Mark Ruffalo as the smart version of the Hulk in Marvel movies.

So Why Is Bruce Banner Back as Smart Hulk in ‘She-Hulk’?

In the first episode of Marvel’s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Disney+ series, we get to see how the Hulk goes from the Mark Ruffalo/Bruce Banner-only version we caught a glimpse of at the end of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings back into his “smart” Hulk form that we were introduced to in Avengers: Endgame. And don’t worry, guys, he is well aware of the fact that we call him “Smart Hulk” and that it is just a name he has to accept.

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In the pilot, Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) is already She-Hulk when we meet her, and she’s preparing for a case, but in a breaking of the fourth wall, Jen tells us about how she’s a lawyer and who knows about her being She-Hulk. She then also takes us back to her journey into becoming her big green self by flashing back to a trip she took with her cousin, Bruce Banner.

When we first see him, he is just Bruce Banner, and he’s sitting in the front seat of the car with a sling on as Jen is asking about whether or not Steve Rogers is a virgin. He also shows her the device he made that lets him control himself and be Bruce Banner, as well as Smart Hulk.

Returning to Smart Hulk

The reason for his “return” to Smart Hulk is the car accident that gives Jen her powers. When a Sakaaran ship shows up in the middle of the road, Jen turns to avoid it but also then swerves her car off the road and into the forest below. At first, they both seem fine. Jen has a cut on her arm, and when she goes to check on Bruce, he also has a cut on his arm, and the blood from his cut mixes with hers, causing Jen to Hulk out just as Bruce would.

In the accident, though, the device that Bruce made to turn himself back into Bruce Banner breaks, and so that’s why, for the most part, we see Smart Hulk in the series and not so much of Bruce Banner, but it does now make sense as to why we saw Bruce Banner in Shang-Chi.

Bruce’s device

The device is something that comes into play in the series further than just Bruce using it to make himself Bruce again. When he takes Jen to his house in Mexico so that she can train there and learn how to be a Hulk, Bruce explains to her that the device he used to be Banner again was made with him in mind, and adjusting it for Jen wasn’t going to be something that he could just easily do.

It also then makes sense as to why he couldn’t just instantly make another one for himself (which is why we see Smart Hulk throughout the rest of the pilot episode). The device itself is probably going to come into play more later in Bruce’s storyline, I think, given that they made a point to explain how he became Banner again and how hard it is to figure out, because otherwise, we’re stuck with Smart Hulk for the rest of time.

Hopefully, we’ll see more of the Mark Ruffalo version of Bruce, but for now, that’s why we have Smart Hulk in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, and yes, I do love that he knows we make fun of him by calling him “Smart Hulk.”

(featured image: Marvel Entertainment)

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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.