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The Hulk has had two shots at the big screen so far, and while both films have their fans, neither is exactly beloved. By the time Mark Ruffalo suited up to play Bruce Banner in The Avengers, fans had already become divided on the issue of who the Hulk and his human alter ego really are. That paradox is among many issues why the hero hasn't popped up in his own movie recently, with the 46 year-old Mark Ruffalo not exactly being the sort of actor on which a big budget blockbuster can depend (which is also where ensemble rumors come from).
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Ruffalo was surprisingly quite forthcoming on the issues the character presents in terms of being the center of a feature film, noting that his Hulk would be considerably more introspective.
"I think that’s the ticket forward for Banner, to start to figure out where we go with him, to keep that story interesting. I think there’s a whole relationship with Banner and Hulk that needs to be discovered. There’s a very cool thing happening: Hulk is as afraid of Banner as Banner is afraid of Hulk.... I’ve been mulling this over now for a few years. And I haven’t pushed for it because I honestly didn’t know what hadn’t been done. And this time, there’s an interesting confrontation on the horizon between these two... It’s existence. They’re fighting over existence, you know?
It's interesting that both Hulk and The Incredible Hulk have taken on the personalities of their leading men. Like Eric Bana, who made his big American leading man debut in the first Hulk, the Ang Lee film seems a bit shy, introverted, unsure of itself, and a little odd. And Louis Letterier's The Incredible Hulk took on the characteristics of Edward Norton, a film with a bit of brain and a love for the source material, but one entirely overcompensating for its shortcomings.
Befitting Ruffalo's indie background, his vision for the character sounds less likely to sell tickets than the earlier efforts. A thinking man's executive would note that it also would be a lot cheaper than the previous entries, and therefore more certain to earn a profit. Of course, Ruffalo also seems to understand the fact that people generally expect the Hulk to smash his enemies with his fists, and not just battle self-doubt and uncertainty. Which is understandable – a psychodrama seems best suited for television, where the Hulk was in previous incarnations, and where he thrived being portrayed by Bill Bixby and Lou Ferigno. But 3D tentpole blockbusters can generally only be one thing: 3D tentpole blockbusters. Ruffalo's thinking outside the box, certainly, but with the knowledge that an introspective Hulk movie would stand apart a bit too much from Marvel's other films. Expectations of fist-on-beast violence, as only the Hulk can provide, also must accommodate Marvel's traditional approach of effects-heavy, humor-tinged adventures with nods towards a larger universe.