Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk has a small reference to Edward Norton’s version of the character in Thor: Ragnarok. After debuting in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, Norton was eventually replaced by Ruffalo as Bruce Banner and his alter-ego in 2012’s The Avengers directed by Joss Whedon. Since then, Ruffalo has reprised the role four more times – Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. But despite the actor switch, it appears that Marvel Studios still wants to preserve some kind of continuation for the green-rage monster.
Following his disappearance at the end of Age of Ultron, the Hulk emerged in Taika Waititi’s Ragnarok, living the gladiator life in Sakaar as the Grandmaster’s (Jeff Goldblum) unbeatable champion. That was until Thor roped him in to help defeat Hela and save the Asgardians. Ruffalo said that the threequel would start a three-film arc for Hulk, which led to Smart Hulk by the time the five-year time-jump in Endgame picked up. While the MCU barely acknowledges the events of The Incredible Hulk, as it turns out, a subtle detail in Hulk’s character design in Ragnarok proves that although the role was a recast, Ruffalo and Norton’s version of the character are essentially one and the same.
Spotted by Reddit user with the handle Zeophore is a tiny detail in the Hulk’s character design in Ragnarok which effectively links him to Norton’s iteration. During the final battle of the 2017 film, a tiny dented scar on the green-rage monster’s left chest can be seen, which is the same spot the character was pierced by Abomination during the climactic fight scene in The Incredible Hulk. Check out the source’s post below:
Over the years, Marvel Studios has barely taken into consideration the events of The Incredible Hulk. While there are references here and there, not to mention the emergence of Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt) in Captain America: Civil War and Endgame, they typically shy away from directly mentioning what went down in that 2008 film. Fans know that Norton’s exit from the franchise was quite controversial as both parties have differing recollection of what really went down behind-the-scenes. Nevertheless, Ruffalo and his predecessor have nothing but good things to say about each other.
This tiny detail in Thor: Ragnarok might just be the start of Marvel Studios’ plan to reincorporate some of the plot details in The Incredible Hulk. Aside from reports that Ross will continue to be part of the MCU with a supposed appearance in Black Widow, there are also speculations that Liv Tyler’s Betty Ross may return for the upcoming She-Hulk series on Disney+. No word yet regarding any of this from Kevin Feige and his team, but assuming that this will be the case, it’ll be interesting to see how the arc of Norton’s Hulk will meld with what’s been established with Ruffalo.
- Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
- Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Black Panther 2 (2022) release date: May 06, 2022
- Spider-Man: Homecoming 3 (2021) release date: Jul 16, 2021