Time moves differently in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — and not only at the Time Variance Authority.
2017’s Thor: Ragnarok establishes early on in its runtime that time passes at a much faster rate on Sakaar — a literal garbage planet created by Jeff Goldblum’s The Grandmaster — than it does throughout (most) of the rest of the universe.
The film goes on to state that Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner/The Hulk had been on Sakaar for a long time before Chris Hemsworth’s Thor finally showed up. However, Ragnarok never says exactly how long Hulk spent on Sakaar after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron saw him launched into space.
Fortunately, one mathematically minded Marvel fan may have just filled in that plot hole for the rest of us.
Hulk’s Hiatus — In Thor: Ragnarok, the God of Thunder arrives on Sakaar a few weeks after Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, despite the two having been thrown out of the Bifrost within seconds of each other. TikTok user @capwithoutacountry took that information and did the necessary math to determine how long Hulk must have spent on Sakaar by the time we meet him in Ragnarok.
The answer? Around 362,880 years.
Some Time Abroad — Assuming this theory is correct (and the math does conceivably check out), this changes Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner in a fundamental way. Not only does it make the character hundreds of thousands of years older than we thought he was; it also means that Bruce spent over 300,000 years as The Hulk without ever transforming back into Bruce (as seen in Ragnarok).
That redefines Bruce’s journey in both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. If The Hulk really was in control for around 300,000 years, it makes more sense why the big green guy was so reluctant to come to Banner’s rescue in Infinity War, following his stinging defeat at the hands of Thanos (Josh Brolin) in that film’s prologue.
But if The Hulk was running the show all that time, it also makes the character’s transformation into “Professor Hulk” in Avengers: Endgame more believable. There is, after all, a big difference between a Bruce Banner who’s been dealing with The Hulk for several decades and one who has hundreds of thousands of years’ experience interacting with his green alter ego.
The Inverse Analysis — Now, it’s entirely possible this theory will be proven incorrect and that Marvel will come up with some retroactive explanation that shortens the amount of time Bruce spent on Sakaar between Age of Ultron and Ragnarok.
But for the time being, there’s no reason to disbelieve this “theory.” In other words, we should all start looking at The Hulk a little differently.