The Hulk screaming in What If

Is It Just Me or Does Bruce Banner in ‘Marvel’s What If…?’ Look … Familiar?

Bruce Banner comes into season 2 episode 8 “What if…the Avengers Assembled in 1602?” imprisoned. Trying to keep himself from getting too angry or overwhelmed, Bruce is hidden away from everyone and chained up in a cell. But he also has on a mask that gave me paused.

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Banner in this episode was immediately reminiscent of the famed yet unidentified French prisoner known as the “Man in the Iron Mask,” or L’Homme au Masque de Fer, immortalized most notably by author and playwright Alexandre Dumas.

Granted, the episode is taking place in England and is taking place roughly 60 years too early, the iconic imagery that Bruce has in the episode made me instantly wonder if they were pulling a bit of history into the episode just for some fun. Because come on, how interesting is that, to see Bruce Banner being a part of history in that way?

We don’t know much about the man known as The Man in the Iron Mask, despite many documents trying to prove one thing or another. The only reason this doesn’t necessarily work is because the timing and location are off but it still is fun to think about.

Look, this does happen to be an episode of What If…? so why not mess with history some and let Bruce Banner be the Man in the Iron Mask? While the history of the case is tied to King Louis XIV, it is also famously a movie that came out in 1998 that also brought musketeers into the story. Anyway, back to France. Personally, I think it was just a fun little nod because it wasn’t a common practice at the time. However, I do like the idea of Bruce Banner being the Man in the Iron Mask even if the timing isn’t right.

It would work, even if the time and place are off

Bruce Banner as the man in the iron mask in jail
(Disney+)

As I said before: What we know about this person is limited. He was an unidentified prisoner of the state under King Louis XIV. There are many theories about the prisoner, including Voltaire’s that he was an older illegitimate brother of King Louis XIV. All of this is speculation because the documents were discovered in the 19th century and no one knows for sure what any of it means.

So Bruce Banner being locked up, in an iron mask, in London under the rule of King Thor is decidedly different but hey, I’ll take my Man in the Iron Mask content wherever I can get it and if it includes Bruce Banner breaking out of the literal chains that bind him, then so be it.

(featured image: Disney+)


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.