We already knew that Bruce Banner was going to be a crucial character in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law because he was the most important aspect of Jennifer Walters’s transformation. Of course, we learned that Jen turned into She-Hulk when she got exposed to Bruce’s blood after a car accident during their road trip. This happened when she helped Bruce out of the car. But why didn’t Bruce Banner turn into the Hulk during the accident?
Bruce Banner didn’t turn into the Hulk during the accident because he was wearing an inhibitor device that kept him in his human form as long as he was wearing it. As such, even if he was under a lot of stress and was extremely angry and emotional, he would not transform into the Hulk.
It is also worth noting that Bruce Banner’s Hulk persona probably doesn’t exist anymore because he has learned to merge it with his regular personality to form Smart Hulk. But there were a few times when Bruce needed to be in his human form, and that was why he invented that inhibitor device. With that said, let’s look at why he didn’t change into the Hulk after that accident.
Why Didn’t Bruce Banner Transform During The Accident?
Ever since Bruce Banner was introduced into the MCU during the events of the 2008 Incredible Hulk movie, we came to understand how his transformation works. Essentially, Bruce transforms whenever he is angry or whenever he is in a heightened sense of distress. As such, he transforms when he knows that he is in danger, such as when someone is attacking him. That is why he was able to turn into the Hulk during the times when his life was in danger or when he was injured enough.
Since then, Bruce has come a long way in terms of his control over his transformation. He came to understand that the Hulk is an entirely different entity with its own personality, and that’s why he was never in full control over the transformation. But Bruce also made us see that he could actually merge the two different personalities into one when he came up with his Smart Hulk form, which essentially combines the Hulk’s strength and body with Bruce’s mind and personality.
Bruce debuted Smart Hulk during the events of Avengers: Endgame, but we also learned that this form was more or less a permanent transformation already because there was never a point where he turned back to his human form. This was what surprised fans during the post-credit scene of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings when Bruce was seen in a holographic transmission in his human form instead of his Smart Hulk form.
His human form was explained during the early parts of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law when Bruce Banner was on a road trip with his cousin, Jennifer Walters. In that scene, Bruce explained to Jen that he was able to temporarily regain his human form by wearing an inhibitor device on his arm. This essentially allowed him to assume his human whenever he needed to, and that was also the reason why he was human in the post-credit scene of Shang-Chi.
But we all know that, in the past, Bruce turned into the Hulk whenever he was in danger or when he was injured. That didn’t happen in She-Hulk when he and Jen were in a car accident as a result of the Sakaari spaceship suddenly appearing in front of them. Jen needed to save Bruce from the wreckage, as this was how she turned into She-Hulk when Bruce’s blood entered her bloodstream. So, why didn’t Bruce turn into the Hulk during the accident?
The reason why Bruce didn’t turn into the Hulk during the accident was the fact that his inhibitor device was still working. As mentioned, the inhibitor device was designed to keep him human so that he could still assume his human form after he achieved his Smart Hulk form. While he was very much in control over his Smart Hulk state, he still needed his human form during certain moments, such as the road trip he went with Jen, considering that he might not have been able to fit in the car as Smart Hulk.
It was only when the inhibitor device started to malfunction after it got damaged by the accident that Bruce Banner turned back into Smart Hulk. Basically, the fact that he was wearing that device, which was still working when he was in the car, suggests that the inhibitor was strong enough to keep him from transforming even if he was in a state of distress.
Still, Bruce did say that this device was just a prototype that only worked on him because it was calibrated to his specifications. As such, it might take a while for him to complete a new inhibitor device that could allow him to completely control his transformations.
Can Bruce Banner Turn Human At Any Time?
During the first episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, one of the things that we came to understand was the fact that Jen Walters was in control over her transformations. She eventually learned how to transform in and out of She-Hulk at will, as she was able to surprise her own cousin with the fact that she could achieve something that Bruce struggled to achieve in the 15 years he spent working on his Hulk transformation. So, can Bruce Banner also turn human at any time?
The fact that Bruce needed to use an inhibitor device suggests that he never learned how to return to his human form after he achieved the Smart Hulk form. He told Jen that achieving his Smart Hulk form was the best that he could ever achieve as he never truly learned how to control his transformations.
As such, Bruce never achieved what Jen was able to achieve—to be fully in control over their transformation. There are probably deeper reasons why Bruce struggled with his control over the Hulk transformation, but the fact that he still needs an external device to help him means that he still has a long way to go before he can jump in between his human and Hulk forms. That is, of course, if he could still return to his human form without the help of an inhibitor device.