Mark Ruffalo had what arguably may have been the toughest gig of all the core actors featured in The Avengers, having to takeover the role of Edward Norton and step into the shoes of a character with pre-existing story roots. He was both the new guy and the familiar guy and his take on the character of Bruce Banner stood out as a fan-favorite.
The reception was so positive in fact, that as The Avengers traveled down its path of success to becoming the third top-grossing film of all time, Marvel’s President of Consumer Products, Paul Glitter, began name-dropping a new Marvel Studios feature film (The Incredible Hulk 2) for 2015 that would support Guillermo del Toro's Hulk TV series.
Could this be the push the series needed to become a reality?
It was about a year and a half ago when we first heard the news that Marvel and ABC would be working together on several television projects, Hulk being the most high profile of the three (Jessica Jones and Cloak and Dagger being the other two), but development on the series has been slow. A year ago Guillermo del Toro had handed in an outline to ABC for the Hulk series but it seemed that unlike the original Bill Bixby The Incredible Hulk, the new one would depend on the character's performance and popularity with his film incarnation.
The Jessica Jones project was canned but Hulk continued to develop slowly as Guillermo del Toro worked away on his upcoming sci-fi epic, Pacific Rim. Earlier this year however, a complete screenplay for the series was submitted and now that The Avengers has become a worldwide phenomenon and solidified itself (and its characters) among mainstream pop culture, del Toro and Marvel are in a good position to bring Hulk back to the small screen.
In chatting with Collider, del Toro explains that they have a writer selected and they're just waiting for that person's schedule to clear and when it does they'll revise the script and go from there:
"I had one meeting with Marvel after Avengers and we had a very, very good chat. We have a writer that we want to bring on board, a very, very concrete name. I can’t reveal it, but we want to wait for that writer. It’s a writer who is otherwise engaged. So right now we are in a holding pattern until that writer becomes free. Then we’re going to do a new draft of the script."
Having Hulk on the small screen at the same time as Ruffalo's Hulk makes waves theatrically can be confusing/disappointing to those who want the series to gel with the shared cinematic universe, and it's the same problem DC Comics faces with the upcoming Arrow on the CW. In that case - and with Smallville - Warner Bros. will not allow the TV show to touch upon the poster boy character of Batman as to not compete against Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy, but audiences are smart enough to separate different takes on the character via different mediums.
It would be a fanboy's dream come true if somehow Ruffalo were to play the character on the Hulk TV series - especially if The Incredible Hulk 2 isn't in the cards for Marvel Studios. Ruffalo grew up loving Bill Bixby's Bruce Banner and used that as his inspiration for The Avengers. From what we heard from del Toro when he first became involved however, the show would follow Banner in his mid-twenties.
On the film side, Iron Man 3 releases May 3, 2013, Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014 and Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.