Thanos bested Hulk at the start of Avengers: Infinity War and we never got to see the rematch, McFeely explains why!
Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame excelled at two things subverting expectations and giving something unexpected. “Edge of the seat entertainment” is one of the most overused terms while describing blockbuster movies but the phrase rings true for both the Avengers movie because no one in the world, except for the writers, directors, and editor of the movie, knew what was going to happen in the film.
Watch: The trailer for Avengers Endgame
While sitting down to watch the films everyone was sitting with a certain level of expectation about where the movie is headed, but the directors pulled the rug from under the viewers by making the first movie about the villain and setting the second movie five years after the events of the first film. The movies were entertaining for precisely those reasons, all the theories are gone, and now people can be thoroughly entertained. One of the most entertaining aspects of the first film except for Thor’s entry in Wakanda was the battle between the green and purple beast at the start of the movie.
After 25 minutes into Endgame, we can see Natasha is taking control of the Avengers HQ from where she communicates with everyone to make sure the world doesn’t fall into any more chaos. (By the way, the communication between 'Okoye' and 'Natasha' consisted of a small easter-egg which isn’t confirmed yet, but maybe Namor is coming to the MCU!!) Tony is living a quiet life with a family-like he always wanted, Captain is helping people cope, but the most significant change we see among all the heroes is with Hulk. During the five years of time, Hulk merged with the smart 'Bruce Banner' to become the Smart-Hulk.
Watch: Hulk explains how he became the Smart-Hulk
It was a drastic change for the green giant who was missing in action during the final battle of Wakanda. Hulk left Banner to fend for himself because Thanos bested him aboard the Asgardian ship. During the biggest battle of the Avengers’ time together, Hulk abandoned the team, and this was the point where fans thought maybe Hulk is going to redeem himself in Endgame by laying Thanos on his ass, but it never came to pass. Thanos bested Hulk and Hulk didn’t even get a one on one match during the final battle (Well, Mark Ruffalo probably didn’t get a contract like Dwayne Johnson or Vin Diesel it seems.)
Fans were disappointed the rematch between Hulk and Thanos never happened but like almost everything in Avengers: Endgame the writers came in with a perfect answer to why the rematch never happened. According to Stephen McFeely, the rematch never happened because of the state Hulk was in during the final battle in Endgame. McFeely said, “I know a lot of people were saying they can’t wait for [Hulk and Thanos’] rematch. Well, that would’ve made sense had he not become Smart Hulk. He’s a whole different thing, and that’s not what drives him. So we never thought, ‘Oh, he really is trying to get a crack at Thanos now,’”
Watch: The battle between Thor and Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War
It makes sense after Hulk used the stones to bring back all the people who died during the first snap, the Gamma radiation burned almost all of the right side of his body. During the “Avengers Assemble” moment everyone can see Hulk is in pain and he is holding his left arm so it would be foolish to go up against Thanos in the condition he was in.
When the commentary on the movie by the creators came with the home entertainment, it was revealed Smart Hulk was supposed to appear at the end of Wakanda battle. During the battle with Cull Obsidian, Hulk was supposed to come out finally and beat Cull’s ass and then Natasha would do the whole “sun is getting real low” type of thing and then Hulk turns and speaks to Nat in English, it would’ve been funny but the directors were right in cutting the scene because the tone of the scene doesn’t particularly gel with what happened next.
Watch: Hulk uses the Gauntlet and burns his right arm
By the directors and the writer’s comment, it is clear the rematch was never on the cards to appear in the final film. The whole final battle was supposed to be a battle between the Marvel trinity and Thanos and Hulk, or any other Avengers were just there to assist. It was the correct decision to let the three main heroes of MCU battle it out with Thanos, considering two of the three stepped away from the role after the battle. Tony died, and Steve took Tony’s advice to get a life and Thor was finally on the path to set himself straight after the events of Infinity War.
The final battle was a sendoff to the two leading heroes of the Avengers, and if we need to trade in a revenge matchup between Thanos and Hulk for the final goodbye to Tony and 'Steve', then we are begrudging willing to do it.