Some fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have strong feelings about the superhero movies. So strong in fact that Mark Ruffalo, the actor who plays Bruce Banner a.k.a. Hulk, once left a movie theater after to avoid a potential run-in with a disgruntled fan.
Mark Ruffalo initially turned down a spot in ‘The Avengers’
After missing out on the opportunity to play Hulk in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk — the role went to Edward Norton — Ruffalo got another shot at playing the giant green superhero. Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer who directed The Avengers (2012), wanted Ruffalo for the role. So did Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man) who’d previously worked with the actor on Zodiac (2007).
However, Ruffalo wasn’t so sure he was the right actor for the role. Even though he’d starred in plenty of movies, he had yet to be part of a film with lots of special effects. For that reason, the actor tried to turn down the role of Hulk.
“I did try to talk them out of casting me,” Ruffalo told Variety in 2020. “I said, ‘I don’t know if I’m the right guy. I’ve never done anything like this.’ Between Joss and Robert, they were pretty convincing that I could do it.”
“I was scared. I was really scared,” he added. “I’m still scared. The technological aspect of it makes it really hard to work that way. I struggle with it all the time. But my motto is to make fear your friend. Just keep pushing yourself into those places where you feel scared or challenged.”
Ultimately, Ruffalo accepted the part and went on to play Hulk in multiple MCU movies.
He left an ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ screening because of a fan’s reaction
Discussing the Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) snap at the end of Avengers: Infinity War (2018) with Rotten Tomatoes, the movie’s co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo remembered Ruffalo leaving a theater because a fan was so shaken by the final scene.
“[Mark] Ruffalo was in a theater in New York, and he was in a cap and glasses, and he was there with his son and his son’s friends, and he said when it got to the end, literally people just sat in the audience for 10 minutes and a guy ripped his shirt off and started screaming, ‘Why?!’ at the screen,” Joe recalled.
“Mark turned around in the theater and he thought, ‘Alright, I gotta get out of here before someone hurts me,’ and he snuck out the side door. So we didn’t expect that level of emotional response to it,” he said.
“We anticipated the ending being complicated for people because it was complicated for ourselves, but no, we didn’t anticipate the depth of emotion that people would experience from that ending,” Anthony added.
Mark Ruffalo may someday play Hulk in a stand-alone Marvel movie
Whether or not Ruffalo will reprise his superhero role remains to be seen. Marvel Studios is currently forging ahead with more phases in the MCU but some fans are still wondering about the Avengers after 2019’s Avengers: Endgame.
As far as Hulk is concerned, Ruffalo says he may not be done playing the superhero on the big screen. The actor shared that he has his own idea for a stand-alone Hulk movie. Until that happens, MCU fans can stream Marvel movies on Disney+.
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