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In the Avengers movie, why is Hulk's behaviour inconsistent?

Near the end of The Avengers, Banner shows he can control the Hulk after saying

That's my secret, Cap; I'm always angry.

So here's the question:

If Banner has been able to control the Hulk, why does he choose not to on the Helicarrier? He tries to tear apart Black Widow, then proceeds to have a brawl with Thor, followed by the angry annihilation of a jet fighter. If he can direct the anger, why is he so out of control during this scene? It would seem he made the choice to wreck havok on the Helicarrier instead of directing his abilities toward Hawkeye and the other infiltrators.


Ian has suggested that Banner's control was nonexistent on the Helicarrier because his transformation was magic induced. Anyone care to weigh in?

  • 1
    Being able to turn into the Hulk is very different from stopping from turning into the Hulk. Commented May 11, 2012 at 13:13
  • This is more about control. Why couldn't he control it after it happened, regardless of how he got there?
    – SocioMatt
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 13:15
  • It's the same real idea, though - the second transformation was voluntary, his comparative amount of rage was much lower. The first was involuntary triggered by magic. Commented May 11, 2012 at 13:17
  • Triggered by magic? It looked to me like he turned into the Hulk from a blood-pressure increase based on the fall after the explosion. I don't remember there being a magic element to it.
    – SocioMatt
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 13:19
  • Pre-explosion, it's implied that Loki's spear is creating the conflict (there is a cut to it glowing on the table), and eventually Bruce ends up holding it unconsciously. That and the actual explosion seemed (to me) to be the cause. Commented May 11, 2012 at 13:21

2 Answers 2


It's unfortunate that we don't see Bruce Banner discussing anything of the climactic battle afterwards, as it is still unclear how much he recalls of his time as 'the other guy'.

It seems that Banner has limited control over the Hulk, or that the Hulk retains a limited amount of Banner's personality. This seems to be related to the amount of focus or preparation Banner takes before turning.

As we saw at the end of The Incredible Hulk, Banner could exert a serious degree of restraint on the Hulk when he had both focus and a goal. He was able to create and at least partially control a transformation at the end of the movie, and he was able to give the Hulk focus and a target when up against the Abomination.

On the Helicarrier, Banner didn't prepare or expect his transformation. He wasn't sure what was going on, and he didn't have a target to focus on. He found himself facing Black Widow, who treated him like a threat (rightly so). Black Widow became the focus of his newly-transformed brain, which was filled with anger and uncertainty. Early in the fight, you can see Hulk is not really clear on what is going on - he's not going after Widow full bore, but more because she's there and a threat.

Once he fell, he had time to calm down a bit - his enemies were out of reach, and only the ground was threatening him. The parts of his mind that were still Banner were able to give him direction - hurt no one - and he was able to steer his fall appropriately.

In the battle in New York, Banner had a clear goal, a clear picture of his enemies and allies, and was well prepared for his transformation.

You could consider the Hulk similar to a well trained special forces soldier - give him a mission briefing, parameters, and a go signal and he'll do his job to the best of his ability. Jump him in an alleyway, and he'll react instinctively (which, for most combat, means 'with intent to kill').


I believe it was

because the Hulk that came out on the helicarrier was not under Banner's control -- it started due to unforeseen circumstances.


you saw towards the end of that manifestation he had maintained control of where he landed as to not hurt anyone.

  • 1
    Do I really need these spoiler tags?!
    – Naftali
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 13:14
  • 1
    It sounded more like he got lucky that no one else was around when he landed. He even had to ask if he hurt anyone, which implies that he didn't know the answer.
    – SocioMatt
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 13:15
  • 3
    And Thor might take issue with the assertion that he was COMPLETELY under Banner's control... Commented May 11, 2012 at 13:38

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