Last summer we visited the set of Avengers: Infinity War and today we're beginning out set visit coverage by sharing our conversation with Chadwick Boseman and Mark Ruffalo, stars of the last two films released by Marvel Studios. We have many more to come but there's a reason we're starting here, on a day where Hulk and Black Panther meet for the first time on set.
The sequence we observed takes place approximately two-thirds into Infinity War and the Avengers led by Steve Rogers land a Quinjet in Wakanda to meet and warn T’Challa of potential danger and seek aid for Vision who's been severely hurt from their last battle. Cap (with his torn up, darker uniform and beard) leads the Avengers out of the Quinjet ramp toward T’Challa’s envoy (which includes a much more healthy Bucky Barnes). Beside Cap is Black Widow sporting an all-new look with short white-blonde hair, armor, and a dark green tunic of sorts. Behind them are Bruce Banner and Rhodey, Banner wearing his nicer casual clothes, purple dress shirt, and awkwardly tossing on a suit jacket as Rhodey - who wears an exoskeleton for his legs - pats him on shoulder (it’s Cheadle’s first day on set). Falcon is with them as well, same costume as in Civil War. Several Wakandan guards with spears walk past Rogers’ team as they’re exiting the ramp to assist Wanda and Vision, the latter clutching his sides. This whole moment is the first time Banner meets T'Challa but it's also the first time Rogers sees Bucky Barnes again.
After a scene-stealing and emotional introduction in Captain America: Civil War, Boseman's T'Challa got to lead the impressive ensemble cast in Black Panther, a film which continues to earn accolades from fans and critics while breaking box office records. For Ruffalo's Bruce Banner who sadly will not get his own solo movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he got a big role in the fall's Thor: Ragnarok, a film itself which revitalized the Thor sub-franchise and offered major change in the status quo of the MCU.
Together these two superheroes join the biggest roster of comic book characters ever assembled in a live-action feature film and both have an essential role to play. Keep in mind, that this group conversation too place just after Black Panther finished shooting and many months before Thor 3 and Black Panther opened in theaters.
What can each of you tell us about what your character has been doing since we will have last seen them?
Chadwick Boseman: My character just cut an album.
Boseman: He's been on tour... My character, obviously we just finished shooting the Black Panther movie and in that movie he's just trying to recover from his father dying, trying to restore order in Wakanda, and the rest of it you have to wait for...
We haven't seen Hulk since Avengers: Age of Ultron really at this point.
Mark Ruffalo: Yes... He went to another dimension for a little while and met up with his pal, good pal Thor, and they went on an intergalactic buddy trip, and then he came back. We were introduced to Thanos after doing a lot of fighting, and now he's been brought back together with the Avengers.
What's the reaction between your two characters meeting each other? How does The Hulk react to Black Panther and how does Black Panther react to him?
Chadwick Boseman: I have not had the opportunity to get to know him yet.
Mark Ruffalo: But I immediately see him and feel that he's royalty and feel that the respectful thing to do is bow down to him.
What's your dynamic been like with the rest of the Avengers? Obviously he's seen some shit over the multiverse and now he's back and he missed out on Civil War, what's that like getting back into the team again?
Mark Ruffalo: Once again I think he's trying to find his place in the line-up. He's having some difficulties integrating with the rest of the group, but he's also privy to some information that is essential for their survival.
Chadwick, we know that the tone of Black Panther is at odds with something like Guardians of the Galaxy's tone for instance - those two movies couldn't be more different in that way. What's it like for your character, as much as you can say, to get involved with Peter Quill and all those people?
Chadwick Boseman: You know, that is a good question. No, no, Seriously, because that is the difficulty in making a movie like this, you have to see the flavor of each one of them. So, I think what is good is that in this situation, you're seeing them in my world. They're in my world so it's interesting to have them enter our space, which is not something that happens all of the time. I think it's important for us to give the flavor of Wakanda, and they're really adjusting to our space, so that will be part of the fun of the movie. And the Guardians entering it... obviously there is a clash, all of that is conflict but it's not conflict between us necessarily, so, but it is an emotional, psychological, social conflict.
What can you say about the scene that you're shooting today? The Avengers are coming to Wakanda to talk to you and your people - what is that dynamic?
Chadwick Boseman: Are you asking why are they here?
Chadwick Boseman: I don't think we can tell you that necessarily.
[Unit publicist steps in to explain what we've been able to see and learn so far on set.]
Chadwick Boseman: Oh yes, okay.... You have a [worldwide] problem with Thanos, a problem that effects everyone in the world. So Wakanda is on the world stage and we're obviously advanced in a way where we can help with the situation so that is all that's happening here.
I have a question for both of you, what do your characters think of Thanos? What does Banner and Hulk think of Thanos and what does Black Panther think of Thanos?
Chadwick Boseman: You know, it's not... we don't have time really... there's not a long running personal conflict for us. There are other characters who have that. We're just dealing with the situation at hand and we know he is a threat to all of us, but in terms of, do I not like him because his style or something like that? I don't have an opportunity to do it.
Mark Ruffalo: Banner knows more about Thanos than probably anybody and he's really trying to impress on everybody how dangerous he is. It's a little bit of a Chicken Little (scenario). He comes in screaming bloody murder... He's seen what damage he can cause and how powerful he is and the entire group is in disarray so he's also getting caught up on what's happened here and is trying to get them to transcend their differences and impress upon them how much danger they're actually facing.
That sounds like a very good Banner reaction, does The Hulk feel any differently?
Mark Ruffalo: The Hulk is also mightily impressed by Thanos.
Chadwick, in Civil War you didn't really seem to have an alliance to either side, you had your own agenda. Have your principals since shifted in this movie?
Chadwick Boseman: Yes.
Chadwick Boseman: Yes, yes.
Also, I want to add to that, we talked about this on the Black Panther set visit, the social media hashtag #BlackPantherSoLit, is that something that is pervasive on this set or is it just something that has been on the Black Panther set?
Chadwick Boseman: I don't know how pervasive it is at all but it's definitely not... I don't think people know for sure that I am in the movie. I think you would be confirming that fact right now. So, yes, they are suspicious but they don't know. So it is not so lit.
In a lot of those stories with Thanos, especially Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity War, Hulk is at a place where is speaking in complete sentences. Is he doing that here?
Mark Ruffalo: Really little, little ones.
Is he still monosyllabic in this?
Chadwick Boseman: Are you speaking of the comic book?
Chadwick Boseman: Oh yes, yes, the comic book.
Mark Ruffalo: That's the comic book.
Chadwick Boseman: Yes, yes.
Mark Ruffalo: Uhm... Sorry, I just got hurt from Marvel... Uhm... So, we're starting to find a Hulk ... the division between Hulk and Banner is starting to blur a little bit and so you have a Hulk that can actually express himself without being angry. There are sentences, yes. We're getting into like a five-year-old.
How much of this whole being terrified of Thanos is carry over from Ragnarok versus happening in the beginning of this movie?
Ruffalo: So Ragnarok will be out by then... it starts in Ragnarok...
Speaking to the last time we saw Banner and Black Widow together they were at a very critical moment, I'm curious to how that might be explored in this film.
Ruffalo: In this film? They're star crossed lovers, so it'll be something they're dealing with for the rest of their living days I think. Whether it's requited or unrequited, I don't imagine that's gonna go away any time soon in one iteration or another.
What are some of the days like where you have the biggest amounts of cast on set and when there are so many characters? I don't know what you guys have shot so far but I'm sure there's stuff with even more characters than there are today.
Ruffalo: Way more.
[Unit Publicist: This is really the start of having the big amount of cast.]
Ruffalo: This is the first day we've had so many different people together. This is the biggest cast together.
Boseman: I can tell you what it feels like today... It's fun to see, especially because we have not had a lot of opportunities to work together and when you look at actors that you respect and revere and you see them doing their things it's not just about the characters but the cast members. It's fun to listen to people tell stories. It's a lot of pressure because if you have in another situation, I don't have time to joke when we are shooting Black Panther, it's serious all the time. But in this case you don't have all the weight on your shoulders, so you have more comfort. We're sharing the weight. Which is actually what's happening with the superheroes as well, because they could not deal with Thanos alone. I think there is a lot of comfort in having people who are so good around you.
As you're shooting this, Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther are not out yet, so without having seen the finished movie what is it like dealing with the characters knowing that the audience will have seen the finished movies when they see this Infinity War?
Boseman: For me it does not make a difference because once the movie is out I don't watch it anymore anyway so my perspective is only from being inside it, and we just finished so it's like I'm just carrying on the story.
Ruffalo: I'd say the same.
Mark, can you talk about your evolution in the Avengers films since the first one, from audience responses, and how they're treated as different projects?
Ruffalo: Oddly enough I joke with people that this is like doing a TV show where you shoot one episode every three years. There's a continuity to it and when we talked about it with Marvel or Kevin [Feige] we really do talk about it as the character's progression and where... I've been able to have a lot of say in where it goes and you're also dealing with a new script and a new world but the characters feel like they're making a journey, you know? And it does feel like one goes to the next and goes to the next. It feels like a long serial which is nice, I think.
Chadwick, from movie to movie we've seen a lot of characters that get new suits, new gadgets, etc. so what can you say about Black Panther's costume from this new movie. Do you have any vehicles or is there any alterations to your suit that we're going to see?
Boseman: You know... Yes, there are alterations to the suit. I lost a little weight so the altering... No I'm joking. There are alterations but I think it's more so, I cannot be specific about those things. From Black Panther you're going into the world of Wakanda, they're more technologically advanced than any other nation on the planet so you're seeing some gadgets and technology and the merger of those things with spiritually in that way that you didn't see in Civil War. But that is because you're coming into their space, so yes, the answer is yes, I'm not going to tell you what it is.
For both of you, where there any specific comic books that you read to help you prepare for this movie?
Ruffalo: This one we're like in new territory really.
Boseman: It's different in this one, I don't know how to explain it. It's just because we're in so many different places.
Ruffalo: And it's so different from the comic books. There's elements that are clearly the same but when you really start to get into the story everything changes. Planet Hulk was a big influence for Thor 3, and the idea, the inkling of World War Hulk starts to... I read (that) way before doing this and there's some interesting stuff in there but honestly nothing so far directly related to this.
You didn't read Infinity Gauntlet or any of those?
Ruffalo: Yeah, that is informative as well, but then again it just gets so... off of that topic that it starts to become a little confusing where you're like “Why isn't this in there? Why are we doing this?”
Boseman: It actually takes away from what is actually happening in front of you I think, in this case.
Is there a reason the two of you have been paired together for this interview, do you guys share a scene together in the movie that we should be asking about?
Boseman: No, I think it's just...
[Unit Publicist: I think it's fun to do ones that don't get to be together.]
Ruffalo: I'm a huge admirer of him.
Following up on that you mentioned how personally working with Mark is fun, and you're excited to be working with some of the actors you haven't work with before. But character-wise are there interactions that your characters get to have with people that they haven't met yet, that you're excited for?
Boseman: Yes, Yes.
Boseman: Yes, I think so. Again without being specific, because we can't get too into it.
Ruffalo: What generally ends up happening too is we find stuff as we're going along. This is the first time we're together so we have a whole giant sequence coming up where we could interact, you don't really know. A lot of the pages we're just getting the morning that we're shooting because it's so secretive too. Just today, Don Cheadle and I never really had any kind of a thing and all today all of a sudden there is something there.
Is there anyone you want your characters to get to interact with?
Ruffalo: I'd love to more stuff to with him (Boseman). I think it's really funny to have Banner and him together, I think that's really interesting.
Where do Tony and Bruce pick back up?
Ruffalo: Well coming out of Thor 3, Banner's had a life changing experience in Thor 3 that makes him much more expressive and not so internalized, you know? So it's not combative but they're not so in-sync as they were. Plus, Banner doesn't understand Civil War. He just doesn't get it.
Speaking to Tony and Banner, is this gonna be a movie that Science Bros. Fans will be stoked about? I know you're aware of this...
Ruffalo: Oh yeah, there's great Science Bros. stuff. There's good Science Bros. stuff. We're paired up again.
I was gonna ask about that, because previously these guys were the brains with Stark and Banner. But now with T'Challa and his family and the Wakandan people are so far beyond that in tech. How does that play out, that relationship? And how essential are Wakandans to defending Earth?
Boseman: You definitely see where some of the gap is... You see where the gap is and what some things we're able to do that they're not able to do and that one you will definitely find.
Ruffalo: There's no way to overcome what they're facing without in some way coming to terms with their differences and embracing their diversity. That's essentially a core value of the film and that together, only together, can they triumph.
What is the Dora Milaje's reaction to all these Avengers and maybe the Guardians if they meet them?
Boseman: About them coming into the country?
Yeah, just meeting them, what's their reaction there.
Boseman: You would have to ask one of them, but the initial entry of them into the country is definitely like “Are you sure about this? Are you sure you want to let them in?”
Ruffalo: There goes the neighborhood.
Boseman: There goes the neighborhood, that is a good way of saying it.
Later this week on Screen Rant we'll share our interviews (yes, multiple) with directors Anthony and Joe Russo!