In the wake of a crushing defeat at Thanos' Infinity Stone-clad hands, the heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will face their greatest challenge yet in Avengers: Endgame. But who is the greatest hero in the MCU? Over the next couple of weeks, SYFY WIRE will be debating who deserves the title of The Most Important Avenger. Our next contender is the Hulk, the big guy himself.
Hulk smash, but what this article presupposes is, what if Hulk bring together?
For such a destructive hero, not to mention one who is really two distinct individuals fighting over one existence, Bruce Banner and the Hulk really bring the Avengers together. If Iron Man is the team's rock and Captain America its heart, Hulk is the glue.
Think back to the first half of 2012's The Avengers, when the team is coming together for the first time. It's a struggle at first, what with all the clashing egos. Agent Phil Coulson's death galvanizes the heroes into working together, but the Hulk is missing when they learn the news of his death. It's not until the fighting in the Battle of New York has started, when Bruce Banner rolls up on a purloined motorcycle, that everything clicks into place.
Bruce Banner's "I'm always angry" speech and subsequent transformation is one of the best parts of The Avengers, but it also marks the moment when all six of our heroes start truly operating as a team — all seven of them, really, if you count the Hulk separately from Bruce. Despite the chaos the Hulk caused on the Helicarrier, despite all of the Avengers' earlier fears of what an unleashed Hulk might do, Banner and the Hulk are welcomed into the team in its time of need. It's the first time the entire team displays a sense of camaraderie and trust, a battle-forged bond and sense of respect that will help them save the world.
The Hulk and Banner's importance to the team extends far beyond just having shown up at the right moment of the Avengers' first big battle, though. Banner, perhaps because he understands the Hulk's rage and has learned ways to live with it, is the Avengers' mediator. Tony Stark turned to Bruce for therapy, as seen in Iron Man 3's post-credits scene, and even though Banner isn't that kind of doctor, he's still a good person to talk to.
Banner does the best job of mediating during the Avengers' squabble on the Helicarrier in the first movie, and he tries to be in the middle of the team's burgeoning split in Avengers: Age of Ultron. One has to wonder if Captain America: Civil War would have gone down the way it did had Banner been around to stop Iron Man and Captain America from coming to blows. Bruce was the one who brought everyone back together in Avengers: Infinity War, after all, making the phone call to Steve Rogers that Tony couldn't.
The Hulk doesn't have Banner's talent for mediation (though Hulk gets much more mature during his time on Sakaar in Thor: Ragnarok). However, you can't discount what his pure strength offers the team. When Tony tells Loki "we have a Hulk" in the first Avengers, he's calling the Hulk the team's ace in the hole, and for good reason. Hulk can't win every battle, and he can't solve every problem with punching, but there's a reason the Avengers turn to him when they need a heavy hitter.
Bruce has Tony's intellect and Steve's emotional intelligence and empathy, and the Hulk has Thor's strength. He’s the whole package in one. With everything Banner and Hulk have going for them, the big guy should start saying that he's "the most important one there is."