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Warning: Spoilers for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode “One of Us” (2x13) (and for The Incredible Hulk, though I’m pretty sure everyone’s seen it who’s going to see it!)
In Tuesday’s episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “One of Us,” Coulson and May brought in a psychiatrist from Culver University to meet with Skye and evaluate her control of her abilities and her emotional state following the traumas of meeting her father, being captured, gaining powers, and seeing Tripp die. The psychiatrist, May’s ex-husband Dr. Andrew Garner, observed Skye on the Bus, talked with her, and watched her in action in the field. His evaluation was… not promising.
According to Dr. Garner, Skye is not controlling her powers; she’s actually directing all the force inward against her own body. Consequently, when she was burying her powers in Wisconsin, she hurt herself by rupturing capillaries in her hands and causing hairline fractures all down her arms. Because she’s not controlling her powers well, Dr. Garner gave S.H.I.E.L.D. two prescriptions: Skye needs to be seeing a therapist (not him), and she needs to be away from S.H.I.E.L.D. and all its attendant stresses.
That got me thinking: Who could be Skye’s therapist? I think I have the answer!
We’ve been speculating ever since Marvel announced Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. about which Avengers could appear on the small screen. I’ve been a huge fan of Hawkeye making a cameo appearance, especially since he hasn’t shown up in any of the Phase 2 movies. And I still think that would be awesome. However, after this episode I’m changing tracks as far as Avenger cameos go: I don’t think it’s going to be Hawkeye, or at least not just Hawkeye. Instead, I think a different Avenger is going to appear on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. first to help Skye learn to control her powers. And that Avenger is:
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That’s right: Bruce Banner, aka the Hulk, will appear on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to help Skye control her powers. This may sound crazy, but when you look at the evidence, it actually makes a lot of sense.
Of the heroes we’ve met so far in the MCU, how many of them struggle with their powers and wish they didn’t have them? Iron Man laps up the attention he receives. Captain America uses his powers to serve his country. Thor enjoys being Thor. Black Widow and Hawkeye presumably have their struggles, but they ultimately do what needs to be done—and they don’t have super powers. Looking at all the secondary heroes—War Machine, Falcon, Sif, the Warriors Three—none of them display any real struggles with their powers. Struggles with worthiness, loyalty to friends, country, etc.… we see all of those things with them, but not any fear of what their powers can do. That trait is unique to the Hulk. And that is something that he and Skye have in common.
In The Incredible Hulk (I know, everyone’s been trying to forget that movie ever happened, but bear with me here), Bruce is terrified to let the beast out for the entire movie until the Abomination shows up at the end and starts breaking his way through Harlem. At that point Bruce is forced to recognize that the unstoppable force inside of him (aka the Hulk) might be the only option available to them to stop the Abomination. In The Avengers, Bruce again does not want to do anything that would risk the Hulk coming out, viewing him as a hindrance rather than a help. However, when push comes to shove, Bruce realizes that he needs to help and lets the Hulk out. Does the first part of each of these descriptions sound familiar? Through the first three episodes of this half-season, Skye has been suppressing her abilities and burying them so they can’t harm those she cares about—just like Bruce. Maybe Bruce is the one who can help her see the good that her gift can do.
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Related to the previous point, the Hulk is the only hero we’ve met so far who struggles with control issues. In The Incredible Hulk, Bruce uses some of the same techniques to control the Hulk that Skye has been trying to use so far on her tremors. While in South America, Bruce works with a martial artist to work on controlling his breathing. Bruce suppresses emotions like excitement and anger because they can bring out the Hulk. Bruce even wears a heart rate monitor watch similar to the bio-scanner watch Skye has worn to monitor and control his heart rate. And yet, during his time in Canada and India between The Incredible Hulk and The Avengers, Bruce learned to control the Hulk so that he could not only suppress him, but also unleash him when necessary. That is exactly what Skye needs to learn to do.
A third connection Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has made to The Incredible Hulk is through Dr. Garner and Culver University. There’s at least one continuity issue with this particular Easter Egg/connection, but a Culver University is the place where Bruce did the experimentation with gamma radiation which produced the Hulk—meaning that he was likely on the faculty there. Depending on how long Dr. Garner has been on the faculty at Culver University, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for him to have known Dr. Banner—and even to know some of the background of his super soldier experimentation and its resultant creation of the Hulk. Alternatively, Dr. Garner could have a connection to Dr. Ross or Dr. Samson—perhaps as Betty’s psychiatrist—either of whom could have filled him in over the years. And that’s to say nothing of Dr. Garner’s previous experiences consulting with S.H.I.E.L.D.; who’s to say that is wasn’t because of the events of The Incredible Hulk that Dr. Garner first came into contact with S.H.I.E.L.D. as their go-to therapist for “gifted individuals”?
Side Note—Now for the continuity issue with Culver University: In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., they label the university as “Culver University, West Virginia.” In The Incredible Hulk, when Bruce returns home it is labeled as “Culver University, Virginia.” It’s just one word, but to someone from West Virginia or Virginia I’m sure it’s more than just a word! So for fun, here are a couple possibilities to reconcile the Virginia/West Virginia thing:
- The Incredible Hulk actually happened during the first part of the Civil War, with General Ross seeking to weaponize the Hulk and use him against the North. Problem: This would put the entire MCU back in the 1860s-70s, and the technology is just too advanced for that time period. (Yeah, because that’s the only problem with this theory!)
- The Marvel Cinematic Universe happens in an alternate universe in which West Virginia does not become a state until after the events of The Avengers. Problems: How would the Chitauri invasion cause a state to split? Also, I’m pretty sure they showed flags with 50 stars in the Phase 1 movies.
- Culver University has 2 campuses in separate states. Benefit: This is the second-simplest possible answer.
- Someone made a mistake. Benefit: This is the absolute simplest possible answer.
But now back to the actual topic.
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All of these connections make me think that there is a good chance of Bruce Banner showing up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to help Skye understand, appreciate, and control her abilities. That would be an interesting interaction to watch develop, especially if they devote sections of 2 or 3 episodes to it. In fact, having Bruce train Skye would only make it more heartbreaking if and when he loses control at the hands of the Scarlet Witch during Age of Ultron. How traumatizing would it be for Skye to watch an Avenger she knows—one who helped her with her own control issues—suffer from control issues himself?
So what do you think? Do you think Dr. Banner is going to show up to help Skye? Do you think it will be someone else? Let me know in the comments section!