‘She-Hulk’ Could Give Hulk Exactly the Kind of Story Mark Ruffalo Has Been Waiting for
She-Hulk might be able to serve two Hulks in one show.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is in a state of flux right now. Following the cosmic-level epicness of Avengers: Endgame, the MCU is resetting the board for whatever Avengers-level threat may arise next. Likewise, senior Avengers are seemingly graduating into mentor roles for the next generation. But one big, green unanswered question remains: the Hulk.
Mark Ruffalo — who has played Bruce Banner and his alter-ego since The Avengers — is reportedly in talks for a role in She-Hulk. But the actor hopes to take Hulk to a more personal space. As Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark so memorably asked once, “Is it too much to ask for both?”
Hulk’s future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is unclear
Ruffalo has conceded talks are ongoing regarding his role on She-Hulk. But it remains unclear whether he will indeed appear on the Disney+ series at all. Even if he does, we have no clue right now if he would make a guest appearance or have a substantive supporting role. And Avengers: Endgame doesn’t offer many clues as to the next step of Banner’s journey.
His big moment in that film was snapping half the universe back into existence, an act that severely injured his right arm. With Banner and Hulk combined into the new “Smart Hulk,” his intellect will certainly be an asset to the MCU’s future. But he’s definitely not in fighting shape right now, which makes an immediate return to battle unlikely.
Ruffalo himself, in a new interview with Variety, confirmed he has no idea what comes next for his character, aside from that possible She-Hulk role.
“There’s nothing completely at a place where it’s a done deal,” the actor said. “There’s some talk of having Banner/Hulk show up in She–Hulk. If we come up with something good, that would be really interesting. Right now, that’s about it. That’s all there is on the table.”
Ironically, Banner is the character the MCU has leveraged the least so far. Aside from 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, the character — there played by Edward Norton — hasn’t received a solo adventure. Given Universal reportedly still has distribution rights to a potential sequel, Marvel has instead made Hulk an ensemble player.
Mark Ruffalo really wants to dig into Bruce Banner’s personal life
For Ruffalo, the actor has been itching for the chance to dig deeper into Hulk. After all, the character has a long, rich history in the comics. And even the 2008 movie left a clear setup for a sequel pitting him against Samuel Sterns aka The Leader (Tim Blake Nelson). So far, the only element of that film the MCU has carried forward is William Hurt’s General Thaddeus Ross.
Although Ruffalo doesn’t comment about the plot specifics of his dream Hulk film, he does speak directly to how it would let him show another side of the character. And in many ways, it sounds like what Black Widow will do for Scarlett Johansson’s superspy. After so many appearances as a team player, perhaps it is time for “Big Green” to take the spotlight again.
“There’s an idea that I think could be really interesting,” Ruffalo told Variety. “We’ve never really followed him into his life. He’s always kind of off on the side. He’s like [Hamlet‘s] Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of the Avengers. It’d be interesting to fill in all the blanks about what happened to him in between all these movies.”
‘She-Hulk’ could also serve as a standalone Bruce Banner story
We wouldn’t go so far as to compare Hulk to those two side characters in Hamlet. After all, Banner is an instrumental figure whenever he does appear. But Ruffalo’s point stands. Alas, it doesn’t look like Marvel Studios has any intention of making another Hulk movie anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean Ruffalo couldn’t still get his wish in the form of She-Hulk.
Jennifer Walters, the main character of that show, is Banner’s cousin. And that simple fact alone positions the Disney+ series as the first glimpse into his family life. If Ruffalo does show up on She-Hulk, he will likely mentor and perhaps team up with his newly hulked out cousin. While she may be the focus, the series could flesh out Banner’s story at the same time.
By all accounts, She-Hulk could even be the last we see of Banner. The show is rumored to open the doors to more of the Hulk mythos, including the villainous Red Hulk. This could involve flashbacks into Banner’s life both before and between the movies, as viewers discover exactly the broader picture of his life outside the Avengers.
Just as Black Widow is addressing more about Natasha Romanoff’s past, She-Hulk could be the key to unlocking everything fans have been wondering about Ruffalo’s character over the past decade. She-Hulk could even bring back Liv Tyler’s Betty Ross, Tim Roth’s Abomination, or The Leader — as a major foe — in a big way. Here’s hoping we learn more soon.