Of all the headlining superheroes in last summer’s The Avengers, the one who made the biggest impression was smashing, brawling Hulk and his human alter ego, the always-angry Dr. Bruce Banner, played by Oscar-nominated actor Mark Ruffalo. While Phase Two in the Marvel Studios master plan includes sequels for Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America, everyone’s favorite green rage monster has a less obvious onscreen future.
In an exclusive discussion with IAR, Mark Ruffalo himself has offered some insight on what’s in store for Bruce Banner and his other, more destructive half.
Banner is expected to once again play a major role in the climactic movie of Phase Two, The Avengers 2, which is currently in pre-production under Joss Whedon for a May 1, 2015 release date. But at least one Phase Two entry, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, features many The Avengers alumni returning to the shared Marvel universe.
That has some fans hoping to see more of Ruffalo in character before the return of the superteam. In an interview with Ruffalo in New Orleans promoting this month’s ensemble thriller Now You See Me, IAR Managing Editor Jami Philbrick had the opportunity to inquire about the possibility of comic book cameos, to which a non-committal Ruffalo replied, “I don’t know, maybe, maybe not.”
Spoiler, but if you’ve seen the post-credits tag on Shane Black’s Iron Man 3, then you know that Banner has already returned to the character for an amusing dialogue scene with Tony Stark.
Continuing on potential future cameos, Ruffalo addressed that cameo, saying, “They haven’t talked about it with me, that kind of came up at the last minute. It was literally, they were about to wrap the movie and I saw Robert (Downey Jr.) at the Academy Awards and he had this idea.”
“Marvel had had an idea but then they scraped it and I thought it wasn’t going to happen,” Ruffalo went on. “Then I saw Robert and he said, ‘What do you think about coming and doing a day?’ I said, ‘Are you kidding me? Bang, lets do it!’ We sort of spitballed that scene, then I came in and we shot for a couple of hours and laughed. I haven’t seen it yet but people seem to like it.”
The pairing of Banner and Stark is indeed popular, and after The Avengers, meme-happy fans were happy to create a surprisingly elaborate online sub-sub-genre of Ruffalo/Downey Jr. fan art for the relationship now known as the “Science Bros.”
In an odd coincidence, Ruffalo’s director on Now You See Me is none other than Louis Leterrier, who helmed Hulk’s inaugural Marvel Studios adventure with 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, which starred Edward Norton as Bruce Banner.
Collaborating with Leterrier on Now You See Me, Ruffalo found the two of them discussing how the character would evolve from The Incredible Hulk to The Avengers. “He would say, ‘What’s it going to be like?’ I had just come off of it,” Ruffalo recalled. “He wanted to know the direction we were going in and I said basically we were basically picking up where he left off but he’s just older and wiser. He was very supportive.”