Even after nine years and sixteen movies (seventeen, with this weekend’s ‘Thor: Ragnarok’) Marvel Studios still knows how to throw their fans a curveball. Indeed, there have been a few of those in the trailers for ‘Thor: Ragnarok’, but the one that perhaps stands how the most is the reveal of the film’s unusually verbose take on the Hulk.
In the comics, of course, Hulk’s characterization has over the years ranged from “Banner’s mind in control of Hulk’s body” to the more simple-minded, anger prone version that has so permeated pop culture. Which is to say that this sort of switch-up is far from unprecedented. But why here? And why now? Well, with mere days to go before the film’s theatrical release, director Taika Waititi offered some insights into the change in the Jade Giant’s persona:
Yeah, that was really, just like with Chris, just wanting to make it more interesting for Mark to play that character because in the films he just said one or two words and just destroyed everything, and that was the version of Hulk I think that everybody knows. But this version – the smarter version – it’s just become so much more interesting and engaging because he’s been the Hulk for two years. He’s a hero on this planet and he’s had more time to just sit with himself and feel comfortable in his own skin.
And not you can see Hulk sitting still and being kind of like a big silverback. There’s this moment when he’s in the hot tub in his apartment – he just feels like Colonel Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’. He’s just sitting there, just contemplating things and you can feel him probably ruminating over all sorts of stuff inside his head. And that introspective, that very still version of Hulk, I think is way more fascinating than the guy that just destroys everything.
Suffice it to say the most interesting part of all this might be the implications for future Marvel films. Despite Mark Ruffalo’s version of the Hulk being, arguably, the breakout character of ‘The Avengers’, a second solo film (after Ed Norton’s 2008 outing, ‘The Incredible Hulk’) hasn’t exactly been forthcoming. This has been attributed to everything from the vagaries of Marvel’s longterm plans to the corporate politics at play between Disney and Universal. But whatever the case, a more verbose Hulk makes it an easier (or at least more interesting) prospect to feature the character more prominently than he has since ‘The Avengers’, whether that is in supporting roles in other characters’ movies or an eventual standalone feature of his own.
The latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is due to arrive in theaters on November 3, 2017. The film stars Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Mark Ruffalo, Jeff Goldblum, and Tessa Thompson.