‘Avengers: Infinity War’: Chadwick Boseman and Mark Ruffalo on The Avengers Coming to Wakanda
Last summer, I was invited alongside a group of journalists to visit the Atlanta, Georgia set of Avengers: Infinity War. You can read a more in-depth account about my experience on the set here, but suffice it to say that it was indeed epic. The amount of star power in this movie is mind-boggling, and over the next several weeks I’ll be publishing interviews with most of the cast as well as the screenwriters and directors. They couldn’t reveal much in the way of specifics, of course, but it was fun to just see their banter and interactions — which is really the crux of what the Avengers movies are all about.
So much has happened in the MCU since we visited Pinewood studios last summer, including the release of Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther. Both are integral pieces of the story we’ll be experiencing in Infinity War, though at the time of course we hadn’t seen either. So when we spoke to Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa) and Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner / The Hulk), we had a lot of questions about the connections between those movies and what they were currently filming for Avengers:
QUESTION: What can each of you tell us about what your characters have been doing since Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther?
BOSEMAN: (Jokingly) My character just cut an album. 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!
RUFFALO: [Hulk] 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?
BOSEMAN: I have not had the opportunity to get to know him yet.
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 has your dynamic been like with the rest of the Avengers? Obviously Hulk seen some stuff over the multiverse, and now he’s back and he missed out on the Civil War — what’s that like getting back into the team again?
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 Black Panther, the tone of that movie and the character overall is really at odds with a Guardians of the Galaxy 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?
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, but it is an emotional, psychological, and 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 …
BOSEMAN: You have a world problem with Thanos, a problem that effects everyone. 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 T’Challa think of Thanos?
BOSEMAN: 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 of his style or something like that? I don’t have the opportunity to do it.
RUFFALO: Banner knows probably more about Thanos than anybody, and he’s really trying to impress upon 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 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?
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 kinda had your own agenda. Have your principals since shifted in this movie?
BOSEMAN: Yes. Yes, yes.
In a lot of those comic stories with Thanos, like “Infinity Gauntlet” and “Infinity War,” Hulk is at a place where is speaking in complete sentences. Is he doing that here?
RUFFALO: Really little, little ones.
Is he still monosyllabic in this?
RUFFALO: 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.
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: 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, 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. 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 thing, it’s not just about the characters but the cast members. It’s fun to listen to people tell stories. 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.
Mark, can you talk about the evolution the Avengers films from the first one to Ultron, and how it feels going into this one now? Are they treated like different projects when you come around to them?
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 we really do talk about it as the character’s progression. 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. What can you say about Black Panther’s costume from this new movie? Do you have any vehicles, or are there any alterations to your suit that we’re going to see?
BOSEMAN: 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, [but] I’m not going to tell you what it is.
For both of you, were 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 are 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 … 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.
Character-wise are there interactions that you get to have that you’re excited for audiences to see?
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 character — or you’re hoping — you get to interact with?
RUFFALO: I’d love to more stuff to with him [points to 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 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 now 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. But now with T’Challa and his family and the Wakandan people 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, and what things we’re able to do that they’re not able to do.
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 — that together, only together, can they triumph.
What is the Dora Milaje’s reaction to all these Avengers, and maybe the Guardians, coming to Wakanda?
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.