The Hulk Gets a Fresh Start in ‘The Avengers’
Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., and Chris Hemsworth in Marvel's 'The Avengers'
In the past decade, there have been two attempts to bring Marvel Comics' "Incredible Hulk" to the big screen. And neither fully satisfied critics or comic-book fans with how they portrayed Bruce Banner, the mild-mannered scientist who grows into an uncontrollable green monstrosity when he gets angry.
So when writer/director Joss Whedon (creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") was brought aboard "The Avengers" -- next year's movie that teams up the Hulk with fellow superheroes Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor -- he had both the opportunity and the challenge of giving the character a fresh start. Luckily for Whedon, he had a great Oscar-nominated actor, Mark Ruffalo, to help him redefine both Banner and Hulk.
Photo: Michael Buckner, Getty Images
Whedon told me that he and Ruffalo both agreed that they wanted their version of Dr. Banner to follow the model established by Bill Bixby in the '70s TV version of "The Incredible Hulk," rather than how he had been portrayed in the more recent films. The character on the show, they felt, "was busy helping other people.... That was more interesting to us than the Banner in the first two movies who was always fixated on curing himself."
Once the actor and director found a common vision for how they would handle Bruce Banner's personality, they had to work out the other side of the role: the lumbering, destructive, out-of-control Hulk. Whedon admitted that he and Ruffalo fought over this. Physically. He said, "I mean literally we actually got some pads out and did some tussling. Just to talk about the physicality of somebody who has to control this thing, and the way he moves in space and the way he relates to the people and the objects around him. It was extremely fun."