The Hulk was one of my favorite superheroes growing up, and it was really a shame that neither big screen Hulk film got it right.
When good buzz began for The Avengers, word also had it that finally the Hulk was gonna be great on the big screen, which was good because how many more shots would he have if this one didn't cut it.
According to the L.A. Times, fans apparently weren't thrilled that Mark Ruffalo got cast in The Avengers, why I can't imagine, because he's a terrific actor. Eric Bana and Ed Norton are good too, but you had the feeling Mark could probably really nail it.
And as Ruffalo told the Times, "I remember there was a lot of negative response to me playing that part early on, and I kind of liked that challenge."
Avengers writer / director Joss Whedon was also pleased with Ruffalo's performance, saying, "I think he and [Captain America] kind of share that role as the Everyman who's lost in this kind of world, who are both very centered in who they are, but at the same time, very convinced that they're not going to be able to negotiate this modern situation."'
Ruffalo watched the Hulk series, starring the late, great Bill Bixby to prepare for the role, and Bixby absolutely brought a lot of pathos and sympathy to the part, taking the role much more seriously than a lot of actors would have back then. Ruffalo also liked the fact that Bixby's Hulk tried very hard to live a normal life considering what he had to deal with. And with the Hulk at this stage of the game, Ruffalo said, "He's an older Bruce Banner, and he's kind of coming to accept his fate."
Although the Hulk was always clearly his own man, maybe making him part of the Avengers ensemble was finally what made him a big screen success. I'm sure a lot of fans like myself are hoping they'll be more Hulk tales in the future, and if that's what it took to keep the character alive, hey, whatever works...