Out of all the character arcs in Age of Ultron, Bruce Banner has one of the most interesting.
Over the course of the Avengers, we saw him go from hating his green, angry alter-ego to embracing it. When Age of Ultron opens, we see that he’s come to grips with the big guy and has figured out a way to coexist with him.
Don’t read any further if you haven’t seen Age of Ultron yet and want to avoid spoilers.
By the end of the film, however, Banner has relapsed — stealing away in the Avengers Quinjet to parts unknown. It becomes clear in that final scene, when Black Widow tries to talk him into turning off the stealth mode and revealing his location, that Banner would much rather return to seclusion.
Later, Nick Fury reveals to Black Widow that they picked up a signal in the ocean close to Fiji. He’s not entirely sure it’s the Quinjet, but that’s probably exactly what it is.
It begs the question, after we just watched a budding romance between Romanov and Banner — that looked like it was going splendidly, no less — why the hell would he just up and leave? Why isn’t he on the Avengers team anymore?
While I can’t know for sure, until the next movie arrives, I’m going to do my best to cover these things and offer my own theories as to what’s going on. Please, feel free to weigh-in on the discussion in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter, fan to fan.
Will Banner Ever Gain Control?
One thing is certain, we’ve been led to believe that Banner and Hulk are two completely separate people. Both of them are vying for control over Banner’s body, almost in spite of one another. The Hulk flies into a fit of rage when Tony Stark mentions Banner’s true name, and Banner himself doesn’t like talking about “the other guy,” at least not openly.
However, that’s not really the case. Any way you cut it, Banner and Hulk are one in the same. One cannot exist without the other.
I see him as more of an embodiment of mental illness. Bruce Banner, is suffering from an illness which happens to have afforded him two personalities — one of which is a hulking, green superbeast. Origin for the Hulk aside, this is a man who’s essentially trying to get control of himself. I’m not at all suggesting — or trying to make a mockery of — mental illness. Instead, looking at him in this way has helped me better understand Banner and Hulk, right along with some of the crazy shit the duo does.
Someone with a mental illness — read: split personalities — must take medicine in order to gain control. Without it, you could say their mind — and sometimes even body — runs amuck. The problem is, medicine doesn’t always work. Worse yet, some people build up an immunity to medicine, which eventually renders its use ineffective. In Banner’s case, there is no medicine that can help his illness.
Banner will never gain control. Sometimes it seems like he has control, sure, however that’s nothing but an illusion. At any moment his beastly alter ego could seize his body placing around him in grave danger.
Black Widow’s lullaby seems to help him, bringing Banner back into his true mind and calming down Hulk, but it’s limited. Just before his demise, we see Ultron easily interrupting Widow’s lullaby by shooting at the two of them from a Quinjet.
Even though the lullaby works, it’s a temporary solution. Banner is too volatile.
That’s why, Banner being in a relationship of any kind is a terrible idea. Don’t get me wrong I love what they did between Banner and Black Widow in the film — that’s not what I mean.
Why Would a Relationship Be Bad for Banner?
Love is unpredictable. It’s maddening at times and it can make people do some really crazy shit. Even someone you love and adore and whom returns the sentiment, can still elicit feelings of jealousy, rage, sorrow, and much more.
Imagine for a moment, if a strong bond between Banner and Black Widow did exist after the events of this film. Things would be great, as long as they were great. The moment they enter battle against a dangerous foe, all shit would hit the fan. If they started fighting — as couples do — then it would spell disaster!
That’s not even considering what would happen if — god forbid — harm ever came to Black Widow. Banner would feel rage unlike anything he’s ever experienced before.
You can’t have love without those strong emotions attached, it breeds them. Hell, those emotions are what make us human. At the same time, they could wreak havoc on a superhuman like Hulk who already has little control. I mean, come on, Banner admitted he’s angry all the time. Would it really be a good idea to augment and enhance that rage with even more powerful emotions? I think not.
So, Where Is He?
To be honest, it doesn’t matter where he is so much as why he’s isolating himself.
I do imagine that Fury is right — because let’s face it, he’s always right — and Banner is somewhere near Fiji, most likely on a secluded island.
He’s there to recover and hide sure, but that’s not the only reason. Banner understands that he doesn’t have control over Hulk, and never will. And because Hulk is a part of Banner, as long as he hates that part of himself, he’ll never be happy.
Naturally, he’s isolating himself from Romanov, so that he doesn’t make her unhappy — like he is. He loves her.
Of course, this is an aside to everything else. To tally it all up, he doesn’t want to hurt innocents as Hulk, and he already caused quite a bit of damage during the fight in Africa with Iron Man. He doesn’t want to hurt Black Widow, both physically and emotionally. Last, but not least, he is still holding on to hope that he can gain control over Hulk.
It’s also important to remember that in the first film, it’s strongly implied Banner wants children — even though it may not be a smart decision for him.
In the scene pictured above — which takes place in the first Avengers — Black Widow meets Banner for the first time. He tells her, “I don’t always get what I want.” All the while he fiddles with the cradle, as if pondering that he’d love to have a family someday.
Black Widow reveals in Age of Ultron that it’s impossible for her to bear children, and despite it being something she strongly desires she doesn’t have a choice in the matter.
The fact that Banner is in love with a woman who cannot bear children, only heightens his despair. It’s yet another reason why he gives up on everything and runs away.