Mark Ruffalo on Joining ‘She-Hulk’ and His Future With Marvel: ‘I’m Always Surprised That I’m Still Here’
Mark Ruffalo barely hesitated when Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige and co-president Louis D’Esposito asked him if he’d be willing to appear on the Disney+ series “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” as Bruce Banner and his giant green alter ego, Smart Hulk. “I was a little like, what’s the tone gonna be?” Ruffalo tells Variety. But after reading — and loving — the script from creator and head writer Jessica Gao, he was totally on board for Bruce, aka Smart Hulk, to hand the baton to his cousin Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany), aka She-Hulk. During his interview, Hulk’s future within the Marvel Cinematic Universe seemed to be weighing on Ruffalo’s mind. The 54-year-old has been playing the character since 2012’s “The Avengers,” when he took over the role after Edward Norton parted ways with Marvel Studios following 2008’s disappointing “The Incredible Hulk.” Since then, Hulk has fought alongside Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) — all of whom have since departed from the MCU. Ruffalo’s Banner, however, has thrived, tussling with Thor on the trash planet of Sakaar in 2017’s “Thor: Ragnarok,” melding his Banner and Hulk selves into Smart Hulk in 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame,” and welcoming Shang-Chi to the MCU circus in the post-credits scene of 2021’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” With “She-Hulk,” however, Ruffalo relished the chance to cut loose in one of his first productions after the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. He talked with Variety about working with Maslany on how to navigate the performance capture filmmaking process, what Smart Hulk’s appearance on what Smart Hulk’s appearance on the Sakaaran ship in Episode 2 could mean. What appealed to you about making “She-Hulk”? It was something that I’ve always sort of wondered: How does Hulk or Banner live their lives? I mean, if he is living on his own, like, how does he not hit his head on doorframes? It just opened up a whole world that’s really funny and playful that I was craving after COVID. It was light. It was playful with other people. It wasn’t in Zoom. It was like a desperation for me when I got to it, to have that kind of experience after being locked down and imprisoned, in a way.