When Marvel Studios released the first concept art from Joss Whedon’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron back in March, comic book fans became giddy with excitement as they got their first look at the cinematic version of one of Iron Man’s most legendary suits: the Hulkbuster armor. As awesome as it was, however, the image also generated interesting speculation regarding exactly why Iron Man and Hulk would be fighting (especially since they became Science Bros in the first Avengers movie).

The good news is that because of a trip I took with a small group of other journalists to visit the Avengers: Age of Ultron set this past summer, I have the answer to that particular burning question. With the concept art above still burning in our minds, we took the opportunity to ask Mark Ruffalo about the Iron Man vs. Hulk fight, and he explained that the battle is a fight between friends simply to find out who is tougher. Said the actor, laughing,
"It’s a little bit like Cool Hand Luke that way… Like, you think you could beat me, and then I’ll beat the crap out of you - and then I beat the crap out of him."

For those who don’t get the cinematic reference, Ruffalo was comparing the battle to the fight between Paul Newman (as Luke) and George Kennedy (as Dragline) in Stuart Rosenberg’s 1967 Oscar winner Cool Hand Luke. Stuck together in a rural prison, Luke and Dragline become involved in a brawl – despite the fact that the latter is much bigger and stronger than the former. Dragline beats the tar out of his fellow inmate, but Luke absolutely refuses to give up and just keeps charging his opponent. It’s a bonding moment for the two characters, as Dragline begins to feel a great deal of respect for Luke after the fight.

Of course, the circumstances won’t be exactly the same between Iron Man and Hulk in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and even Ruffalo added in our interview that the fight isn’t 100% straightforward. Added the actor, "It’s kinda’ like that, but not totally like that. It has a surprise – a little twist to it as well."

Of course, we won’t know all of the surprises and twists in The Avengers: Age of Ultron until it arrives in theaters on May 1, 2015, but we will have plenty more great behind-the-scenes info from the set visit for you in the days, weeks and months. In the meantime, you can head over to Page Two to watch the aforementioned fight from Cool Hand Luke and just imagine that Paul Newman is Iron Man and George Kennedy is Hulk.

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