Warning: This article contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame
When you have films as big and massive as Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, fans will analyze every little detail that’s released both prior to the film arriving in theaters and after. Ever since Avengers: Infinity War hit theaters, there’s always been a bit of a mystery revolving around a single shot of the group running into battle on Wakanda.
Why a mystery? It’s because that shot included the Hulk, who we now know only appeared in Infinity War in the very beginning of the movie, not the end.
So why was that shot out there in the lead-up to Infinity War? Some suggested it was actually a scene from Avengers: Endgame, and that the heroes would return to that moment and this time they would win because, well… they have a Hulk. Some even suggested directors Joe and Anthony Russo created a fake scene to divert fans from what actually happens in the film. In fact, in earlier interviews, the Russos have said that the reason why that shot was in there was to fool audiences.
So... case closed?
Not so fast. With Avengers: Endgame now in theaters, we’re hearing a different story behind the infamous shot.
Prior to hosting a conversation with Infinity War and Endgame writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely at the Apple store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn earlier this week, we talked briefly about the fantastic arcs both Thor and Hulk have had from Thor: Ragnarok through Infinity War and into Endgame. That’s when the writers revealed that Hulk – aka Smart Hulk, as he is referred to in Endgame – was actually supposed to appear in Infinity War.
“We originally had Smart Hulk in Infinity War,” McFeely revealed to Fandango. According to the writers, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) eventually solved his communication problems with his alter-ego and transformed into Smart Hulk in time for that final battle on Wakanda in Infinity War. Things didn’t feel right tonally, however, and so Smart Hulk was scrapped pretty late in the process – late enough that footage of Hulk still in the movie made it into the marketing campaign – and that version of the character was moved to Avengers: Endgame instead, where his transformation makes a lot more sense.
In a previous interview with the New York Times, McFeely added, "It happened in Wakanda. His arc was designed like, I’m not getting along with the Hulk, the Hulk won’t come out. And then they compromise and become Smart Hulk."
Endgame is very much a movie about heroes becoming the versions of themselves they never had a chance to become when they were busy saving the day. The Smart Hulk reveal taking place once we move forward five years is more powerful and surprising than it would have been if squeezed into the plot of Infinity War. Ultimately, this is a story about trusting the tone of your movie, and that there’s definitely something to be said for saving the best for last.
Avengers: Endgame is now in theaters. Get your tickets right here at Fandango.