When I first heard that Edward Norton would not be returning to the role of "The Hulk" in [The Avengers](movie:9040), I was crushed. I saw The Incredible Hulk at the ripe old age of 14 with no experience in the superhero movie field besides Sam Raimi's Spiderman trilogy, and I had zero (not low, just none) expectations for the film. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and the performances of the cast. I hadn't seen Iron Man yet but I still knew enough about him to have my first Marvel post-credit heart attack of excitement when RDJ appeared after the close. When the announcement came that Mark Ruffalo was to take up the mantle of the big green rage monster I decided to do some research. Despite my early feelings of doubt, I ended up discovering one of my favorite actors and a man truly worthy of the world's strongest hero.
Mark was born to Frank and Marie Ruffalo, a construction painter and hair stylist respectively. He and his 3 siblings grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin and Virginia Beach, Virginia. Mark moved to California after high school and balanced his time between classes and the Orpheus Theatre Company. This company is an equity-waiver foundation, which is typically a 99-or-less seat theater. Actors who perform at such theaters are not required to be part of a union, which makes them ideal for opportunities to be discovered by agents. As a co-founder of the enterprise, Ruffalo worked across the board as a writer, actor and director, as well as a set builder and light operator. After 9 years of small roles and bartending, Ruffalo met Kenneth Lonergan, who cast Mark in his play This Is Our Youth as well as the lead in his movie You Can Count On Me in 2000. Ruffalo appeared in The Last Castle one year later and XX/XY and Windtalkers in 2002...
...but took a break from acting after being diagnosed with acoustic neuroma, a brain tumor that can cause hearing loss, balance issues, and facial pain, among other symptoms. Thankfully the tumor was benign, and despite a short period of partial facial paralysis he quickly returned to the spotlight in 2003 as Detective Giovanni Malloy in In the Cut and pilot instructor Ted Stewart in View from the Top.
2004 was a very busy and successful year for Ruffalo. He appeared in Collateral alongside Tom Cruise, portrayed Jennifer Garner's love interest Matt Flamhaff in 13 Going on 30, and starred as Jack Linden in We Don't Live Here Anymore. His role as Lacuna brain technician Stan in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind...
...along with his other films of that year boosted his popularity significantly and solidified his career. He went on to star as architect David Abbot in Just Like Heaven in 2005, played the role of Adam Stanton in the 2006 thriller All the King's Men, and in 2007 portrayed Inspector David Toschi in mystery-drama Zodiac...
...and played the part of Dwight Arno in Reservation Road. In 2008 he appeared in The Brothers Bloom as one half of a legendary con artist team, as well as two dramas, and in 2009 he had a small role as The Boyfriend in Where the Wild Things Are. In 2010 Ruffalo appeared in Shutter Island as U.S. Marshall Chuck Ale and in The Kids Are All Right as sperm donor Paul...
...and directed indie film Sympathy for Delicious. His work on Sympathy for Delicious won him the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and his performance in The Kids Are All Right earned him nominations for Best Supporting Actor in multiple organizations, including the Screen Actors Guild and the Academy Awards. After appearing in a small role in Date Night and starring in another production of Kenneth Lonergan's, he received a role that would catapult him to movie screens all over the world.
A Hero Is Made
Ruffalo made his MCU debut as Dr. Bruce Banner in The Avengers. His portrayal of the scientist did what Norton and Bana before him could not: he brought real life and an approachable complexity to Banner and the Hulk.
Ruffalo's performance was wildly successful and has sparked theories of whether or not Marvel might make another attempt at a Hulk movie, but so far we'll have to be content with Ruffalo smashing his way through enemies alongside the Avengers. Notably his interaction with Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark in The Avengers as well as in a post credit scene for [Iron Man 3](movie:24391) was delightful, and highlighted Banner's abilities as a scientist alongside his destructive alter ego.
Since The Avengers was released Ruffalo has performed in comedy/dramas Thanks for Sharing and Begin Again and starred in 2013's crime thriller Now You See Me. Now You See Me 2 has officially been confirmed and he will reprise his role as Dylan Rhodes. He will appear in Foxcatcher, a biography of Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz, on November 14 of this year. Ruffalo will reprise his role as The Hulk in [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](movie:293035), and thanks to the movie's teaser trailer we now know we will get to see Hulk go up against Iron Man's Hulkbuster armor. Avengers: Age of Ultron will premier on May 1, 2015
What's your favorite Mark Ruffalo movie? Are there any movies of his that you are interested in seeing or want to recommend to your fellow moviegoers? Do you think you can last all the way until May for the next Avengers movie? Sound off in the comments, and thanks for reading!