Comics Have Already Set Up How Hulk Could Remember Peter Parker in the MCU

Following the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home, the inhabitants of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have forgotten that Peter Parker ever existed. The final moments of No Way Home showed a Spider-Man cut off from both his closest friends and his wealthy benefactors at Stark Industries. Despite that, there is still a question as to whether Doctor Strange’s spell has a loophole of some sort that could be used to keep Parker from being completely forgotten.

Fan theories casting an eye towards the MCU have posited that current Sorcerer Supreme Wong and even Doctor Strange himself might be exempt from the spell’s effects. This actually makes a certain amount of sense, given their involvement in No Way Home and the chaotic nature of magic. Casting a wider net to include precedent from the comics, there is another character who might remember Peter, even if his “other half” does not: The Hulk.

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The Hulk’s ability to remember Spider-Man’s secret identity when even Bruce Banner could not was revealed in 2020’s Immortal Hulk: Great Power. Written by Tom Taylor with art from Jorge Molina and David Curiel, Great Power sees Spider-Man gain the Hulk’s powers thanks to an errant spell by Loki. Bruce Banner then pursues the Spider-Man / Hulk hybrid in an attempt to mitigate any damage he might cause.

Realizing he’s out of his depth dealing with the Hulk’s physicality combined with Spider-Man’s abilities, Banner calls The Fantastic Four for help. Spider-Man and Banner’s mutual friends meet some resistance, but they’re able to subdue Spider-Man before he can do any serious damage.

A temporary solution to the Spider-Hulk’s rampages is found by placing him on an abandoned island that once served as a military research facility. Banner keeps him company and offers the transformed Spider-Man advice for dealing with the monster inside him. He also gets to watch Spider-Hulk knock down a building that serves as a stand-in for his greatest enemy, Norman Osborn.

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The make-shift group confronts Loki, hoping he can reverse the spell, but the Asgardian god concludes that doing so would only make things worse. With magic having failed them, the group’s brain trust puts their heads together to find a solution, and Spider-Man surprises Banner by coming up with one.

Banner’s surprise at Spider-Man’s scientific acumen is a big tip-off that he does not know his secret identity. The Hulk confirms this after he absorbs the gamma energy empowering Spider-Man, making the monster whole again. After Banner stands by him during his ordeal, Spider-Man decides to stay with Banner on the verge of him once again transforming into the monster, putting a hand on his shoulder.

When The Hulk emerges, he asks Peter what he’s doing, not Spider-Man. This distinction clearly surprises the web-slinger. Previously, Spider-Man made everyone forget his secret identity (including Banner), but somehow, the Hulk remembered. This occurred in the infamous “One More Day” storyline, in which Parker made a Faustian bargain with Mephisto to undo his unmasking in Civil War.

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As entertaining as a movie where Tom Holland’s Spider-Man Hulks out and Mark Ruffalo’s Banner has to try to keep him from wreaking havoc could be, a specific adaptation of Great Power is unnecessary. The fact that it establishes that The Hulk remembers things that the world at large (and Banner specifically) does not is all that needs to be adapted.

Banner remembering that Peter is Spider-Man would come in handy when The Avengers finally reassemble. It would make it easier to bring the web-head back to the fold if Banner appealed to the man behind the mask. He could also offer support to Peter that he can no longer get from Tony Stark. If Ruffalo’s Hulk passes the “banner” to She-Hulk in her upcoming Disney + series, this may include secrets like Spider-Man’s identity, so she can come to his aid instead.

As the last remaining active Avenger, The Hulk knowing things Banner could not open up some interesting plot threads. In Spider-Man’s case, it could help define his MCU future, or at least give him the solace that the entire world has not moved on without him, and also facilitates a team-up story featuring Spider-Man and The Hulk.

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