(Warning - if you haven't yet seen Avengers: Age of Ultron, then the following will contain at least one major SPOILER. Though, if you've gotten all the way to September without this particular part being ruined, then there's a good chance you were either in space, or a particularly deep cave...)
Now, Mark Ruffalo may not be the Marvel Cinematic Universe's original Bruce 'the Hulk' Banner - with Edward Norton having preceded him in the role back in 2008's The Incredible Hulk - but he's fast become its definitive one. It is, as a result, pretty fundamentally difficult to imagine anyone else playing the role - much as a non-Robert Downey Jr. Iron Man seems utterly ridiculous. The Hulk, essentially, has already been ingrained into our collective cultural psyche as being very Ruffalo-ish indeed.
We Almost Saw a Completely Different Hulk in Avengers: Age of Ultron
Now, thankfully, there doesn't seem to have been even the slightest consideration given to not bringing back Mark Ruffalo, but that doesn't mean we didn't almost see a distinctly different Hulk.
Y'see, as ScreenRant's recent interview with Avengers: Age of Ultron VFX Supervisor Christopher Townsend revealed:
We Very Nearly Saw the Grey Hulk in Age of Ultron
As Townsend put it:
"What Joss wanted to do was he said, “I wanted to have a Hulk that’s this berserker Hulk.” Berserker Hulk was this Hulk that Hulks out, was what we had come up with on set. And then we sort of started talking about, “Well what are those extremes?” And ILM started playing with a deformed body with a deformed face with one eye larger than another. You know, like crooked teeth, and drooling, and red eyes, and all this kind of stuff."
"Then we started playing with color and we started to de-saturate him and give him sort of red around his eyes and made him look strung-out heroin addict Hulk was the idea. Sort of like where he has totally lost it and he’s gone totally crazy. And then we gradually tended towards a grayer and grayer version till effectively we got gray Hulk."
The only problem?
"We tried a few shots in the film with that sort of much grayer version. And then we’re thinking, “Will people confuse this with the gray Hulk from the comics? And is that a good thing or a bad thing?” Eventually, I think we backed off a little bit of that and made him greener so that…we didn’t want to confuse people in creating a new character, per se, in that way. So we ultimately backed off. But we had gone pretty extreme in the looks for him."
And so, instead of a Grey Hulk, we ended up seeing...a slightly greener Hulk. Which was awesome, sure, but perhaps not quite the comic-book referencing take a lot of fans were hoping for.
Though, that being said, since the comic-book Grey Hulk was most famously a version of Bruce who took on the persona of a Las Vegas enforcer named Joe Fixit, you can kind of see why Marvel may have been a little wary of going too far down the grey road...
Something for the future, though, perhaps?
What do you reckon, though?