Not every Avenger can have their own Marvel movie. And because of that, certain core members of the team will be getting more screen time this summer in the epic ensemble adventure Avengers: Age of Ultron. One of those characters is fan-favorite The Hulk. He literally stole the show in Marvel's The Avengers, but since that time, we haven't seen the green goliath. Sure, Hulk has two solo adventures under his belt, but those were a long time ago. Audience are hungry to see the return of Bruce Banner, and according to star Mark Ruffalo, fans won't walk away disappointed. Though, it's unclear if this latest sequel is truly setting up a third Hulk solo film, or where he may wind up next.
Talking with Empire from the set of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mark Ruffalo offered new insight into this iteration of Hulk. He explains how he has evolved, and credits Banner with being the main driving force behind the creation of the Hulkbuster, which we've all seen and cheered on in the two recent trailers. About Hulk and his growing pains, /person/mark-ruffalo/Ruffalo teases:
"I think he's definitely matured a little bit since the last one. He's become more acclimated to this thing and to being part of the team. I think he feels more a part of them all. But in this particular take on it, it's a much more character-driven version of The Avengers than the first one. It gets a little deeper into each character. S.H.I.E.L.D. is not happening anymore, so there's not that much time spent with the S.H.I.E.L.D. stuff."
One of the biggest action set pieces promised by all of the Avengers: Age of Ultron promotional material thus far is Hulkbuster and its fight with Hulk. Mark Ruffalo reveals that Banner actually has a hand in creating this metal monstrosity as a means of dealing with his wild side. He explains:"Hulk is the kind of wild card. He's the loose cannon of the group. He's more like an atom bomb. You could guess where he's going to go but he could go either way. I think that there is, obviously, the day when everyone expects it to go wrong and that day comes. And they're ready. And Bruce designed the contingency plan. As much as you feel Bruce has some mastery over it - certainly, with 'I'm always angry' and he can turn into it at will - I still feel that there's some part of him that doesn't completely trust it and doesn't completely trust himself."
Mark Ruffalo went onto talk about the Jekyll & Hyde relationship between Bruce and his inner-rage monster The Hulk, and how it is handled in this particular story:"There's a battle going on between these two opposing egos that live inside him. He's definitely worried that the day is going to come when the Hulk gets the best of him, and maybe won't release him, maybe won't give him back. The Hulk knows this too. There's a moment in here where he, begrudgingly, decides to go back to Banner. Who knows where these things will go, but as Bruce is able to impress his will on the Hulk, going into The Hulk and being inside the Hulk when he's raging, The Hulk's will is also growing and able to impress upon Bruce. That makes for some wild things. We're laying the groundwork for that here. It'll be interesting to see if that ends up being what would be the next Hulk movie."
That brings up a question every fan wants to know: When is Hulk going to get another solo movie? While Mark Ruffalo is enthusiastic about that happening, its unclear when it will actually become a reality, or where the Hulk might appear next:"It's a tough nut to crack. Traditionally you're watching a guy who doesn't want to do the very thing that you want him to do. It's hard to take for two hours. I don't know how many times you can use that same framing for it, but now he's maturing and there's a cool dynamic growing between Banner and The Hulk. And the CGI is so much better. The stuff we can do now, you can do a real performance. I've been working with Andy Serkis [at his Imaginarium studio] and he has it set up where you go in there and you just start working on a character. It is so exciting to me, because I can do whatever I can imagine, with a team of people of course."
Is it possible that Bruce Banner could become the Hulk semi-permanently as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues on into the future? The idea has been explored in the comic books before, starting in January of 1991 in issue #377 of the original Incredible Hulk run, which saw Hulk and Banner merge into a new incarnation known as 'The Professor'. Will we ever see 'The Professor' on the big screen? Maybe in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 or the two part Avengers: Infinity War? Only time will tell!