In the Avengers movie, when

Bruce Banner is on the helicarrier, he becomes angry and transforms into the Hulk. Black Widow happens to be next to him and even though both are on same team, he attacks her and then Thor. He becomes hostile to everyone on the ship. But later on, in the fight against Chitauri troops, Hulk is very comfortably self-controlled.

Why is that?

The only thing I could think of is that it has been many days (a year?) since the Hulk had gotten angry, so he couldn't control himself.

But that's lame to be so puny when Bruce Banner was compared to Stephen Hawking in intelligence.

  • Apart from this one incident, I liked Hulk. I actually liked every character, they were given equal weight around the plot.
    – Alexander
    Commented May 1, 2012 at 20:57
  • 1
    @JustinC You can make an edit that puts the spoiler tags in - it then goes into an approval list where it gets approved pretty quickly based off prior experience. I've just added them in anyway.
    – dlanod
    Commented May 1, 2012 at 22:35
  • 1
    If you watch the Avengers movie cartoon, Banner willingly turns into the Hulk and has control, however, that control did not last. That movie was made by Marvel as well. So all these answers about self inducing the incident is bogus. Because he self induced in the cartoon and only remained in control a short time. Remember that was a marvel made cartoon and reasonably new.
    – user7895
    Commented Jul 21, 2012 at 1:04
  • @Doma: What happens after he looses control? He attacks his team?
    – Alexander
    Commented Jul 22, 2012 at 23:25
  • 2
    This is one of those things you have to rationalize, more than justify, I think. The answer that works for me is that Banner and Hulk share memories, and the Hulk remembered being lied to by Black Widow fairly recently. I think Thor attacked Hulk first, but it's been a week or so since I watched the movie. Anyway, I think the basic answer is that Hulk is vindictive as hell, and if you've done anything to him, in either form, he remembers and he's gonna take it out of your hide.
    – Rich
    Commented Oct 22, 2012 at 21:40

9 Answers 9


Discussion of the Hulk in the film The Avengers:

The way I interpreted it was that when Banner was induced to become the Hulk on the helicarrier by Loki's staff, it was an external force influencing him. The staff is shown to have that power during the film, this seemed to be a weaker form of it, as it was causing everyone in the group to become more aggressive. The cinematography shows this, and Stark visibly shakes off the staff's effects near the end of the argument.

Later on in the film:

Banner purposefully transforms into the Hulk. During this episode, he is clearly in partial control. He actively chooses to attack the Chitauri, but still has some issues preventing his anger at Thor from coming out. However, he doesn't attack any civilians, and he attacks Loki especially brutally, indicating that he understands how much of a threat Loki is.

As I discuss in this answer, the ending of The Incredible Hulk

indicates that Banner is no longer actively trying to suppress the Hulk all the time. Instead he's periodically embracing the Hulk. The climactic battle of the film has Banner use the Hulk as a weapon against the Abomination. During that battle, Hulk, just like in The Avengers, only attacks his enemy, and doesn't wildly attack everyone in the vicinity. This suggests that this film may have been the start of Banner having some control over the Hulk during voluntarily induced Hulk episodes.

This is also backed up by Joss Whedon's Director commentary on the home release of Avengers. During the scene where Tony, Bruce, and Steve are discussing Nick Fury's suspicious behavior, he says:

[Tony] allows Bruce, he sets him up, and lets him get to that place where he can decide to be the Hulk. And you have two different Hulks in this movie, you have the one he becomes unwittingly and the one he decides to be, and the difference is palpable.

  • 9
    Yes... it should have been Loki's staff
    – Alexander
    Commented May 15, 2012 at 23:38
  • 1
    +1 mainly for the middle part of the second spoiler
    – Izkata
    Commented May 20, 2012 at 17:04
  • 1
    +1 for the information in the last quotation block
    – Ender
    Commented Jun 15, 2013 at 22:26
  • 3
    +1 the staff's influence cannot be discarded. this should have been the accepted answer.
    – Aristides
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 23:58

When the Hulk was removed from the airship he falls to ground and is found by the janitor/security guard at a building that he'd fallen through the roof of.

Their conversation is (paraphrased):

Hulk: Lucky I didn't hurt anyone.

Guard: Luck had nothing to do with it, you were awake and aiming away from them.

That is the last we see of the Hulk before

he shows up to assist in the battle in New York. I interpretted that exchange to mean that Bruce could exert control over the Hulk (after all, it had avoided hitting and killing people, something he didn't think it was capable of), and this was the first time that he knew of that. Once Bruce had been informed of that, he no longer regressed whenever the Hulk took over because he didn't view it as inevitable as he had earlier in the movie.

  • 1
    In earlier movies of Hulk, Bruce Banner was able to exert control over Hulk. Do you mean we should think Hulk has a fresh beginning in this movie?
    – Alexander
    Commented May 3, 2012 at 21:19
  • 1
    @ReddySR You've got me wondering about that too. scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/16062/… should hopefully answer it for us.
    – dlanod
    Commented May 3, 2012 at 21:30
  • 4
    I remember that the guard was saying that there was nobody there when he fall. He just mentioned that hulk was awake when he fall.
    – Sufendy
    Commented May 8, 2012 at 6:49
  • 3
    I'm with @Phelios. The guard just said nobody was around. The fact that he was awake was only a passing mention - there was no specification that the Hulk being conscious had anything to do with him having landed harmlessly.
    – Iszi
    Commented May 13, 2012 at 5:25
  • 1
    I'm giving a -1 as I don't think it answers the question. Perhaps more explanation around the quotes etc?
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Jun 4, 2012 at 0:11

Just a suggestion, but when he was on the Helicarrier, he didn't turn intentionally, but really lost it. When he was fighting in New York, he went and transfomed. So, he (Bruce Banner) made a decision and it was directed: "these guys are friends, these are not."

Of course he still punches Thor in that one scene, but that isn't even really trying to get him, and is more of a mini tantrum.

  • 8
    I read that as, "Don't get any ideas, kid, I could still break you and I'm not your pal," succinctly summarized in an offhand punch.
    – Jeff
    Commented May 6, 2012 at 15:05
  • 12
    @Jeff: In other words, a friendly punch in the shoulder, Hulk-style.
    – Simon
    Commented May 9, 2012 at 16:22
  • @Simon: Yes, exactly.
    – Jeff
    Commented May 9, 2012 at 20:08
  • 2
    @Simon, With friends like these... Commented Jul 18, 2012 at 4:50

The resounding difference between the two incidents (for me, leaving any potential staff influence aside) is that one of the transformations is voluntary the other is not.

People haven't gone into detail over why this matters, but I shall:

When Banner transforms in the helicarrier, he does so out of anger and frustration at the lies and bickering he has been involved in as part of the group, the deceit he feels over the hulk cage, and Tony's snide remarks. He has no one focus, and is simply venting his anger at whatever he can. It's an anger that rises from just the situation in general that causes the transformation. This is similar to the Hulks rage at Thaddeus' non-stop attempts to hunt him down, and his frustration at having to hide all the time.

When Banner transforms against the Chitauri he has a focus and a goal, and channels his ever-present anger at them. Yes, he lets loose on Thor once but only when safe. He hasn't got the same general, wide spread rage to try and focus (which he seems to fail at controlling) but instead triggers his rage by focusing it on the Chitauri. That's crucial. He knows what he has to do before he transforms. This is the sort of situation as in The Incredible Hulk movie against Abomination.

It's the anger you get when you are in a fight and respond angrily, which is not the same as when you become enraged by the circumstances you are in.

  • "Anger and frustration"? Banner transforms aboard the helicarrier because he's in pain, and he doesn't have the opportunity to lock it all down with meditation before it's too late. Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 14:16

My assumption was that the Hulk needs an enemy to take his aggression out on. When the Chitauri were around they were the biggest threat so the Hulk went after them. When it was Loki he went after him.

After being able to fight for a while maybe the Hulk was calmed for a bit to recognize friend from foe. Kind of like exercise to calm an animal. Hence his being able to get along (to some extent[Thor]) with the Avengers.


Maybe his behavior on the helicarrier was influenced by Loki's staff which seemed to be making everyone hostile toward each other.

  • Yes, Trav. Many think so.
    – Alexander
    Commented May 28, 2012 at 3:13

His behavior is not inconsistent with the ending of the Norton movie, where he smiles as he realizes he can now control his Hulk-Outs.

Arguably he has worked out that when he changes voluntarily, he retains more of his own self as it's not rage driven in the same way as an unintended episode. The change on the Heli-Carrier is not intentional and driven by pain and rage, he does try to control it but can't as Banner has probably suffered severe, possibly catastrophic damage, similar to the bullet in the mouth and the change is to save his life. However as it's caused by pain and rage, the Hulk is more mindless and attacking anything in sight, just as the pain attacks Banner. Arguably the thing that saves the world is the security guard.

Banner the man as portrayed by both Norton and Ruffalo reacts well to kindness. In Norton's film, from the factory owner, the girl next door who loves him, the guy at the Pizza place, even Lou's security guard... all show him kindness and respect and it lifts him. Conversely those who do not, suffer at the hands of the Hulk. With Ruffalo this carried on... He likes Widow for "asking nicely", Cap for his "only word I care about" line and Stark for his "banter" and not hiding from the Green Monster in the room. Even when he has the scepter and is getting angry, Cap asks him nicely to put it down and he does. Why is the guard important?

When he falls he is again shown kindness and respect, perhaps the most important of all. They guy could have called the Police, shot him ran a mile but he stayed till he woke up, made sure he was OK and didn't judge or treat him badly for it, he accepted it and helped him with the clothes and the motorbike. It's a shame the extra scenes were cut with Harry Dean Stanton. But the point is the Hulk that shows up knows that not only are the people he is fighting with respect him and are worth sharing his secret with, but that the people they are fighting for are worth embracing being the Hulk for, more so than when he fought Abomination. He retains control because it's the conscious decision to be the Hulk rather than a reaction and his "angry all the time" line is his way of telling the Avengers he KNOWS whats coming this time, which they won't have seen... only the rage filled uncontrolled version.


Everyone is forgetting that it was Loki's intention for the Hulk to become agitated and angry through the staff, which irritated and angered everyone. Tony's remarks to Bruce before the change had nothing to do with it. Ironically it was the kind of joking two buddies do to each other. The whole incident on the helicarrier was Loki's doing.

Bruce has gotten to the point with the Hulk where Bruce's emotions are amplified through the Hulk. They kinda work together now. You have to remember they are two different personalities, but the Hulk has always been a reflection of Bruce's feelings at the time he's released.

The staff made Bruce very standoffish and that was reflected when the helicarrier was attacked and he was injured. His change during the final battle was calm and intentional and controlled, which was then reflected in the Hulk's behavior.


I took it to be that when he turned into the Hulk on the helicarrier it was because he felt that he was being attacked both verbally and physically by the other Avengers. They were all arguing, Banner was obviously annoyed with Nick Fury about the situation he had been put in, especially the room designed for him. Add to this the effect that Loki's staff was having on all of them, making them more aggressive to each other. Then finally, there is the explosion which drops Banner and the Black Widow down through the floor. As far as he knows, that explosion was meant for him, he knew nothing of Hawkeye's attack on the helicarrier and so felt that he was the one under attack.

So I feel his behaviour was not inconsistent, both times he attacked whoever was attacking him, though obviously on the helicarrier he only thought it was the other Avengers and SHIELD that were attacking him. Whilst Hulk is by no means intelligent, he is smart enough to know the difference between allies, enemies and innocents like the members of the public in Manhattan. Plus his offhand punch to Thor was to someone who was an enemy he has fought, but is now an ally. Kind of a 'Just because we're on the same side doesn't mean all is forgotten and we're now friends'

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.