During the film’s post-credits scene, Weta VFX, Shang-Chi, and The Legend of the Ten Rings’ VFX crew tease where Bruce Banner is. Despite having a self-contained storey, the Destin Cretton needs to establish its relationship with the larger MCU. This was accomplished mostly through the appearances of recognisable faces, like Mark Ruffalo’s Banner, who appeared to be substantially altered from the previous time he appeared on the screen.
The Hulk declined to come out for the rest of Avengers: Infinity War after his humiliating defeat in one-on-one combat with Thanos (Josh Brolin) at the start of the film. Fans were stunned to see Smart Hulk, a version of the character who is physically capable as the green-rage monster but lacks Banner’s consciousness, five years after the snap, in Avengers: Endgame.
The film didn’t go into detail about how the hero came to have the hybrid ego; but it appeared to be a permanent state for him. He reappears in his human form during the post-credits sequence of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
As Wong (Benedict Wong) officially welcomes Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) and Katy (Akwafina); into the Avengers’ world with a meeting with Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Banner, this raised various questions for viewers. While the first three appeared to be in the Sanctum Sanctorum together; the latter two joined them by hologram, similar to the ones utilised by the Avengers in Avengers: Endgame.
Weta VFX supervisor Sean Walker laid down the process of making the scene in an interview with Variety; showing how they did it. Carol Danvers’ costume was apparently entirely CGI; but more curiously, Banner was in his laboratory at the time of the talk.
She-Hulk Will Provide More Answers
Because Avengers: Endgame didn’t go into depth about how Banner was able to combine his two egos to create Smart Hulk; it’s still a mystery heading into MCU Phase 4. And the appearance of Banner in Shang-Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings just added to the confusion; as it didn’t appear that Banner could simply switch between forms.
It’s likely that the upcoming Marvel Studios’ Disney+ series She-Hulk will throw some light on this. Walker’s claim that Banner is in his lab is backed up by the show’s first official look; which shows him and his cousin, Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany), in his own facility.
Assuming that Hulk is operating out of his own laboratory, the remaining heroes are generally dispersed and doing their own thing. Banner could have easily taken over the Avengers facility upstate; (assuming it had previously been restored); and manned it like Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) did after Thanos’ snap in Avengers: Infinity War. However, because he relies on his own resources, there is no system in place for the next generation of Avengers.