Bruce Banner/Tony Stark

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Pairing: Bruce Banner/Tony Stark
Alternative name(s): Science Boyfriends, Science Husbands, Rage Against the Machine, Stanner, Brony, Trucey, Science Bros, Science Alliance
Gender category: Slash, M/M
Fandom: The Avengers Movieverse (MCU)
Canonical?: Non-canon
Prevalence: High
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Bruce/Tony is a non-canon pairing of Bruce Banner (Hulk) and Tony Stark (Iron Man) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


Tony Stark and Bruce Banner share a close friendship in Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron. The duo hug during Avengers: Infinity Wars.


Though minor to nonexistent in the fandom prior to the release of Marvel's The Avengers film (2012), the Bruce/Tony pairing made a huge jump in popularity directly after the movie's release and is now one of the most popular pairings in the fandom.

Fandom & TPTB

Both actors behind the characters of Bruce (Mark Ruffalo) and Tony (Robert Downey Jr) know about the pairing. Ruffalo has known about the Science Bros pairing since 2013 due to an interview with Vulture as he is shown fanart of the ship and is supportive of the pairing:

"Yes! It's me and Robert! Look at this! There's thousands of them!" Ruffalo tried to contain himself. "It's called the Science Bros. This is awesome. I've never heard of it. Why hasn't anyone told me about that?"

Is he now a Science Bros shipper, then? "Yeah! I love it; it's awesome," Ruffalo enthused. "I endorse it 100 percent. You know what it is? It's open-source creativity." And here's a scenario for the fans to contemplate: Ruffalo couldn't wait to drop his newfound knowledge bomb on Downey Jr. "I'm going to call him and tell him, and he's going to laugh his ass off," Ruffalo said. "He'll love that."[1]

The rest of the cast of The Avengers: Age of Ultron seem to have found out in 2015 (Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner) thanks to an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live[2], where Jimmy Kimmel shows the cast several fanart works of Bruce/Tony (and Thor Odinson & Steve Rogers). RDJ and Mark actually recreate a fanart scene as well[3].

For Valentine's Day 2018, RDJ posted a Twitter post with an image supporting Steve/Tony, Bruce/Tony, and Pepper/Tony[4].

Common Tropes

  • The Hulk is a Giant Green Cockblock - In The Incredible Hulk (2008) film, there is a scene where Bruce Banner (played by Edward Norton) and Betty Ross (played by Liv Tyler) are kissing, but Bruce has to pull away because his heart-rate monitor (which warns him when he is in danger of "hulking out") begins to beep. Therefore, in the MCU at least, Bruce Banner cannot have sex (or presumably reach an orgasm of any sort). Given Tony's playboy nature, it is extremely common to find science bros/boyfriends fanfic in which Tony volunteers to help Bruce with his cockblocking problem, for science! The trope often plays out in one of two ways:
    • Hulk Control Through Science: Using all the monitoring tech at his disposal (often including JARVIS) Tony assists Bruce's own experiments with hormones and/or chemicals designed to prevent hulking out. Tony often also builds Bruce a Hulk-proof room in which to conduct his experiments in sexual arousal. An example of this style is Experimentation by ifitwasribald.
    • Hulk Control Through BDSM: Assuming that the Hulk is more psychologically based than biologically based, other authors have Tony and Bruce discover that hulk-outs can be prevented during sex if Bruce is in subspace, so Tony becomes Bruce's Dom. An example of this style is the series Perspective by Silverlace_Vine, which ends up being Stark Spangled Banner with a demisexual Steve.
  • Tony Pokes You Because He Loves You - In The Avengers (2012) film, Tony pokes Bruce with a small electrified rod while they're working on the helicarrier, then examines his eyes for any sign of green (there isn't any). It is one of many interactions between the two men where Tony alternately praises and provokes Bruce with the Hulk. Many fans take that as a sign of how much faith Tony places in Bruce's control of the Hulk, and reason that Bruce would therefore be drawn to Tony. Some examples of this dynamic made explicit in fic are terms of endearment by pprfaith and Unexpected Faith.
  • Tony is a Size Queen - Based on Tony's playboy status, quite a few fanworks assume he is a size queen, and portray him fantasizing about the Hulk's size (for example, No Qualifications Needed by Isagel). Others, which assume the Hulk isn't *much* larger than a standard human, show Tony penetrated by the Hulk (for example, Make Mine Hulk-Sized by Kitkat973).
  • Tony Shows off the Arc Reactor - In Marvel's Iron Man (2008), Tony Stark allows Pepper Potts to touch his arc reactor. Many Banner/Stark fics take this idea and run with it, writing about the first time Tony shows Bruce the reactor as a romantic moment.


  • Science Boyfriends/Husbands, Rage Against the Machine, Stanner, Brony, Trucey are the romantic pairing names for the ship.
  • Science Bros and Science Alliance are the platonic pairing names for the ship.
  • Superfamily



  • Feelings Under Seriously Intense Observation and Negotiation by thebratqueen: ~30,000 words, rated Explicit. Tony was fine. Talking to Tony about science was fine. It just felt a little bit strange to combine the two and ask to see the incredible scientific innovation that happened to reside inside of Tony’s chest.
  • Irreconcilable Differences by determamfidd: ~134,000 words, rated Explicit. Bruce has been searching for a cure again, but Tony doesn't think the green guy is a disease. Abruptly, he's given everything he's ever wanted, and... well, it seems it's all more complicated than that.
  • No Force in the Universe Can Stop Me by notbeloved07: ~15,000 words, rated Teen and Up. In an AU, instead of taking out Tony's arc-reactor, Obadiah Stane kidnapped Tony, faked his death in a "lab accident", imprisoned him, and forced him to design weapons for Stane. Bruce is going about his day hacking Stark Industries to learn more about the Hulkbuster weapons when he comes across some discrepancies in the code--subtle things, like inefficient loops in otherwise streamlined code, bizarre variable names, or incorrect comments. Intrigued, he goes through all the code of SI's weapons industry, comes up with a pattern, and finds the messages Tony has been hiding in the code. And then he goes and busts Tony out. Lots of badassery, including on Tony's part--he may be defeated, but he's not broken.
  • so here's to drinks in the dark at the end of my rope by sleeponrooftops: ~12,000 words, rated Explicit. “That you’re in love with each other. God, it’s like—it’s kind of ridiculous.” When he says this, Bruce snaps his gaze back up, frowning. “You two are so stubborn and blind, but the whole world knows that science boyfriends—I mean, honestly—isn’t just a pet term for you two. Even Jarvis knows, okay. You two are so stupid.”
  • Stark, A.E., and Banner, R. Bruce. (2013). "Biodosimetric Tools for Measuring Induced Isomeric Transition in Inverted Paired States." International Journal of Radiation Biology 89.9, 43-85. by thingswithwings: ~17,000 words, rated Explicit. Background Tony/Pepper. "And so," Tony concludes triumphantly, "you owe it to science, to yourself, and to the people of New York City to have tons of hot awesome monster sex with me."
  • Tony and Bruce series by icarus_chained: ~14,000 words, rated Teen and Up. Tony & Bruce friendship series (including Bruce/Betty and Tony/Pepper). You don't mess with either, without facing the other.
  • When Eyes Meet Eyes by luxshine: ~50,000 words, rated Explicit. Soul Bond AU. In a world where everyone has a soulmate, and finding them is as easy as following your heart, Tony Stark is convinced that he needs no one at his side. Bruce Banner, on the other hand, is convinced he doesn't deserve anyone. Fate, however, has other ideas.

Fan Art


Additional Art Gallery

Archives and Communities

External Links



  1. ^ Mark Ruffalo Reacts to ‘Science Bros,’ the Tony Stark–Bruce Banner Romance Meme Darla Murray of Vulture. Published April 17, 2013.
  2. ^ The Avengers Discuss “Science Bros” And Other Strange Fan Art. Jimmy Kimmel Live YouTube clip. Published April 14, 2015.
  3. ^ Robert Downey Jr and Mark Ruffalo reenact ‘Science Bros’ meme on Jimmy Kimmel Mike Villarreal at April 15, 2015.
  4. ^ Happy Valentine’s Day to all the shippers out there! Robert Downey Jr Twitter. Published February 14, 2018.