Mandatory Movie Debate: Could The Hulk Handle a Sexy Relationship With Black Widow?
The Hulk is a big green specimen with Forrest Gump’s IQ. Bruce Banner is a mild-mannered genius who hasn’t bumped uglies since his unfortunate/fortunate exposure to gamma radiation. As you know, every time Banner gets angry (or his heart rate elevates above a certain point), no one likes him and he can’t have sex. This isn’t to say that his alter-ego, Hulk, can’t “smash,” but it could be very messy for a non-ginormous individual.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has attempted (and arguably failed) to explore this. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow, for whatever reason, takes a liking to Mark Ruffalo’s Banner, posing the question: could Bruce aka the Hulk handle a sexy relationship with Black Widow? Could she with him? Would she dominate his ass? Would he hers? In this Mandatory Movie Debate, we take a look at the evidence surrounding their relationship (MCU Phases 1-4) and get busy.
Cover Photo: Marvel Studios
Bruce Banner’s ‘Situation’
“It’s OK, it happens to every guy.” This is not the case for Dr. Banner. Before Banner's initial transformation into his Lou Ferrigno-esque counterpart, he was dating Betty Ross—yes, the daughter of William Hurt’s General (something which is never addressed after The Incredible Hulk). Following Banner’s catalyst transformation, the enormous green rage monster injuries Betty. This is one of the reasons why Edward Norton’s Banner is so calculated in his stress management/Fitbit usage.
To maintain a low heart rate, and keep everyone around him safe, Banner practices abstinence. At one point in The Incredible Hulk, Betty even tries to seduce him; however, Banner isn’t about to risk death and destruction for a little afternoon delight. Can Bruce Banner have sex to completion without turning into the Hulk? Probably not.
Can the Hulk have sex? Probably, but at what cost?
The Love [New] Interest (Black Widow)
Exit Betty Ross. Enter Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow. In The Avengers, Agent Romanoff goes to India to recruit Banner in the search for Loki and the Tesseract. It goes without saying (but we’re going to say it anyway), Black Widow is an attractive female. On top of that, she’s fearless, motivated, and a paradigm of physical fitness—if anyone can get can down and dirty with a meta human, it's her. However, romance is the last thing on Banner’s mind. Even though Ruffalo’s Banner claims “[he's] always angry,” it’s safe to assume he still isn’t comfortable playing “stranger” with the Big Guy. Plus, there’s no indication the two are even remotely interested in each other until Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Random Sexual Tension
Steve Rogers and Romanoff flirt up a storm in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. No matter. Age of Ultron positions Black Widow as the Hulk’s de-escalator; for whatever reason, when she says “the sun is getting low” and does some strange palm-reading shit, the Hulk turns back into Banner. Thus was the beginning and end of the cheesiest thing about Age of Ultron. Regardless, Romanoff’s affection/intimacy with the Big Guy translates to her relationship with Banner—which surprises not only the audience but Banner himself.
The supposed love that Banner and Romanoff have for one another, as well as their desire to live normal lives, is a major subplot of Age of Ultron. The latter even suggests the two “do it” in the shower (sort of), but Banner again references the instability of his "situation." Oddly enough, it doesn’t seem like Hulk would ever hurt Black Widow (unless he's under Scarlett Witch’s mind control). So, maybe Black Widow just didn’t dare to tell Banner that she didn't mind him either way? Although Hulk is arguably too chaotic at this point to be a good lover. Regardless, Age of Ultron is the beginning of the Hulk’s characterization—turns out, he’s not just an enormous green rage monster, he has feelings. In his (sexual) frustration, an alienated Hulk leaves Earth.
‘Thor: Ragnarok,’ Sakaar, and the Grandmaster’s Champion
After the events of Age of Ultron, Hulk stays Hulk for at least two years. Thor runs into him as a gladiator on Sakaar in Thor: Ragnarok. Hulk’s just an irritable child at this point, fully capable of having his own friendships/relationships outside of Banner. As the Grandmaster’s champion, Hulk is a celebrity; he has groupies and a bachelor pad fully equipped with a hot tube and large bed—those purple maternity pants do come off...The inhabitants/aliens of Sakaar openly partake in hedonism; that said, it’s not unreasonable to assume Hulk “got it in” with other large and durable beings during his stay. As well he should.
'Avengers: Infinity War' (Awkward)
In Thor: Ragnarok, we find out that Banner has no recollection of leaving Earth or being on Sakaar for two years—he and Hulk are officially separate entities. The ying and the yang of their shared body results in a fair amount of discombobulation in Avengers: Infinity War. Hulk doesn’t know what Banner is thinking and vise versa. Banner’s reunion with Romanoff shows hints of affection and awkwardness, but the two never talk about it, nor does Hulk have fully appear past the opening sequence when Thanos tosses him like salad.
Bottom line: Hulk could probably handle a sexy relationship with Black Widow at this point but things between Banner and Romanoff are Facebook "complicated."
‘Avengers: Endgame’ and Professor Hulk
To reconcile his and Hulk’s differences, Banner spends months exposing himself to gamma radiation, resulting in Professor Hulk: Hulk’s body combined with Banner's intellect and personality. He wears shirts, eats big bowls of cereal, and smashes (although he thinks it’s gratuitous)—the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, Banner has blown it with Romanoff; she alludes to things previously thought impossible (presumably their sex life) in Avengers: Endgame, but it doesn’t seem like they’ve been spending much time together. Oh well, he can still win her back because now that Professor Hulk can definitely “smash”... even though the size of his little Hulk might prove uncomfortable.
Aside from the fact that the writers largely abandoning the Hulk/Widow romance plot (we salute you), Avengers: Endgame kills off Romanoff...This is not to say that Professor Hulk can’t get it on with other people. He’s gotta be super horny after all those years blue-balling it.
Musing: Is the reason for Hulk's softer demeanor in Thor: Ragarnok because he "dealt" with all that aggression?
Mandatory Movie Battles: Netflix’s Project Power v. Bradley Cooper’s Limitless
Conclusion: At first, it seemed like Hulk could only handle sexy relationships with other wild-animal types. As the MCU developed, Hulk became more and more cognitive and capable of love and affection. Hulk, and ultimately, Professor Hulk can handle a sexy relationship with Black Widow. Too bad she’s dead. Still, after years of denying himself satisfaction, Banner no longer has to worry about a stable heart rate. His only concern revolves around the sheer size of his manhood…on the other hand, does size even matter? He is, after all, a literal manifestation of the saying, “Size doesn’t matter, it’s how you use it that counts.”
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