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.