Bruce Banner, a.k.a. the Hulk, is many things. He’s a brilliant scientist. (Albeit one with an anger issue.) He’s a founding Avenger. According to the MCU, he’s a taco lover. But in Marvel’s Avengers, the new video game from SquareEnix and Crystal Dynamics, he’s also something else—something that we don’t usually consider when we think about the Hulk. He’s hot.
Let me be completely honest with you: this is the first time in my superhero-obsessed life that I’ve actually been attracted to the Hulk. So if, like me, you’ve never looked at Bruce Banner with any kind of allure, this revelation will come as a bit of a shock. We saw glimpses of Banner in both iterations of the beta game released at E3 and New York Comic Con, as well as in the July and August War Table interviews. But those looks seemed pretty by the book. And it turns out that the game was keeping a secret weapon hidden in plain sight, a cosmetic addition to the character that was teased but not fully revealed until we began our play-through when the game debuted last week: Bruce Banner’s beard.
As one of Marvel’s oldest Avengers, it’s natural for a character such as the Hulk evolve through multiple looks. In the comics, the Hulk’s image has ranged anywhere from ruggedly apocalyptic to iconic and destructive, while Avengers: Endgame brought Banner full circle in his Hulk journey and attempted to make him more relatable by introducing the more dapper Professor Hulk. A melding of the two personalities, Professor Hulk seemed to be the answer to a “people’s person” Banner, allowing him to keep his green form while also keeping his human personality. There’s no question that Professor Hulk definitely made the character more endearing than we’d seen in previous Avengers films. But it’s nowhere near the level of hotness we’re experiencing while playing Marvel’s Avengers. In fact, it’s not even close.
To fully appreciate what we’re calling “Hot Hulk,” we have to understand the game’s premise. Because of the events of A-Day, the Avengers—blamed for the catastrophic accident that resulted in widespread devastation—have disbanded. Five years later, a new threat sends Kamala Khan on a mission to reassemble Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Her goal of getting the team back together starts with the Hulk, as she finds Banner in an abandoned Avengers resistance base. And this Banner is one that is down on his luck. He’s lonely, he’s guilt-ridden, and he definitely hasn’t been keeping up appearances.
As Hulk, he displays a disheveled, unkempt, bearded look that shouldn’t be as hot as it is. I mean, maybe it’s due to Troy Baker’s voiceover work or maybe it’s just that the entire vibe is definitely one that tracks with my personal type, but I know I’ve never marveled at my television this way when it comes to “The Other Guy.” Even just as Bruce (perhaps moreso as Bruce), the character displays a rugged, almost casual image, his beard combined with boyish salt-and-pepper floppy hair and wire-rimmed glasses giving him an overall look that indicates more “mature nerd” than “geeky scientist.” And look, nothing against Mark Ruffalo’s geeky scientist. But I am here for this version of Bruce.
Lest we get too caught up talking superficially, it’s worth noting that this ruggedly handsome Banner is also attractive when it comes to his personality—a double whammy, if you will. Because he’s the first Avenger that Kamala meets on her journey, their relationship establishes the stakes of the mission while also highlighting the character’s vulnerability. According to Baker, “Bruce sits at the emotional core of our story. His relationships with the characters, which is often tenuous, spotlights his inner struggle.”
Through his rapport with Kamala, Banner works through these struggles, learning to trust himself and open up again. Those moments are quiet and meaningful. They lend a real humanity and weight to a game that, at its core, is about forgiveness and acceptance. And, apparently, really hot green superheroes.
Marvel’s Avengers is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, and PC.
Featured Image: Square Enix