Bruce Banner’s final scene in Thor: Ragnarok was ambiguous. Let’s discuss. (Beware of spoilers.)
If you’re reading this article, I’m going to assume you’ve seen Thor: Ragnarok, and know what happens to Bruce Banner — or, rather, you might think you know.
Because… he died, right? Bruce Banner is dead? Was that not what happened?
Considering that this movie was billed as the funniest Marvel movie yet, I left my screening feeling very surprised and vaguely disturbed to see a complete lack of mourning for Bruce Banner — The Hulk’s human alter-ego, played by Mark Ruffalo — who definitely accidentally killed himself in the movie I just watched.
After a few cryptic hints that the next time he turned into The Hulk, he wouldn’t be coming back, Bruce Banner’s final scene saw him throw himself out of a space ship and crash into the Bifröst, the camera lingering on his broken and lifeless body (while the entire cinema audience laughed their asses off, making the entire scene way more disturbing) before turning into the Hulk and — at least as far as this movie was concerned — disappearing forever.
Now, I’m not hugely knowledgeable about Marvel lore. I am what they consider a ‘casual fan.’ So from my perspective, it was frankly a bizarre way to kill off a key Avenger (or half of one, I guess).
Shouldn’t they have mourned him or something? Is the Hulk walking around now with a corpse in the trunk? Wouldn’t Thor care that one of his friends just brutally and tragically died? Tony Stark maybe should get a call? Natasha? No??? The movie definitely didn’t seem to care, and neither, it seemed, did the audience.
I was very confused. Until I Googled it.
Bruce Banner is dead, long live Bruce Banner
Turns out that Bruce Banner is not actually dead. The movie didn’t need to tell us this, apparently, because previous movies had made it obvious that Bruce can’t die because The Hulk won’t let him (and apparently there was a slight whimper from his seemingly lifeless body, but I certainly didn’t hear that, maybe because the audience was laughing so loudly).
As pointed out by John Orquiola at ScreenRant, The Hulk and Banner are co-dependent entities; one can’t survive without the other, and Hulk’s healing powers work on Banner, too. Banner is alive, then, despite a fall that would (and looked like it did) kill him under any other circumstances.
Actual fans probably didn’t need to be told any of this, but for casual fans like me it sure wasn’t obvious.
Of course Bruce’s survival doesn’t guarantee that we’ll ever see him again, as The Hulk has a lot more autonomy over their shared existence now, and he was last entrapped for two whole years.
In his weakened state, it might be even harder for the Avengers to lure his human side back out — though if anyone can do it, it’ll be Natasha, if the continued focus on their romantic relationship in Thor: Ragnarok is any indication — and with the impending Infinity War, they might not even need/want to.
What do you think? Have we seen the last of the apparently not dead Bruce Banner in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? And were you similarly unsure about his fate in Ragnarok, or should my ignorant ass just have read some comic books before seeing this movie?