Warning: This post contains SPOILERS for She-Hulk episode 1!
Bruce Banner’s arm is fully healed after Avengers: Endgame thanks to She-Hulk: Attorney At Law. Although Hulk only made one appearance in Phase 4 before She-Hulk, Mark Ruffalo’s cameo in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings raised several questions about his Marvel Cinematic Universe character. His appearance as Bruce Banner’s human form was a surprise, but She-Hulk‘s marketing materials indicated that more changes were ahead. This included potentially retconning the severity of his arm injury from Avengers: Endgame.
Without a solo movie to put all the attention on him, Marvel Studios gave Hulk a three-film arc over the end of the Infinity Saga. Thor: Ragnarok saw Hulk and Banner battle for control, while Avengers: Infinity War saw their power struggle reach a breaking point. It was then revealed in Avengers: Endgame that Banner’s brain and Hulk’s brawn were combined to form Smart Hulk. It was only after this transformation that Hulk could wield the Infinity Stones and reverse Thanos’ snap, saving the universe. Smart Hulk became a huge MCU hero in the process, but it came at a cost. Using the power of the six Infinity Stones severely damaged his right arm, just as it did to Thanos.
Smart Hulk’s injured arm seemingly taking him out of the superhero game was even more noteworthy with She-Hulk impending MCU debut. However, She-Hulk‘s trailers indicated that Marvel could be on the verge of changing Hulk’s future once again by healing his arm. She-Hulk episode 1 officially confirmed that Bruce Banner’s arm is fully healed after Avengers: Endgame, even though it skims past some details. For that reason, here is a complete breakdown of the injury and how Smart Hulk healed his arm.
Hulk’s Endgame Snap Was Meant To Permanently Damage Him
Hulk’s Avengers: Endgame snap was initially thought to be something that would have a lasting impact on the character. The Avengers decided that Hulk was the only one strong enough to wield the Infinity Stones and live, thanks to their gamma radiation. The MCU already showed that Thanos using the Infinity Stones twice nearly killed him and left the Infinity Gauntlet fused to his hand. Smart Hulk’s snap was supposed to permanently damage him, as the creative team behind Avengers: Endgame confirmed this was their intention. After all, the same power killed Tony Stark, so Smart Hulk having a permanent reminder of his heroic act was understandable. It also was thought to be a way to help bring She-Hulk to the forefront, as Smart Hulk’s Avengers: Endgame injury would mean he is no longer able to be an active superhero.
Bruce Banner’s Human Form Helped His Arm Heal
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was the first sign that Bruce Banner’s arm was healing after Avengers: Endgame. His surprise transformation into his human form was done with a recovery in mind, according to She-Hulk episode 1. Bruce built the inhibitor arm device that would allow his human form to return. He teases that it was only after leaving the Smart Hulk form behind that his arm started to heal. The specifics of how this is possible are not explained, but it seemingly stems from the idea that Bruce Banner and Hulk are two different entities. Bruce’s human form does not typically retain injuries sustained by Hulk, but the damage caused by the Infinity Stones could be significant enough to change that. However, Smart Hulk’s form could have received the majority of the damage, meaning Bruce Banner’s human arm would be able to heal. This is especially true if the inhibitor arm device had special healing qualities that would not work in his Smart Hulk form.
She-Hulk’s DNA Helped Smart Hulk’s Arm Fully Heal
Returning to his human form may have helped begin the healing process, but She-Hulk’s DNA is responsible for Smart Hulk’s complete recovery. Bruce begins studying Jennifer’s DNA to learn more about her abilities after She-Hulk’s origin. He learns that her blood synthesizes gamma radiation differently than his. They both share a rare combination of genetic factors that even allow gamma radiation synthesizing, but Bruce is surprised to learn that She-Hulk’s is unique. He is able to use these findings to heal Smart Hulk’s arm fully. This is how Smart Hulk is able to return to his peak condition. The process of Smart Hulk applying what he learned from She-Hulk’s DNA to healing himself is not explored. The most likely explanation is that Bruce infused himself with some of Jennifer’s blood samples to grant him a higher healing factor and fix Smart Hulk’s arm.
Is She-Hulk More Powerful Than Hulk In The MCU?
The surprising reveal behind Smart Hulk’s healed arm has a potentially massive implication for the MCU, as it seems as though She-Hulk is more powerful than Hulk. Jennifer immediately jumps to this conclusion upon learning how her blood helped heal Bruce. She suggests that she is better than Bruce, but he retorts that they are just different. However, it does seem that She-Hulk is more powerful than Hulk in this capacity. Jennifer’s genetics appear to give She-Hulk a stronger healing factor that can even overcome the effects of using the Infinity Stones. Not only would this mean that She-Hulk is more powerful than Hulk, but it also indicates she might be stronger than Thanos in this capacity. She-Hulk’s full powers are more on par with Hulk overall, but the MCU does suggest that she is an improved version of Hulk.
Marvel Healing Hulk’s Arm Is Great For His MCU Future
Bruce Banner’s arm healing so quickly after Avengers: Endgame is surprising, but it is a great sign for Hulk’s MCU future. Instead of the Smart Hulk having a weaker physical form right as his Phase 4 replacement joins the picture, he is now back to full strength. Marvel now has the opportunity to show a side of Smart Hulk that Avengers: Endgame failed to capitalize on: how great of a hero Hulk could be with Bruce’s intelligence. Avengers: Endgame deleted scenes were meant to show Hulk as the last active Avenger during The Blip. The MCU only focused on him as a scientist and Banner’s pacifism controlling Hulk’s form, which did not leave much room for smashing – especially after he sustained his injury.
The path to Marvel healing Hulk’s arm in She-Hulk suggests that the MCU can use the real (and angry) Hulk more going forward. She-Hulk episode 1 already gave audiences more of Hulk fighting and reminded them just how epic his action scenes can be. Now that Smart Hulk is back to full strength, that can become the norm again, especially as Bruce comes to terms with understanding that he has a duty to protect the world. All of this might even be set up for the rumored World War Hulk movie. Marvel cannot make a massive event film centered around Hulk without having him be in fighting form. Thanks to She-Hulk: Attorney At Law revealing how Bruce Banner’s arm was healed after Avengers: Endgame, this is now possible.