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It’s been a long time since we’ve seen the Hulk on the big screen. While the likes of Captain America, Thor and Iron Man all got their own films in Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner was relegated to just having a small cameo in a post-credits sequence. But just because the character hasn’t been on screen doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have some very interesting stuff going on.
This past summer I had the pleasure of joining a small group of other journalists to visit the set of Joss Whedon’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and speaking with Mark Ruffalo behind the scenes we discovered some fascinating info about what Hulk has been up to since 2012 and what he will be doing in the upcoming blockbuster. There’s a lot of great stuff, so read on!
1. In The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Bruce Banner and Hulk have reached a détente.In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Bruce Banner has spent years trying to make peace with the giant green rage monster inside him, and while real peace may be impossible an impossible dream, by The Avengers: Age of Ultron, the good doctor has started to gain control and live a somewhat normal life.
2. But that may just be the calm before the storm.We learned in The Avengers that Banner keeps a cap on Hulk by always being angry, but, as Mark Ruffalo puts it, "when you think you have control over it, you absolutely don’t." There is a battle brewing between the two sides of the character, and it won’t be long before we see them come to confrontation.
3. Bruce Banner is actually living in Avengers Tower.As seen in the post-credits sequence of Iron Man 3, Bruce Banner and Tony Stark got close after the events of The Avengers, but what you probably don’t know is that the billionaire playboy philanthropist superhero also put a roof over his head. It’s rather convenient given that Banner also has a lab in the building, where he has been working with Tony on ways to forever maintain global security.
4. Expect even more "Science Bros" In The Avengers: Age of UltronBanner might not function too well as Stark’s therapist, but when they are in the lab together they basically complete each other. Ruffalo told us that The Avengers: Age of Ultron sees their shorthand reach an entirely new level. "They complement each other," the actor said.
5. Expect a bit of a surprise in the Hulk/Hulkbuster fight.As seen in The Avengers: Age of Ultron spectacular first trailer, the battle between the Hulk and Iron Man’s Hulkbuster armor looks absolutely epic – but it won’t be as straight forward as it may seem. While he wouldn’t really elaborate, Ruffalo told us that there is an interesting twist element to it. We can’t stop thinking about the possibilities…
6. Bruce Banner has finally found a family.Because of his gamma radiation-related condition, Bruce Banner has spent a good amount of his adult life all by himself – but in The Avengers: Age of Ultron that truly begins to change for him. In his superhero friends, he has found a family and a way to be a part of something bigger than himself.
7. Part of living a normal life possibly means romance.It’s not entirely clear what happened to Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) after the end of The Incredible Hulk, but Mark Ruffalo suggested in our interview that Banner may have found new love in his life. Of course, whether or not he can actually maintain a normal relationship with the monster inside of him is a question that will always be up for debate and weighing on him.
8. For Mark Ruffalo, controlling Hulk is a lot like being a puppeteer.Discussing his motion capture work as Hulk and his collaboration with Andy Serkis, Ruffalo noted that the new acting form is actually akin to something like puppeteering, where the actor is no longer limited by their own physical attributes. "None of that matters anymore," Ruffalo said. "There’s this whole exciting place to go that is kind of unknown."
9. Scarlet Witch Brings Out The Worst In Bruce Banner… And Pretty Much Everyone ElseBeing one of the new recruits to the ensemble, Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch will be an interesting character to watch fit into the Avengers fold – particularly because it sounds like she is going to be screwing with her teammates’ heads to an extreme degree. "She’s able to bring out the worst in us," Ruffalo explained. "it’s like Sid and Nancy. She’s the Nancy. She’s everyone’s Nancy."
10. Ultron and Bruce Banner/Hulk share a good amount of screentime.Discussing his work with the various new members of the cast, Ruffalo revealed that he filmed a bunch of scenes with James Spader’s Ultron along with the rest of the group, but also had the chance to do "a couple of one-on-one things with him." The Avengers star said that he loved working with the veteran star, and claimed that his performance is basically Shakespearean. "It’s like King Lear," Ruffalo said of Spader’s work. "It’s great."
11. Mark Ruffalo is incredibly happy that he didn’t have to spend hours in a makeup chair during production.Talking about the intense makeup process that Paul Bettany was forced to go through while transforming into the first ever live-action version of Vision, Ruffalo laughed and noted that he is far too old to be doing that kind of stuff. "All I know is I’m happy that I walk in and I leave the trailer and I can go back an hour later and Paul Bettany’s still in make-up," Ruffalo said smiling.
12. Avengers Rule: When Indoors, The Hulk Isn’t AllowedWhenever Hulk is on screen, you get the sense that something is about to be completely destroyed, and that idea isn’t completely lost on the monster’s Avengers teammates. As a result, when the superheroes are having a nice party at Avengers Tower, it’s Bruce that’s invited and not his big green friend. "It’s like leave your shoes at the door," Ruffalo said. "Leave your Hulk at the door. Hulk still has a little bit of an ADHD kid thing going on."
13. The Hulk will have at least one line... Possibly more?While we were on set towards the middle of production this summer, at that time it still hadn’t been determined exactly how much or when Hulk would be speaking in the film. There will be at least one line – Ruffalo told us not to expect a soliloquy – but exactly when it will happen is a mystery.
14. Bruce Banner may be giving up his dream of ever curing himself of The HulkThe plotline that has constantly followed Bruce Banner around pop culture is that he’s a man constantly looking for a way to get rid of the Hulk, but Ruffalo suggested in our interview that this search may be coming to an end. He broached the idea of "radical acceptance," which would see Banner changing his mindset from How do I get rid of this thing? to How do I live with it?. "It’s like management, "Ruffalo said. "It’s like having a slipped disc."