The last big Marvel movie of the year, Thor: Ragnarok, hits theaters this weekend. Much of the excitement leading up to this movie has been about the chance to see Mark Ruffalo's incredible Hulk join Thor on a cosmic road trip. Thor: Ragnarok marks Hulk's return to the spotlight following his absence since The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Director Taika Waititi recently spoke about the challenges of filming the character, and apparently the motion capture for Hulk is what can make things especially challenging for the actors, as they have to figure out exactly where to look while filming, and it's not each other's faces. He said:
It is hard. [Hemsworth] has to look above Mark's face to talk to him. And Mark has to look down at Chris' crotch to talk to him, for his eye-line. So it's really weird.
Taika Waititi's thoughts on filming motion capture echo the sentiments we have heard from other filmmakers and actors in the past. Naturally, Taika Waititi expressed this in his own lewd and humorous way. We've heard about the difficulty actors have working with green screen and interacting with something that isn't there and must be imagined, and since Hulk is even bigger than the average character, it's easy to see why this would be an issue in Thor: Ragnarok.
Performance-capture has evolved at a remarkable pace since it was first brought into the public consciousness in the Star Wars prequels and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Anyone can play anything and now performance-capture actors can be on-set with other actors instead of having to do everything in a special volume. However, there are still challenges. Taika Waititi brings up a great point about how the actors must interact with each other without really making eye contact. Similar to how it is hard in a candid circumstance to not look at a camera that is being pointed at you, these actors must talk to each other in an unnatural way that goes against normal human interaction.
Watching the interview with BUILD, you can see how Taika Waititi made a film that is being praised for its comedic sensibility. It seems that he was the right person to infuse a sense of fun and life into the Thor franchise and bring Hulk back into the MCU in a way that evolves the character. Fans have wanted to see Planet Hulk on the big screen for some time and cherry-picking elements from that story to elevate Thor: Ragnarok is a great way to give fans what they want in a way that makes sense. Hulk cannot currently have his own film for myriad reasons, so utilizing him in a supporting role to bolster other characters and their films is a great way to go and seems to suit Mark Ruffalo just fine.