Edward Norton And Mark Ruffalo Actually Joked About Hulk Even Before The She-Hulk Wink

Left, Edward Norton in The Incredible Hulk, Right, Mark Ruffalo in Avengers: Infinity War
(Image credit: Marvel)

Don’t get smashed by the She-Hulk spoilers ahead!

We’ve lived in a world where there are many — I might say too many — actors playing the same iconic superheroes. There are three different dudes playing Spider-Man (and that’s not counting animated movies) and what seems like an infinite number of actors who have taken on Batman. So, knowing Mark Ruffalo and Edward Norton as The Hulk honestly isn’t all that odd. 

It's fair to wonder if these actors communicate about playing the same roles throughout these movies. Turns out, Ruffalo and Norton have had some fun talking about their shared history as the big green monster long before the cheeky reference in the latest episode of She-Hulk: Attorney At Law, and Mark Ruffalo recently told Entertainment Weekly about their conversations. Said the actor,

I actually joked with Ed about this. I was like, 'It's like our generation's Hamlet. Everyone's going to get a shot at it.' And there'll probably be another couple before it's all over. People will be like, 'Remember when the Hulk used to look like Mark Ruffalo? Now it looks like Timothée Chalamet.

This all came to light after the second episode of She-Hulk was released. In the show, the Norton-to-Ruffalo Hulk handover was referenced in a cute way. Jen Walters a.k.a. She-Hulk calls her cousin to tell him she’s taking on a case regarding the Abomination, the villain of Edward Norton’s Hulk movie. While on the phone with her, Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk approves of her taking the case and says:

That fight was so many years ago, I'm a completely different person now — literally.

Jen then looks directly into the camera and laughs, giving a nice little confirmation to the audience that the show did indeed just reference the actor swap. So, unlike in the Spider-verse or the MCU’s multiverse, Edward Norton’s Hulk does not exist in a parallel universe. Bruce Banner simply changed looks from Norton to Mark Ruffalo. 

Both actors have had a good sense of humor about the funky casting situation. While Mark Ruffalo threw Timothée Chalamet’s name in the mix as a future Hulk, Edward Norton revealed that he thinks the best Banner will always be Bill Bixby, who played the big green guy in the 1978 television series. The stars have referenced Hulk as a version of Hamlet, where lots of actors can come into the role and give it their own spin. 

In the last year, Marvel has brought characters from different studios and franchises into the MCU fold. The Spider-Men (Mans?) uniting in Spider-Man: No Way Home was kind of a watershed moment that blew up the internet. Andrew Garfield, the Amazing Spider-Man, revealed he had quite a bit of fun trying to keep the surprise a secret and lying about his return to Marvel

In Spider-Man: No Way Home we also saw the return of Charlie Cox’s Daredevil, who had played the role in the Netflix show of the same name. Charlie Cox is going to be very involved with the MCU moving forward and is confirmed to be back as Matt Murdock in She-Hulk, but with a lighter tone than what we’re used to. Maybe Ben Affleck could reprise his 2003 version of the devil of Hell's Kitchen someday, continuing the multi-actor fun in the comic book movie franchise. 

Marvel’s She-Hulk will continue releasing episodes throughout the coming weeks on Disney+. I’m sure more surprises are in store and more theories will be invented. Speculation is already rampant around the internet about the Hulk’s last moment in She-Hulk and his future involvement in upcoming MCU projects

If we’ve learned anything from this it’s that Marvel’s casting choices will seemingly always find a way to make sense within the story – or at least make a hilarious joke out of it. 

Riley Utley
Weekend Editor

Riley Utley is the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She has written for national publications as well as daily and alt-weekly newspapers in Spokane, Washington, Syracuse, New York and Charleston, South Carolina. She graduated with her master’s degree in arts journalism and communications from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Since joining the CB team she has covered numerous TV shows and movies -- including her personal favorite shows Ted Lasso and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She also has followed and consistently written about everything from Taylor Swift to Fire Country, and she's enjoyed every second of it.