Shang-Chi’s post-credit sting introduced the master of martial arts and his friend Katy to the wider Marvel universe. In a meeting with Wong, Captain Marvel, and Bruce Banner, the group discussed the origin of Shang-Chi’s ten rings, but many fans had another question, ‘why wasn’t Bruce Banner in his Hulk form during the meeting?’
It’s a good question. During the events of Endgame, we learn that following Thanos’s invasion, Hulk and Banner spent six months in a gamma lab, essentially merging. This resulted in a new ‘Smart Hulk’, which was a combination of Hulk’s powerful green body with Banner’s mind in the driver’s seat.
During Tony Stark’s funeral, we see that Banner retains his new form despite having his arm seriously injured using the Infinity Stones. We presumed Smart Hulk was a permanent transformation, but it seems we were wrong. Thankfully the new Marvel series She-Hulk takes the time to explain why Bruce has reverted to his ‘puny Banner’ form. Warning spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen the first episode of She-Hulk.
Why wasn’t Bruce Banner the Hulk in Shang-Chi?
According to the first episode of She-Hulk, undoing The Blip took more out of the Hulk than we realised. The power of the stones was too great for even the Hulk to heal from; however, for whatever reason, it would slowly heal when he was Bruce.
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Bruce explains to cousin Jen – right before the crash that will turn her into the indestructible She-Hulk, “my arm started to heal… it’s all because I made this little device which keeps me in human form.” So, it seems that as powerful as the Hulk is, the damage the stones did could only be fixed by spending a prolonged period as Banner.
The exact reason for that isn’t given. Still, it’s teased that the Banner family, for whatever reason, can synthesise gamma radiation – the type of radiation emitted by the Infinity Stones – in ways normal humans can’t. Maybe the Hulk lacks this ability as well? After all, he’s clearly different to Bruce physically, or perhaps he’s so much gamma running through his veins that it slows down Bruce’s ability to synthesise it?
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