Mark Ruffalo is now one of the most consistent and enjoyable stars of the MCU, riding the waves of the constant changes to Hulk over the years. While Marvel’s vision for the big, green, rage beast hasn’t always been clear, Ruffalo has always stood out as somebody special.
But back when we first had the chance to join the MCU for 2012’s The Avengers, Ruffalo thought the role sounded “like a trap”. Sure, he was being offered one of the most memorable MCU characters and several new movies in his deal, but there were plenty of ways it could all go wrong. Fortunately, the star backed himself, as he explained in a new interview with High Snobiety.
Ruffalo said: “It’s a tough part – how do you get away with playing a character that doesn’t want to do what everybody wants him to do and sustain that? It’s like a trap. I read it and I was like: ‘I can do something with this’.”
The situation was even stranger for Ruffalo after the experience he had with Zodiac just a few years earlier, in which a studio negotiator apparently told his manager: “We don’t give a shit about Mark Ruffalo, we don’t even want Mark Ruffalo in this movie, so you’re going to take what we’re offering you or forget it.”
To go from that to being approached to play one of the most famous superheroes around would have been quite the jump and Ruffalo explained that the Hulk offer came “out of the blue”. Out of the green, surely?
But Ruffalo was absolutely right to trust his instincts, given how much fun we’ve had with Hulk in the best superhero movies over the years. We still quote his “I’m always angry” and “puny God” lines from Avengers all the time and he has shown real willingness to reinvent the character over the years, including in the recent Marvel series She-Hulk.
If you watch the Marvel movies in order again and focus on Hulk, it’s bizarre how much he has shifted, without ever getting a movie of his own due to the complicated tangle of character rights involving Universal. Ownership of the Edward Norton-starring movie The Incredible Hulk is back with Marvel as of June 2023, but we don’t know for sure whether the character rights for solo movies have followed suit.
So while Bruce Banner’s future in Marvel’s Phase 5 and Marvel Phase 6 is unclear, we know that Ruffalo was a crucial cog throughout the golden era of the MCU. He has been a somewhat thankless supporting player in a lot of the best movies in the franchise, but he has made the most of his screen time, fulfiling the pledge he made to himself when he first read the script.
“I’ve really gotten to explore that part in every single way that I wanted to,” said Ruffalo. “I’m really grateful, because it’s given me a chance to do other things that I probably wouldn’t have a chance to do without that behind me.”
A decade later, we can see that playing Hulk was anything but a trap. And that’s all down to Ruffalo himself, so he should take a bow – or, more appropriately, smash something.
As for the upcoming Marvel movies on the way very soon, we’ve got complete guides to Deadpool 3 and the Captain America 4 release date. You can also get our take on the most recent MCU outing with our The Marvels review.
Alternatively, dive deeper into the recent MCU as we explain why Captain Marvel just became a new Disney princess. We’ve also explored why The Marvels’ box office performance has nothing to do with ‘wokeness’.