You’d think that coming into a role played by two accomplished actors before him would make Mark Ruffalo’s job easier. Not so. On a thematic level, the Hulk’s 3rd cinematic outing totally deviates from whatever character groundwork Eric Bana and Edward Norton had previously laid down. The only form of continuity for the Hulk in Joss Whedon’s superhero ensemble film “The Avengers” is that the Bruce Banner of “The Incredible Hulk” had somewhat learnt to control the inner monster. He’s still a raging, unpredictable mountain of green muscle, but Ruffalo’s Hulk will reportedly be able to respond to simple notions of cooperation and teamwork. Other than that, Ruffalo is on his own. And he is relishing the freedom.
Speaking to Comicbookmovie.com recently, Ruffalo revealed that: “The Avengers isn’t the type film that I’ve done in the past or that I am usually invited to do. I was a little nervous about it because when Joss and I first met about the role there wasn’t a script. I thought a lot about Iron Man. I thought about what Robert Downey Jr. did with that part—he is one of my hero actors. I really loved what Robert did; he reinvented the genre. It made me feel like I could fit into that world with whatever it is I do. I had one meeting with Joss, who I liked instantly, so between him and Robert I was in. What appealed to both Joss and I about the character is that he would have a common man sort of feel to him and possess this world-weary charm. We also agreed he should have a sense of humor about his situation. Based on the last incarnation of The Incredible Hulk, there was the promise that Banner may actually have a little control over the Behemoth. We wanted him to be fun and interesting as Banner and awesome as Hulk.”
Executive producer Jeremey Latcham chimed in about the actor: “Mark Ruffalo is very funny and when he first got cast he said, ‘Bruce Banner is like his generation’s Hamlet. Everyone has to take a shot at it; it’s just required reading now for actors. I thought it was a funny way of looking at it because it really is a tough character and there have been a lot of great actors who have had a go at it. Mark really brings a lot of humanity to Bruce Banner and I think that his way into it is really to explore the human side of the character, who is a nice guy but very troubled.”
Whedon added: “Mark was my dream choice and I had my heart set on him. I wanted a completely fresh take on the character so I went to Marvel very early on and said, ‘I know the guy who would be a great Bruce Banner’ and they said, ‘Unless it’s Mark Ruffalo, we really don’t know.’ and I was like ‘What?!’ I just froze and said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding. You did not just say that,’ and I showed them my list that I had in my wallet with his name at the top and they were completely on board.”
“Besides Robert, Mark is probably the person I spent the most time with in pre-production,” said Whedon. “We talked about anger and how it manifests so we could get The Hulk away from being this roaring creature. Bruce Banner has given up on the idea that he can cure his anger problems and is just trying to manage it and focus all his energy on helping other people. He doesn’t want to be the center of attention and of course, he becomes the center of attention when he joins the team.”
As Bruce’s whereabouts at the beginning of the film, Ruffalo revealed: “Joss and I thought it would be cool if we found Banner at a leprosy colony in India where there’s so much suffering that it would be almost impossible to get angry at anything in life that would bring on the transformation into The Hulk.”
“The Avengers” also stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, and Samuel L. Jackson . It premieres 27th April here, and a week later in the US.