Of all the Hulks out there in the multiverse…I miss my Dumb Hulk. Sure, Smart Hulk has his positives, has his fans, and he’s still big and green, but, dammit, I like my Hulk big, green, and thick as a post. If I wanted a smart superhero, I’d push for Reed Richards of The Fantastic Four to show up in the MCU sooner than later. Or Super Think Man, who wields genius like it’s a machete, saving the world from the likes of Count FormMyOwnOpinion and the Legion of Dumbassery whilst shouting his heroic catchphrase “Eureka!” And he has a trusty sidekick, Ian Cyclopedia, and… wait, sorry, where were we? Right, Dumb Hulk. Me like Dumb Hulk. Here’s why.
Smart Hulk Has Run His Course
The MCU’s Smart Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) first appeared in Avengers: Endgame, a best-of-both-worlds character meant to show how much had changed in the 5 years since Avengers: Infinity War through his interaction with Scott Lang (Paul Rudd). And it’s this iteration of the character that is still prevalent, as seen in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. It was interesting at first, just how Banner and his alter-ego melded together to retain the best qualities of each, but now? Now it just seems to be an excuse to showcase how great the visual effects are in MCU fare. “We could have Banner press buttons and do sciency things, or we can use CGI and make him look awesome as he does it!” Face it: Smart Hulk is just dreadfully boring. Dumb Hulk, on the other hand, was just getting much more interesting in Thor: Ragnarok.
Another issue with Smart Hulk? He thinks too much. Really? With a descriptor like “smart”? Yes, and here’s the problem with that. Every action that Smart Hulk takes has, at the very least, a small element of thought behind it. So when he’s teaching Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) how to be a Hulk, he’s thinking about what he’s doing, whether it’s throwing a boulder or making sonic waves with a hand clap. As a result, there will always be a restriction to Smart Hulk’s actions. Dumb Hulk doesn’t have that problem. If he throws something, it’s because it was there and he threw it. If Dumb Hulk is asked to smash things like, say, Chitauri, he goes and smashes. Dumb Hulk doesn’t think about consequences because he doesn’t even think about actions. He just does. Look at how hard it was for Smart Hulk to even just act like Dumb Hulk when they returned to the Battle of New York in Avengers: Endgame. “Roar. Grr.” That’s convincing.
Part of what makes the Hulk interesting, in general, is the inner conflict between man and beast that has been part and parcel of the character since the early days of Marvel Comics. It was a recurring struggle in every episode of The Incredible Hulk TV series from 1978, as well as his two solo films. Pre-Endgame, Ruffalo did an excellent job of showcasing that conflict, from trying desperately hard to keep control in The Avengers and losing it, to the impassioned but spurned pleas for Dumb Hulk to rise up for the events of Infinity War. It’s such an ingrained trait of the character that being without it seems strange and, honestly, boring as all hell.
Smart Hulk Shouldn’t Even Work
Imagine, if you will, you are one of the heroes who has chosen to travel to the past to pick up an Infinity Stone. Now imagine the mere moments just before you are sent there. Would you feel more confident if the guy pressing the buttons and entering important data into the complex to ensure you don’t cake it en route has normal, human fingers or has big-ass green sausages for fingers? I can suspend my disbelief enough to allow for a scientist turning into a monster after being exposed to gamma radiation. But believing that the same monster, now with a brain in his head, can pick up beakers, twist dials, press buttons and type? That’s pushing it. A big, dumb creature? Works every time.
With all that said, what it boils down to is this: I want my Dumb Hulk back because Smart Hulk isn’t chaotic, and he isn’t funny. Dumb Hulk on the loose wreaks havoc. One doesn’t know what he’s going to do from one moment to the next. He only stops when there’s nothing left to smash… or gets told that the sun is getting real low, yada yada yada — a reminder of the romance we never really got between Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson). Will Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) be able to contain him in Avengers: Age of Ultron? Beats me. It’s not like you can reason with him. Smart Hulk has things planned out, like reinforcing his furniture and taking part in meditation exercises to maintain control. Smart Hulk should be atomic wedgied. He just doesn’t have the chaotic comedic timing we’ve grown to know and love in our Hulk.
Dumb Hulk is much funnier than Smart Hulk. His already funny takedown of Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in The Avengers became instantly iconic with the words “puny god”. Dumb Hulk taking advantage of moments when he can hit Thor (Chris Hemsworth), like a child hitting their sibling in the back seat, hoping the parents aren’t watching? Hysterical. These things don’t happen with a rational, dull Hulk.
When someone says “We have a Hulk”, that should bring with it the promise of a mad, unhinged force of nature that will stop at nothing — unless that sun’s gettin’ real low again — and look amazing doing it. What it shouldn’t bring is the promise of a big, green nerd that can help you with your math homework and your entry into the school’s Science Fair. So yah, I want my huge, bone-headed, Tasmanian Devil-like Dumb Hulk back, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.