At the end of Avengers: Endgame, the original six-member Avengers team was in pieces. Tony Stark and Natasha Romanoff were dead, Steve Rogers had retired to a parallel timeline, Clint Barton went home to his family and Thor took off for space with the Guardians of the Galaxy.
That left Bruce Banner/the Hulk, now fused into Professor Hulk or Smart Hulk or whatever fans have taken to calling him, nursing an arm fried to a crisp by the Infinity Stones but otherwise alive and well and, presumably, helping whatever configuration Earth’s Mightiest Heroes might end up taking.
Mark Ruffalo, who has portrayed Banner/Hulk since The Avengers in 2012, has appeared in five MCU movies (not including a brief cameo at the end of Iron Man 3): all four Avengers outings plus Thor: Ragnarok. While he doesn’t exactly know what plans Marvel chief creative officer Kevin Feige and his team have in store for the big guy, Ruffalo told us while promoting his new film Dark Waters that he’s up for more adventures as the world’s biggest, tallest and greenest scientific genius.
“I think there’s more storytelling still left with that character, especially with (Professor Hulk) now,” Ruffalo says when we get him on the phone. “I kind of was assuming that it was going to come to an end, but possibly not. I’m going to go and have another meeting with Kevin Feige and see if there’s anything left to do or say for those two characters in the future. I’d be into it.”
Complicated rights issues may still prevent the Hulk from starring in a film of his own — 2008’s The Incredible Hulk was an MCU film but produced through Universal Pictures, which holds the rights to Hulk solo pictures. However, assuming there isn’t another Avengers sequel for a while, Banner could show up as a guest start in another superhero’s movie, as he did to great acclaim in Thor: Ragnarok.
Asked who he’d like to see the Hulk team up with, Ruffalo responds, “Some of the newer people,” adding, “I’d love to see him find his way into Guardians of the Galaxy, that feels like a good place for him too. Even Black Panther. Maybe the She-Hulk. Yeah, I think there’s a lot of cool places for him to go as like the wise one, as the guru. I think there’s room for it, and we’ll see. We’ll see what happens.”
A seasoned Professor Hulk might be a perfect mentor for any number of upcoming Marvel heroes, with the upcoming Disney+ series She-Hulk seeming like a particularly obvious choice. But if Marvel is good at one thing, it’s surprising us — so you never know where the big guy might smash his way into. We hope that at least part of the MCU’s future is green.
Watch for more with Mark Ruffalo in the weeks ahead, as we speak with him about his tension-filled new legal thriller, Dark Waters, out this Friday (November 22).
Don Kaye is a Los Angeles-based entertainment journalist and associate editor of Den of Geek. Other current and past outlets include Syfy, United Stations Radio Networks, Fandango, MSN, RollingStone.com and many more. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @donkaye