This past weekend we got our first look [albeit through concept art] at the redesigned Hulk (played this time around by Mark Ruffalo) for Joss Whedon’s The Avengers. There haven’t been any major overhauls to the character. He’s still big, still green, still a messy mop of black hair, and still ripped. Well, not quite as ripped as before, explains producer and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. Feige says, “[Hulk will] be about the same size he was in The Incredible Hulk [which was about 9 feet tall] or maybe a little bit smaller. His muscles won’t be quite as cut. We figure he’s been the Hulk now for a few years and [his physique is changing]. He’s not as cut or as ripped as he was in The Incredible Hulk.” Feige gave no reason to why Hulk hasn’t been hitting the gym or why age would affect his physique, but maybe that will be explained in the movie.
Far more interesting is what Feige had to say about the redesign of Hulk’s facial features. Hit the jump for more details. The Avengers opens in 3D on May 4, 2012.
Unlike Ang Lee’s Hulk or Louis Leterrier’s The Incredible Hulk, in The Avengers, Hulk will resemble the actor who plays Bruce Banner. Back in February, Ruffalo talked about how he’ll be the first Hulk actor to really play both Bruce Banner and The Hulk:
“[It looks] just like me. We’re going out of our way. First of all, I’ll be playing it. I’ll be the first actor to actually do it in motion capture as the Hulk. And so all the features are mine — they’re just really big.”
Feige tells Hero Complex that originally the idea was to just have a one-sized-fits-all Hulk design and that the Hulk was akin to the Iron Man armor—the actor inside didn’t really matter as much. However, they’ve made the smart decision to really let an actor play the role:
But we’ve taken a different approach because Hulk is Banner and, frankly, we came to question our approach. Why are we not doing it this way? So we did a few designs that put Ruffalo into it, and we immediately saw how much more you feel for the creature. When you keep that connection going between Banner and the Hulk and you have characters around him trying to reach Banner inside — “Bruce, calm down,” and all of that classic Hulk stuff — it means more if you see the same actor throughout. I think before it was something we thought might look silly. We were nervous about getting it good enough [via visual effects] to work. Frankly, it was the same way we were nervous early on about making Steve Rogers skinny for “Captain America.” Is this going to look disturbing? Is this going to look silly? In the end, we got that one right. We’re going to get this one right.
If I squint I can kind of see Ruffalo in the Hulk concept art, but I’m eager to see how it will translate on screen. The technology is certainly at the point where digital animators can really blend Ruffalo’s features with the digital Hulk. The question is how well they’ll be able to transfer Ruffalo’s expressions onto the green giant’s mug.