Right now, Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk remains the chief mystery of Joss Whedon’s The Avengers. And I’m not talking about what prompted an art-house veteran like Ruffalo to agree to a summer tentpole like Avengers. I’m talking about how much Bruce Banner factors into the finished product … and how much CGI Hulk we’ll get to see in Whedon’s ensemble effort.

Ruffalo didn’t make things any clearer when he opened up about Avengers to the WSJ’s SpeakEasy blog. In fact, he clouded the picture with a diversion, explaining the deeper meaning of Whedon’s overall story of teamwork and togetherness in the face of adversity.

“You have all these disparate egos, superheroes in this and that, and they refuse to give up some of their positions in order to make a more perfect union and to join the team,” Ruffalo said. “That’s really what the whole movie is about: subjugating your own best interest momentarily to further that of the whole.”

Yeah, but does he scream, “Hulk smash?” Because that would be cool.

Seriously, though, I like that Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth are trying to drag intelligent subtext into a superhero movie. When Ruffalo says he treats comic books as our “modern Mythology,” it suggests a level of respect that can only help The Avengers succeed. We haven’t seen a lot of Banner or Hulk in the Avengers trailers just yet. Maybe the effect is still be finalized? Maybe he has a small role? We’ll find out soon enough. The movie kicks off Summer 2012 on May 4.

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