The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has showcased a peculiar inconsistency involving Iron Man and the Hulk, setting the stage for a potential World War Hulk storyline. Both Iron Man and Hulk hold pivotal roles in the MCU, having been there since its inception. Iron Man’s 2008 debut, led by Robert Downey Jr.’s iconic portrayal of Tony Stark, laid the foundation for the franchise, swiftly followed by The Incredible Hulk, featuring Edward Norton as Bruce Banner.
Despite Iron Man’s ascendancy as an MCU frontman beside Captain America, Hulk remained relegated to secondary appearances, even after undergoing a casting change that brought Mark Ruffalo into the role. The character’s redemption is now rumored in Phase 6, with Iron Man’s moral contradictions potentially intertwined with this evolution, culminating in a World War Hulk movie.
Iron Man, portrayed by Downey Jr., evolved into a selfless hero, albeit with persistent controversies due to his actions and inventions that indirectly spawned villains like Mysterio and Ultron. Banner’s Hulk also contributed to Ultron’s creation, but his own journey was more intricate. While Stark didn’t radically transform, Hulk underwent a fundamental shift, suppressing his destructive side to fit societal expectations. The central premise of Iron Man’s hypocrisy lies in his ability to mature without changing his core traits, while Hulk had to discard his raging nature to be deemed heroic.
Banner’s transformation into “Smart Hulk” offscreen in Avengers: Endgame proved a disjointed narrative choice, raising the desire for a complete Hulk comeback. The Disney+ series She-Hulk: Attorney at Law introduced She-Hulk and further highlighted Banner’s Zen-like control over his anger. This control may not be sustainable, offering a promising setup for a moment of reckoning.
A World War Hulk storyline emerges as a prospect, especially with the introduction of Hulk’s son Skaar in the series. This mirrors the comics’ World War Hulk event, where Skaar debuted. Additionally, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hinted at an MCU Illuminati team, which plays a significant role in the World War Hulk narrative.
In essence, the MCU’s inconsistent treatment of Iron Man and Hulk provides a thematic foundation for a World War Hulk movie. This potential storyline could rejuvenate Hulk’s prominence, centering around the Hulk’s journey and its correlation with Iron Man’s trajectory, while incorporating newer characters and elements from recent MCU developments.