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While The Hulk has a human-shape outline, and a human alter-ego (Dr. Bruce Banner), the reality is that The Hulk isn't human. He is structurally and muscularly bigger than any person could ever hope to be, and as a result he jumps, fights and generally moves in a unique way. It's for this reason that Mark Ruffalo taking on the complete motion-capture performance as The Hulk in the upcoming The Avengers: Age of Ultron was a serious challenge - but, fortunately, he had the greatest teachers in the world. As we've previously reported, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes star Andy Serkis has both a motion-capture consultant credit and even a role in Marvel Studios' first 2015 blockbuster - and now he's outlined exactly what he was up to behind the scenes.
Serkis briefly touched on his role in Avengers 2 late last month, but in a new interview with The Daily Beast he has gone into full detail regarding the work that he and his team at the performance capture studio Imaginarium did with Mark Ruffalo for the next big screen appearance of the Hulk. To start, one big thing that Serkis' company provided was a certain environment that is pro-active towards a motion-capture actor's work. Rather than just having Ruffalo strap on some grey spandex and jump into a scene with the fully-costumed Captain America and Hulk, the approach was changed. Said Serkis,
"It’s about giving the actor the right atmosphere and credibility for the performance, which we did in a number of ways. We had to educate the director that the actor owns the role, and what you get on the set is what you should be aiming to put into your cut as the final performance—with the rendering coming later on."
One of the benefits of Imaginarium's presence was that it allowed Ruffalo to fully see himself as The Hulk early in the process as a means of getting him to understand exactly how Hulk should move. As Ruffalo worked out his moments, they were able to make changes and adapt. Part of this was actually adding weights to Ruffalo's arms and legs to simulate that the character is carrying around an incredible amount of muscle weight. As Serkis explained, it didn't stop there.
"We equipped him. We also gave him a sound system and pitch-modulated his voice so you could hear the enormous Hulk roar coming out of these speakers, so the crew would go, 'Jesus! That’s Hulk on set!' It gives Mark the sense of feeling better, and if he feels better, then he’ll be more comfortable in the performance."
The performance capture maestro also added a few new details about his own actual role in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. While he couldn't say exactly who he would be playing, he did deny that he did motion capture work for Thanos (which Josh Brolin is doing the voice for), and added that he was beyond excited to be involved.
I’d have to deny [that Thanos story] at this point. But I am playing a character. I was really thrilled that Joss Whedon asked me to be involved. It’s fantastic. I’ve had a ball working with them, both as performance capture consultant through the Imaginarium, but also being asked to be in it. But I can’t say anything more!
Perhaps an answer will be given to us next week at San Diego Comic-Con? Hard to say at this point.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron will be in theaters May 1, 2015.