- Bruce Banner’s failure to lift Mjolnir in Avengers: Age of Ultron proved that he wasn’t worthy during the MCU’s Phase 2.
- The Hulk’s betrayal in Avengers: Infinity War suggests his selfishness and resentment may have been holding him back from wielding Mjolnir in Age of Ultron.
- Bruce Banner’s transformation into Smart Hulk in Avengers: Endgame, and his use of the Infinity Gauntlet, could have made him worthy enough to wield Mjolnir.
Bruce Banner’s worthiness to wield Mjolnir was tested in Phase 2 of the MCU, but Avengers: Infinity War may have answered exactly why he was incapable of lifting Thor’s mystical hammer. Although originally depicted by Edward Norton in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, Bruce Banner, a.k.a. the Hulk, has been portrayed mainly by Mark Ruffalo in the MCU. Debuting in The Avengers, Ruffalo’s version of Bruce Banner became a key figure in the MCU’s premiere superhero team, and has recently learned to control his Hulk personality. While Banner has often been seen as the moral compass of the Avengers, the MCU’s Phase 2 proved he wasn’t as worthy as first thought.
Since the film rights to the Hulk still reside with Universal, Marvel Studios hasn’t been able to develop further solo projects for him since The Incredible Hulk. Nevertheless, this hasn’t stopped Bruce Banner from making ten appearances in live-action MCU projects, spanning all four Avengers projects, cameos in Iron Man 3, Captain Marvel and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and appearances in Thor: Ragnarok and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law on Disney+. Banner has interacted with almost every other hero, and is one of the MCU’s most powerful heroes, but he still didn’t have the power to lift Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
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Bruce Banner Couldn’t Lift Mjolnir In Age Of Ultron
In the opening moments of 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Avengers band together to take down yet another HYDRA stronghold and obtain Loki’s scepter. Their success in this mission makes them comfortable enough to throw a massive party in Avengers Tower, which ends with each member of the team attempting to best Thor and lift his enchanted hammer, Mjolnir. While Steve Rogers’ Captain America seems to manage to get the hammer to move slightly, teasing his eventual wielding of the weapon in Avengers: Endgame, Clint Barton, Tony Stark, James “Rhodey” Rhodes and Bruce Banner all fail to lift Mjolnir, proving that they simply aren’t worthy.
Hulk’s Infinity War Betrayal Proves He Wasn’t Worthy
Bruce Banner has always tried to balance science and morality, so his unworthiness to wield Mjolnir suggests that something deeper is holding him back. Avengers: Infinity War may have provided the perfect explanation, as the Hulk side of his persona chose to hide rather than join the battle against the Mad Titan Thanos. In the opening moments of Infinity War, the Hulk engages Thanos in a fight aboard the Statesman, but is defeated by the Mad Titan, and spends the rest of the 2018 project in hiding, refusing to come out and help Banner fight alongside his Avenger friends. This could answer why Banner wasn’t worthy enough to lift Mjolnir.
The Hulk puts his own feelings and resentments ahead of the greater good in Avengers: Infinity War, staying out of the fight when he could have been useful simply because he feels used by Banner and Earth’s other Mightiest Heroes just for his strength. This is a sore point for the Hulk in 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, who claims that Thor prefers Banner over the Hulk. The selfishness that the Hulk expresses during Infinity War could explain why Bruce Banner couldn’t wield Mjolnir in Age of Ultron, but this may not be the case in the current timeline of the MCU, as the Hulk has been through huge changes since then.
Would Hulk Be Worthy After Endgame?
2019’s Avengers: Endgame revealed that Bruce Banner had successfully combined his human and Hulk personas, transforming into Smart Hulk. This meant he had the intelligence and personality of Banner, while having the permanent appearance and strength of the Hulk, albeit a smaller and more human iteration of the giant, green Avenger. This proved that the Hulk and Banner had reached a compromise, suggesting that the Hulk was happy with this side of the deal, which could hint at him now being worthy enough to wield Mjolnir. Another key moment in Avengers: Endgame could also reinforce the idea of Bruce Banner now being worthy enough to wield Thor’s powerful hammer.
After the Avengers embarked on the Time Heist and collected the six Infinity Stones from throughout the MCU’s history, Bruce Banner’s Smart Hulk was the one to put himself at risk in order to bring back all the victims of Thanos’ Avengers: Infinity War snap. This move could have killed Banner, just as it did for Tony Stark’s Iron Man later on in the Battle of Earth, but he took on this responsibility nonetheless. The agreement struck between Banner and the Hulk in Endgame, and his insistence on being the one to use the Infinity Stones, could imply he is now a worthy wielder of Mjolnir.