What’s Up With Black Widow & The Hulk? The Prospects Of An ‘Endgame’ Romance Are Pretty Bleak

With the April 26 premiere of Avengers: Endgame April 26 premiere around the corner, the MCU fan theory machine is in overdrive. Infinity War seemingly took all the rules and threw them out the window when Thanos snapped his fingers and killed off half of the Avengers, Guardians, and oh, the rest of the earth's population — including Nick Fury and Maria Hill. Up until this point, nothing quite so drastic has happened in the MCU. So if anything can happen, what does that mean for Endgame's possible romances? Are Black Widow and the Hulk finally going to be together? And what is even up with them anyway?

As you probably remember from 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron, the pair seem to have developed a... special relationship, even as there seemed to be nothing romantic between them in the previous Avengers film and the focus on Nat's infertility being an obstacle for them offended many. But while dealing with the fallout from the titular humanoid turning evil, Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) finds a way to help the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) learn to control his unpredictable outbursts. In one scene between Hulk and Natasha, she seemingly tames his rage with a soft stroke on his hand — and yes, if you replace a few words in that sentence then you have full-blown fanfic.

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As you probably remember, Age of Ultron ends with Banner deciding that he'd rather be alone than endanger Natasha with the Hulk's uncontrollable bouts of violent behavior. So he goes off on a Quinjet, remaining absent during Captain America: Civil War, only to return again as the Grandmaster's (Jeff Goldblum) captive on the planet Sakaar in Thor: Ragnarok. Bruce has a moment when he and Thor end back up on the Quinjet and he hears a recording of Nat's voice, but that's about it for romance. In Infinity War, the pair don't reunite until everyone convenes in Wakanda to prepare to battle the most powerful villain that they've ever faced. They have a charged greeting that Sam/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) announces is "awkward," which some fans read as an acknowledgement of the 'ship's unpopularity in the MCU fandom. And many of them are probably hoping that that was it.

As far as Natasha and Bruce getting a second shot at love in Endgame, the chances of are slim, for a few reasons. While some fans definitely supported the flirtations exchanged between Natasha and Banner — most of which being initiated by Natasha — it sounds like the Russo brothers aren't big fans of #HulkWidow. According to CBR.com, Joe Russo, one of Endgame's directors, said in a high school Q&A session that the pairing was "a [Joss] Whedon decision," referring to the Ultron director. While he supported the call, Russo seemed to confirm that, when it comes to Bruce and Nat, it's pretty much over.

"Look he disappeared for two years — she’s pretty self-sufficient, she didn’t wait around for him — there’s a sort of unspoken truth that there’s need to be a spoken resolution," Russo said. Fair enough.

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It's more likely, though still a long shot, that Natasha could be involved with someone else. Fans have noted chemistry with both Hawkeye in Avengers and Captain America in Captain America: Winter Soldier. But, as fans have been saying for quite a while now, it's time for Black Widow to get her own standalone film so she isn't just relegated to romantic subplots. That solo movie is supposed to happen, eventually. But as for Endgame, it sounds like Black Widow will be too focused on, y'know, saving the world to rekindle an old flame or light a new one.