamma exposure birthed the Hulk.
During this time, Hulk began to take new forms in addition to his traditionally angry personality. For example, there was the more ruthless Grey Hulk (a.k.a. Joe Fixit), who moonlighted as an enforcer for the Las Vegas mob. This is where Professor Hulk made his comics debut. With the help of psychologist and occasional superhero Doc Samson, Bruce managed to accept his alter ego and come to terms with Professor Hulk, an amalgamation of Bruce Banner’s brain with that of the classic, angry Hulk resulting into the harsh Grey Hulk.
Originally known as “Merged Hulk,” this hybrid creature seemed to be the answer to Bruce’s years-long quest of protecting the world from Hulk, his own inner monster. This new identity had all of Banner’s intelligence and all of Hulk’s strength, making him the best of both worlds.
Unfortunately, this evolution didn’t solve all of Bruce Banner’s problems. As he grew to better understand this new Hulk manifestation, Banner realized that Professor Hulk isn’t actually the genuine merging of Banner and Hulk, but merely another alternate, idealized and ultimately temporary personality.
Since then, Hulk has continued to grow alongside Banner. There have been other intellectual, Professor Hulk-esque personifications of the character, including but not exclusive of Worldbreaker Hulk and Doc Green. But even then, Banner doesn’t seem to be truly making peace with his inner demon in the comics.
What’s Next for The MCU’s Professor Hulk?
Only time will tell the fate of Professor Hulk. It all depends on how much the MCU is actually making from the comics when it comes to Hulk’s journey. The movies have essentially potrayed Hulk as a dull child who’s slowly become more intelligent the longer he’s existed. Hulk gained elementary speech after spending two years on Sakaar in Thor: Ragnarok. And in Avengers: Endgame, Bruce Banner has been around long enough that he and Hulk are now unseperable from one another in terms of intelligence and character.
However, we don’t know whether the current manifestation of Hulk in the MCU truly is a perfect merging of Banner and Hulk or if, like in the comics, he’s simply a new branch personality. There’s a lot we don’t know about how Hulk came to be in this state in those missing five years between Infinity War and Endgame. How did Banner convince Hulk to come back after his defeat in Infinity War? Does Hulk ever revert to human form now? Is this professor Hulk subject to the same limitations as the comic book version in that he devolves into a savage, puny human when he grows too angry?
We get the impression from Endgame that, unlike Iron Man and Captain America, Hulk’s story in the MCU is far from done. We expect some of these questions will be answered in future movies, as Banner helps spearhead a new team of Avengers and comes to better understand his unique condition.
For more on the latest MCU movie, check out The Russo Brothers dropped a hint about this character’s death at the very beginning of the film and who was that kid from Tony stark’s funeral?
Checkout our Avengers Endgame comics collection here.