Will She-Hulk & Thunderbolts Lead To World War Hulk In The MCU?

After their respective announcements, both She-Hulk and Thunderbolts can lead the MCU towards a worthwhile adaptation of the Marvel Comics story arc “World War Hulk.” On the one hand, there is a case to be made that it is too late for a World War Hulk MCU movie. In Thor: Ragnarok, the Marvel Cinematic Universe already succeeded in adapting Marvel Comics’ “Planet Hulk” storyline, which was the setup to “World War Hulk.” On the other, despite Bruce Banner seemingly being in full control of Hulk’s powers and destructive nature, the events in She-Hulk suggest that World War Hulk can still happen on Earth-199999 (MCU).

Notably, She-Hulk seems to have much more control over her powers compared to when Banner first became Hulk. Not only is she stronger, she also doesn’t have Hulk’s split personality problem. The implication is that She-Hulk will somehow result in Banner being forced to confront and investigate his Hulk persona instead of just repressing it. This is the first time that the MCU has hinted at an actual explanation for why Banner was almost killed by using Tony Stark’s Infinity Gauntlet in Avengers: Endgame, or how Hulk was nearly knocked out by the God of Thunder in Ragnarok’s Thor vs Hulk fight. With both Hulk and Banner actively working against each other inside their shared mind, the Incredible Hulk might not be operating at 100% – at least not yet.

She-Hulk could have bypassed this problem because she gained gamma radiation powers differently, and Banner looking into these possibilities could allow the Hulk persona to resurface again – setting the stage for a World War Hulk MCU film. This is further supported by the fact that Thunderbolts is the final movie in the MCU Phase 5 slate. Thunderbolts is based on the seminal Marvel Comics antihero team-up of the same name, which first appeared in “Incredible Hulk #449,” and at one point was led by General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, also known as Red Hulk. Banner being somehow involved in Thunderbolts would not only pay homage to the passing of Thunderbolt Ross actor William Hurt, but also Ross’ version of the team in Marvel Comics. In the MCU, this could all lead to the perfect future storyline for Bruce Banner, Marvel’s biggest and baddest antihero – both in the comics and in the original MCU Avengers lineup.

How The MCU Can Set Up A World War Hulk Movie

As Banner tells his cousin Jennifer Walters in She-Hulk, “Jen, when you have powers like this, it’s like putting a target on your back and the backs of all the people you care about.” Indeed, Hulk decided to leave Earth after Avengers: Age of Ultron because Banner and Hulk could at least agree on one thing: his presence endangers everyone on the planet, for which Banner will always be targeted and vilified. Now, Banner seems fully in control of Hulk, able to repress any and all tendencies to suddenly transform into an Avengers-level threat. However, She-Hulk being seemingly stronger than Hulk and not having her cousin’s split personality problems could prompt Banner to take another look at his and Hulk’s relationship. This could allow the movies to tackle Hulk and Banner’s personalities as deeply as in the comics, which essentially lays the groundwork for the World War Hulk MCU movie.

Banner and Hulk have always been at odds, but they also fully cooperated during “Planet Hulk” and “World War Hulk,” during which the Hulk was capable of previously impossible feats like knocking out the Sentry or actually invading Earth. In the MCU, it’s not out of the question for Banner to finally deduce that there is a corelation between the limits of his powers and how he treats Hulk. This could also explain why Banner was seriously hurt after using the MCU Infinity Stones, which technically radiate gamma energy, the same type of radiation that gave Bruce and She-Hulk their powers. After She-Hulk, Banner/Hulk could go into exile once more – only to return just in time for Thunderbolts, another key setup to the World War Hulk MCU film.

Will Thunderbolts Lead To World War Hulk?

Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is currently the most likely character to become the leader of the Thunderbolts, and whether Bruce is on Earth or not, Val will undoubtedly be looking to recruit Marvel’s original and most powerful antihero. Though this seems unlikely due to the Thunderbolts being composed of people like John Walker, Baron Zemo, the Abomination, and Val herself, this also provides the perfect mystery about what could possibly convince Banner to become part of this questionable lineup. Curiously, Val could use Yelena Belova – Black Widow’s sister – to somehow leverage Banner’s feelings about Natasha’s sacrifice and recruit him into the MCU Thunderbolts cast. Being manipulated by the Thunderbolts for whatever purpose could be what finally forces Banner and Hulk to cooperate in order to prevent anyone from controlling them ever again.

Is Hulk’s First Solo Movie In MCU Phase 7?

She-Hulk and Thunderbolts’ World War Hulk MCU movie setup even lines up with the yet-unannounced 2026 projects for MCU Phase 7. After Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars, the MCU will need a much more complex villain than even Kang the Conqueror, a role that could be filled by a version of Bruce Banner that’s more faithful to the comic books. Unfortunately for Banner, this could lead to the emergence of even more dangerous personalities like the Immortal Hulk a.k.a Devil Hulk, a spiteful beast that is extremely protective of Banner. Even worse, Banner/Hulk could get overtaken by Titan, a malicious monster with superior control over Hulk and She-Hulk’s gamma-irradiated blood, including the ability to give Banner the strength and endurance of Hulk without the need to transform. Banner could soon become the most dangerous variant of himself, and whether his actions will be justified, World War Hulk is inevitable. “World War Hulk” is easily one of the most challenging comic book stories to adapt for either film or television, and the massive world-building required to pull it off in the MCU could be the reason why Ruffalo’s Hulk is the only Avenger who is yet to have his own solo movie or series.

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