Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) approaches the Hulk cautiously after a successful battle in Avengers: Age of Ultron (Mark Ruffalo). The sun is getting low, she says softly. She extends her hand to the Hulk and invites him to hold it in her palm. Taking her fingers from his forearm to his hand, she reaches up and gently slides them down. Upon doing so, the Hulk transforms back into Bruce Banner and stumbles around.
Also, this quiet moment establishes how the Avengers have begun to control Banner’s formerly volatile transformations since The Avengers, as well as the introduction of their romantic relationship. After Age of Ultron paired them, each narrative decision about their relationship in the franchise since proves the MCU didn’t know what to do.
Although Age of Ultron implies their relationship will continue, it is most prominent in the first Avengers sequel. They are attracted to each other in a quiet scene on Hawkeye’s (Jeremy Renner’s) family farm. Natasha is in her robe when Bruce emerges from the bathroom wearing only a towel.
The woman says she would have joined him, but she thought the time wasn’t right. There is only one scene in the entire series in which the two are in such an intimate moment, involving a near kiss and the suggestion of sex. Both performers deliver incredibly well-acted scenes, but Natasha’s infamously clumsy monologue where she declares herself a monster after being forced sterilized is particularly jarring.
As a result of her ineptly written revelation, the performers’ genuine chemistry is lost. As their most intimate moments are framed by the film’s most brazen display of gender confusion, their pairing also seems motivated by a sense that the primary female character needs a romantic line of action to be fully developed.
In the Age of Ultron scene, both characters foreshadow the possibility of their stories intersecting after they leave the titular superhero team. Toward the end of the scene, the two characters discuss the possibility of running away and starting a new life. During the climactic battle sequence, however, the Hulk jumps into a quinjet to prevent Ultron from escaping.
As the Hulk throws out the villain, he flies away rather than returning to the team. As Natasha tries to persuade him to turn around, he shuts off a transmission. As the film builds up their relationship and suggests that they will exit as a pair, the ending here feels like a deliberate cliffhanger, inviting the audience to anticipate what may happen next.
Despite that, they have never been treated the same way again when it comes to their relationship. In Captain America: Civil War, Natasha dismisses their relationship virtually entirely. The scene of the Sokovia Accords featuring footage of the Hulk and Banner’s absence does not elicit a reaction from Natasha.
In Thor: Ragnarok, Hulk’s return to his Banner form is attributed to Natasha’s video message from Age of Ultron. The couple’s relationship is actually acknowledged, but little is said about the romantic aspect. The primary purpose of her presence is to de-Hulk Bruce. However, its mention in Ragnarok does suggest that this subject deserves further investigation.
In light of Natasha’s presence bringing Bruce back after two years as Hulk, shouldn’t their relationship receive more attention in future installments? Despite the characters being reunited, both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame is uncertain about how to proceed. In Infinity War, Natasha and Bruce see each other for the first time in years, exchanging stares and names.
An awkward reunion is mentioned by Falcon (Anthony Mackie) after a few beats. In spite of that, any awkward tension (which would seem almost inevitable when characters are reunited after years apart) is seemingly resolved by that bit of comedic relief. The movie acknowledges that they were an item, but it doesn’t know how to proceed from there.
The characters reunite at the end of Endgame after another long separation. They are reduced to a shared line and longing look, as they were in the previous film. Natasha recalls how he once thought Banner and Hulk could never coexist as he introduces the now-fully in-sync Smart Hulk in the diner sequence.
As that appears to be the reason the two did not end up together, this line serves as a reminder of their past romantic involvement. By dismissing their relationship by its minuteness, the line suggests there may be an unresolved issue between them. Although Natasha died halfway through the film, no resolution is ever offered.
According to the latest entry in the MCU, this relationship was never fully understood. Tatiana Maslany’s She-Hulk (Tatiana Maslany) asks Smart Hulk how he is able to change between Banner and the Hulk in “A Normal Amount of Rage,” the premiere episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. He refers to Natasha’s lullaby from Age of Ultron while describing his transition between the two.
When She-Hulk asks how the lullaby worked, Bruce responds, “I don’t have a great explanation for it.” Hulk does not acknowledge that the lullaby’s effectiveness was related to their romantic part, thus dismissing their importance in the series.
Also, it can be read as an explanation of the relationship between Natasha and Bruce. Due to the fact that She-Hulk is Hulk’s passing the torch storyline (in the same way as Black Widow and Hawkeye), it appears that the MCU does not really have an explanation for what their relationship means.
Robert Poirrer is a contributing author who covers Hollywood latest movie releases and web series for the MovieThop website. He has a decade of experience in writing movies based articles for numerous renowned media outlets. He is excellent at creating unique content based on emerging trends in a variety of categories especially entertainment, movies and lifestyle. When not writing articles you could find Robert enjoying mountain biking trips with his friends. He graduated in English Literature from North Carolina State University.