The Incredible Hulk may have been released just a few weeks after Iron Man in the summer of 2008, but it’s been largely swept under the rug by the Marvel Cinematic Universe ever since. In fact, the franchise’s second installment was ignored and cut off from the rest of the mythology entirely for eight years until William Hurt’s Thaddeus Ross made his return to the fold in Captain America: Civil War.
Tim Roth’s Emil Blonsky is set to feature in both Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and She-Hulk, so the door is slowly opening to embrace the movie as part of the MCU family. Yesterday’s episode of Marvel’s What If…? also revisited Louis Leterrier’s comic book blockbuster, with the notable caveat that Mark Ruffalo was reprising his role as Bruce Banner at the expense of Edward Norton.
The Incredible Hulk‘s leading man was dropped after just one outing as the gamma-radiated superhero, and Ruffalo has since gone on to make the role his own over the last decade. In a new interview, What If…? creator A.C. Bradley revealed that she joked about getting Norton back for the animated series if the MCU’s canonical Hulk wasn’t able to commit.
“It wasn’t much of a difference for me, I love all Marvel movies. I’ve seen The Incredible Hulk probably three or four times. I love the bottle chase sequence in the beginning. We wanted to make sure that with all three movies we pulled iconic moments that people would recognize. So for The Incredible Hulk, it was the Culver University fight scene. We wanted to use, if possible, the fight in Harlem. But the Culver one lends itself better to the story, so we went there. I did joke early on, ‘If we can’t get Ruffalo back are we going to ask Norton?’. And I was told that Mark Ruffalo already agreed to do the show. He’s a very lovely human being, and he was great. He came in, had fun, and you really can’t get a better Hulk than Mark Ruffalo.”
It’d certainly be in keeping with canon to have Norton voice his version of Bruce Banner when Marvel’s What If…? puts a new spin on scenes from The Incredible Hulk, but it would be safe to assume that the three-time Academy Award nominee hasn’t been in touch with Kevin Feige for a long time ,and the vast majority of fans embraced Ruffalo as their Bruce Banner from the second he first appeared in The Avengers.