One of the many gripes fans had with Avengers: Endgame and Infinity War is that the two-parter all but abandoned the budding relationship hinted at in previous MCU movies between Bruce Banner and Black Widow. For a minute there, it looked like they might be hooking up. But nothing ever came of all that flirting, and the idea was completely ignored in the latest sequel, as Bruce took on elements of his alter ego to become what some call Smart Hulk. So what happened exactly?
The erosion of romantic feelings between Natasha and Bruce was never quite explained, and the relationship was all but a mystery wrapped in an enigma that would now never be satisfied or furthered by future movies with the death of Black Widow on Vormir. There was definitely a romantic subplot being shared by Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson's characters.
Age of Ultron found Bruce and Natasha becoming quite cozy with one another. Perhaps they'd be the perfect MCU couple? But as fate would have it, Banner Hulked out and flew his spaceship off for ports unknown. And that's where their flirting ends. As we now know, Hulk landed on Sakaar to become a gladiator, where he later hooked back up with old friend Thor in Ragnarok.
When Black Widow and Hulk come face to face for the first time in what seems like years during Avengers: Infinity War, their feelings for each other aren't addressed and the whole notion seems to get shrugged off as they go in their different directions, though still working together as a team. So, why did Marvel drop this burgeoning romance? Co-writer Stephen McFeely is now addressing the missing subplot.
"We certainly tried [to continue the story]. In Infinity War we had scenes - we wrote them, we shot them - of them sort of hashing that out. It was 'You've been gone, I've moved on,' that kind of stuff. But it became very clear that, if a scene was not in the 'A-plot,' it would NOT survive to the end of Infinity War..."
So, basically, there was just too much going on between Infinity War and Endgame to give any proper closure to this plot thread that seemed at one point to be boiling towards something more substantial. Even at more than three hours, Endgame couldn't find time to even service this waning relationship with a throwaway line or joke. There was just no room for it at all.
"That thing had to be on rails just to get to the finish line. You couldn't wrap up loose threads just because you wanted to."
Though Black Widow died on Vormir sacrificing herself for the Soul Stone, the first set photos from the Black Widow movie have surfaced, and they have some fans asking questions. Did she get resurrected? Why doesn't this really look like a prequel? Is Natasha carrying around an Infinity Stone? Is she attending her own funeral? These questions will surely get answered next year. Perhaps she'll be able to find time for a little romance. Hulk isn't done with the MCU just yet, with Bruce Banner one of the last remaining original Avengers. We don't know where Mark Ruffalo will show up again. But this may be it. Marvel plans to announce some, if not all, of their MCU Phase 4 plans at Disney's big D23 weekend this August. Perhaps we'll learn more at that time. This latest intel was dropped on the Empire Podcast.