Despite the fact that Louis Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk was one of the very first entries into Marvel Studios' cinematic universe, the regular recasting of Bruce Banner means that Mark Ruffalo has yet to be given a chance to shine in his own standalone Hulk movie. Both the mild-mannered scientist and the big green guy had some great and memorable moments in The Avengers but with so many superheroes fighting for screen time, Bruce wasn't given too much in the way of a character arc.
Given the meager box office performance of the two most recent Hulk movies (neither of which grossed more than $265 million worldwide) it's safe to say that The Incredible Hulk 2 isn't high on Marvel's list of priorities, despite Lou Ferrigno's optimistic statements to the contrary. For the foreseeable future, at least, team-up movies are going to the Hulk's only time to shine.
Upcoming sequel The Avengers: Age of Ultron isn't exactly less busy than the first move when it comes to characters, especially since super-powered twins Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are going to be joining the fray. In an interview with Total Film, however, Ruffalo said that Bruce and his big green counterpart won't end up getting sidelined amid all the action.
"[My role's] even bigger than last time, and it's more complex and it has more layers and a bit more arc... I'm really tripping on the technology of this motion-capture stuff… now I just completely embrace it and see it as this other exciting place we can go as performers."
In order to ensure the most expressive angry faces possible in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ruffalo enlisted the help of mo-cap character expert Andy Serkis, who is currently also working on bringing animals to life in adaptations of The Jungle Book and Animal Farm. Even more exciting than the technology involved, however, is the promise that Bruce Banner will get more of a complex character arc in this sequel.
The first set photos from The Avengers: Age of Ultron emerged earlier this year, showing a set-up on the streets of Johannesburg with panicking extras and vehicular destruction. Several months later production is far from completed, but according to director Joss Whedon it's at least closer to the end than the start. In an update on his Twitter feed, Whedon announced, "Halfway through shooting! Think I'm holding up better than usual."
Filming this sequel has meant quite a bit of international travel for Whedon and the Avengers, since production has taken them to London, Johannesburg, Seoul and Aosta Valley in Italy. According to the most recent plot rumors, The Avengers: Age of Ultron will see the team trying to effectively take over from S.H.I.E.L.D. in the aftermath of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, with Tony Stark bankrolling new uniforms and an army of Iron Man drones for the purposes of international policing.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron is intended to be the first of Marvel's two 2015 summer releases, continuing this year's theme of having a sequel followed by a more risky new franchise. Let's hope that Marvel manages to find a new director for Ant-Man soon, or The Avengers: Age of Ultron could end up being the studio's only tentpole for next summer.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron is out in theaters on May 1st, 2015.
Source: Total Film, Joss Whedon