Marvel Has Quietly Changed Bruce Banner’s Origin Story In the MCU

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Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk in 'She-Hulk: Attorney at Law'

Credit: Marvel Studios

The second episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law debuted this week on the popular Disney streaming service, Disney+, and while the episode did plenty for the development of Tatiana Maslany’s lawyer-turned-Hulk Jennifer Walters, and drop some equally interesting Marvel easter eggs, Episode 2: “Superhuman Law”, also quietly altered Bruce Banner’s origin story.

She-Hulk training with Bruce
Credit: Marvel Studios

After an unfavorable reaction to its first trailer, namely for its CGI, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law has surprised both critics and audiences. The nine-episode series from creator Jessica Gao finds Maslany’s Jennifer Walters — the eponymous She-Hulk — coming to terms with her new superhuman identity as the world’s newest Hulk, and dealing with the aftermath of her superpowered status within the corporate world of law.

The Kat Coiro-led directing team has already put Maslany’s new Marvel character to good use, setting Walters up as the head of the Superhuman Law Division at Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway (GLK&H) with her first task being the release of Emil Blonsky AKA Abomination (Tim Roth). Marvel fans last saw Roth’s Abomination in Destin Daniel Cretton’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) when the former Hulk adversary fought Sorcerer Supreme Wong (Benedict Wong) in the secret underground fight club.

Abomination in 'Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings'
Credit: Marvel Studios

As usual, the Disney+ television output is seemingly filling in some essential timeline gaps for Kevin Feige’s Marvel Phase Four. The first episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law gave clarity on the whereabouts of Banner/Hulk and Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) post-Blip, and this sophomore episode acknowledged both the glaringly obvious Celestial Tiamut poking out of the Indian Ocean, teased the potential existence of X-Men Wolverine in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and also situated the series around the events of Cretton’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

Mark Ruffalo as Hulk
Credit: Marvel Studios

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Once again, She-Hulk also hinted at the World War Hulk storyline through the recurring appearance of the Sakaar spaceship — yes, the ship that caused Walters and Banner’s life-changing (at least for the former) crash in the season premiere.

Despite these nods, something else also stands out from the second episode and that is the presence of Aunt Rebecca. During a family dinner scene, a group of relatives has gathered to offer support to Maslany’s downtrodden recently-fired Walters, and while not named in the scene, the credits show that Elizabeth Becka’s character is named Aunt Rebecca.

'She-Hulk' episode two credits
Credit: Marvel Studios

In Marvel Comics lore, Rebecca is the name of Bruce’s mother, and as we know Jennifer Walters is the cousin of Banner, it makes sense that this Aunt Rebecca is Bruce’s mother in the MCU. Becka is a tenured television and screen actress so it’s odd that she would play such a small, but named, role in one of Marvel’s biggest TV shows of the year. As the series progresses, fans may likely see more of the character.

Aunt Rebecca (L) and Ched (R) in 'She-Hulk'
Credit: Marvel Studios

In Marvel Comics history, Rebecca Banner was killed by her husband, and Bruce’s father, Brian Banner, after her attempted escape from her marriage. Brian’s physical abuse pushed his family away, and upon leaving, Rebecca Banner was killed, thus instigating Bruce’s deep complex of his fear and anger emotions. As The Direct points out:

This led to Bruce repressing his personality and shutting off his emotions, which became a key part of his own origin story as he held back his anger and resentment before the gamma radiation turned him into the Hulk.

This unresolved anger towards his mother’s death would become intrinsically linked to Bruce’s rageful Hulk, a trait seemingly not shared with the MCU’s incarnation.

Edward Norton as Hulk
Credit: Marvel Studios

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The Hulk’s origin has never really been explored in the MCU. The Incredible Hulk (2008) bypassed Bruce Banner’s exposure to gamma radiation, relegating it to the opening credits sequence — much like what Cat Shortland did in explaining Natasha Romanoff’s indoctrination into the Red Room Black Widow training program in last year’s Black Widow (2021).

Like characters such as Spider-Man, the origin of the Hulk is relatively well-known so it’s easy to see why Marvel didn’t spend much time on the birth of the green-skinned beast, but of late, it feels like Banner’s backstory needs to be injected into the MCU especially as the franchise is seemingly teasing a big role for the Avenger moving forward.

Do you think Aunt Rebecca will play a larger role in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law moving forward? Let us know in the comments down below!

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law stars Tatiana Maslany (Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk), Mark Ruffalo (Dr. Bruce Banner/Hulk), Jameela Jamil (Titania), Ginger Gonzaga (Nikki Ramos), Renée Elise Goldsberry (Mallory Book), Tim Roth (Emil Blonsky/Abomination), and Charlie Cox (Matt Murdock/Daredevil).

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law joins WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, What If…?, Hawkeye, Moon Knight, and Ms. Marvel on Disney+.

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