Rumor Confirmed: How Robert Downey Jr. Helped Mark Ruffalo Decide To Be An Avenger

Bruce Banner stands next to a cross-armed Robert Downey Jr. in 'The Avengers'

Sometimes, life really does imitate art. At least, that’s the case where the MCU is concerned. Fans of the Avengers know that Robert Downey Jr. has played a huge role in the franchise, but Mark Ruffalo recently confirmed what some of us have long suspected: the man behind Tony Stark played a pivotal role in convincing him to play the Hulk.

Mark Ruffalo first appeared as Bruce Banner in 2012’s The Avengers. Prior to that, he was well known to cinephiles, thanks to his work in movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Kids Are All Right, and Zodiac, which he co-starred in with Robert Downey Jr.. Still, there’s a huge difference between appearing in smaller films and signing on to appear in what would become the highest-grossing film franchise of all time. Mark Ruffalo revealed that he definitely felt some hesitation about living that blockbuster life -- but he got a solid push from Iron Man himself:

I was scared. I didn't know what I could add to what I already thought had been done so well before me. I'd only been doing indie movies up 'til that point. So I was like, 'I don't know if I'm the right person for this.' And Joss Whedon's like, 'Yeah, you are the right person.' And then I got a call from Downey, it must've made it to him that I was hemming and hawing, and he just simply said, 'Ruffalo, let's go. We got this,' in true Iron Man fashion. And then after that, I was like, 'I guess I have to do it.'

Look, if Robert Downey Jr. calls upon you to do something, you’re probably gonna do it, right? Mark Ruffalo mentioned on The Tonight Show that it took a little more convincing to get him fully on board - but not that much more:

I made a promise when I was a young actor that I would never do another movie without reading a script beforehand, because it's a recipe for disaster. And so I was like, 'I need to read something,' and the studio was like, 'We're sorry, we don't give anything out.' And Joss was like, 'Here man, here's like 20 pages of what I have written of Banner,' and I read that first scene of when Scarlett [Johansson], when Black Widow finds Banner in India, and I was like, 'OK, I love this. This is amazing.'

Obviously, Mark Ruffalo made the right call in heeding RDJ’s request. He’s since appeared in six other Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, including last year’s ridiculously successful Avengers: Endgame. It also sounds like he may not be quite ready to say goodbye to Bruce Banner, yet, either, even though Robert Downey Jr. has (seemingly) moved on.

On a scale of 1 to 3000, how glad are you that Mark Ruffalo listened to Robert Downey Jr.? Let us know in the comments.

Katherine Webb