The writers of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame explain why they phased out Black Widow and Hulk’s relationship.
One of the most surprising and polarizing aspects of Avengers: Age of Ultron was the romance between Natasha Romanoff and Bruce Banner. Ultimately, it was downplayed in the subsequent films, Infinity War and Endgame. Now, the writers of the films have elaborated on their exact reasoning for removing this plot point.
Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely recently revealed to Empire Magazine (via ComicBookMovie.com) that the romance was to be addressed in Infinity War. There were even scenes that were written and shot for it. However, according to McFeely, they didn’t fit into the overall story that was being told:
"“We certainly tried to. In Infinity War we have scenes…wrote ‘em, shot ‘em…of them sort of hashing that out. You’ve been gone, I’ve moved on’ – that kind of stuff. It became very clear that if a scene was not on the ‘A plot’, it could not survive Infinity War. That thing has to be on rails just to get to the finish line. You couldn’t wrap up loose threads just because you wanted to.”"
Despite there being no time for it in Infinity War, there was still a chance to add it to Endgame. But Markus explained that it wouldn’t quite make sense to reintroduce the romance at that point in time, especially given the Hulk’s new status:
"“He was smart Hulk in this movie and it did seem a little odd, in the midst of everyone’s mourning and his change to a 2000-pound genius, to go, ‘and they’re dating!'”"
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Based on the response to the Romanoff/Banner romance, it wasn’t too surprising that Markus and McFeely and directors Joe and Anthony Russo opted not to build on Joss Whedon’s controversial creative decision.
Still, Age of Ultron wasn’t the last time the relationship was alluded to. Taika Waititi referenced and poked fun at it in Thor: Ragnarok. And despite the scenes (which were briefly teased in trailers) being cut, it was still hinted at when the two characters first see each other in Infinity War. Even Endgame subtly referenced it, which is evident through Bruce’s anger over Natasha’s sacrifice and his admission that he attempted to revive her with the second Snap.
Fans weren’t clamoring for a Black Widow/Hulk relationship and, with everything else going in the last two Avengers films, they probably didn’t think too much about it. So leaving it out may have been a smart move.