By the time the credits rolled on Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk was effectively AWOL. Piloting a SHIELD quinjet, the towering rage monster quietly slipped off the radar, leading many to speculate on his potential future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Could he shoot into space and fulfil that long-rumored Planet Hulk prophecy? Or perhaps buddy up with the eclectic bandits of the Guardians of the Galaxy?
It’s impossible to tell so soon after Joss Whedon’s blockbuster sequel roared into theaters, though Ruffalo has recently shed light on Bruce Banner’s, er, hulking alter-ego and why he won’t be in next year’s Captain America: Civil War.
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According to the actor, Marvel originally planned to squeeze the Hulk into Joe and Anthony Russo’s ensemble feature, though ultimately decided to cut the character and “the other guy” from the film because the studio wants to save him.
“The reason is too great to be revealed in this movie (Civil War),” Ruffalo explains BadTaste.it. “I was in the script but then they removed my character. They don’t want to reveal where is he and why. I don’t even know if Hulk will be back soon.”
Planet Hulk, then?! Not so fast. Marvel has stated repeatedly that Hulk’s bi-polar persona has been a difficult nut to crack, claiming that the green-skinned rage monster works better in an ensemble in lieu of a standalone feature. One need only take a brave look towards the previous two feature films that featured Hulk on his lonesome to gain a gist of the studio’s apprehension.
Even still, there’s renewed interest in the character thanks to scene-stealing turns in the Avengers films. Will Marvel stand up and take notice? Or is Ruffalo merely referring to a much bigger role in store for the studio’s two-part Infinity War? Time will tell.
Captain America: Civil War, meanwhile, opens on May 6, 2016.