by Kelly O’Brien
Hollywood blockbuster The Avengers hit cinema screens nationwide last week. Apart from being a huge box office success, it has also gotten people talking about American actor Mark Ruffalo and his unique portrayal of Marvel character The Hulk.
When the cast of The Avengers was first announced, fans across the globe questioned how suited Ruffalo would be to the role originally played by Eric Bana in Hulk (2003) and Edward Norton in The Incredible Hulk (2008). Many were surprised at the change from Norton to Ruffalo, but if the critics are anything to go by, the move has clearly paid off.
Throughout The Avengers, Ruffalo brings something a little deeper to his character that neither Hulk film has managed. He is very much a common man and one that not only accepts what he is but is able to find a certain humour about his situation.
At the start of the movie, the audience is given a brief insight into the daily life of Bruce Banner as Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and her team track him down giving aid in Calcutta. Banner is quite obviously trying not only to hide from civilisation, but to somehow atone for his angry alter-ego The Hulk. We glean that he has spent his entire life trying to negate the rage inside of him and can, on some level, sympathise with him.
After being reluctantly won over, Banner accompanies Black Widow back to New York to meet the rest of the Avengers. It is here that he finds a kindred spirit in the form of Iron Man and fellow genius Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr). Banner and Stark share a lot of similar qualities and director/writer Joss Whedon deliberately compares and contrasts the two unlikely heroes. Stark does a lot to bring Banner to a place where he can embrace The Hulk and use it to his advantage. In some ways, Stark is who Banner wishes he could have been.
At various points, The Hulk is alluded to by other characters. To Banners wry amusement, the topic is skirted around continuously and is seen almost as a taboo subject to sensitive to be talked about. That is, of course, until Stark arrives on the scene asking where the big, green monster is. His brash and extrovert nature forces Banner not only to address his alter-ego, but to embrace it.
By the films finale, despite relatively minimal screen time, we realise that the true source of Banners power lies in self-acceptance. In the fight scene which follows, the final of the movie, The Hulk appears in all his raging glory and, in my opinion, steals the show.
Having signed a lucrative contract with Marvel, you can be sure that this isn’t the last we’ll be seeing from Mark Ruffalo. Having used The Avengers to step neatly and cleanly from the Hulking shadows cast by Banna and Norton, I, for one, cannot wait.