She-Hulk: Attorney at Law finally addressed the Hulk-sized elephant in the room — that Bruce Banner aka the Hulk was played by a completely different person in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

For years, fans have debated whether the 2008 film The Incredible Hulk belongs in the MCU because it starred Edward Norton as the titular big, green scientist-turned-superhero, or if Mark Ruffalo in 2012’s The Avengers. Counts as the official debut of the Hulk.

The Incredible Hulk was a solid piece of evidence supporting the former argument, with William Hurt reprising his role as Thaddeus Ross in several MCU films, and now Tim Roth is back as Emil Blonsky aka The Abomination. Has arrived, appearing in the second episode of She-Hulk. : Attorney at law, that debate may finally be over.

But then the new Disney+ comedy went a step further to cement that film as MCU canon by directly calling out the fact that another actor portrayed the Hulk in a gloriously meta moment all those years ago. When Jane (Tatiana Maslany) is asked to step in as Blonsky’s attorney for her parole hearing, she initially says no because she thinks it would be a conflict of interest – after all, Blonsky has relented in the past.

I tried to kill my cousin Bruce. So she calls Bruce to get her advice, and he reveals that Blonsky actually sent her a really heartfelt letter (and haiku) a while back, so they both put that whole issue behind them. “That fight was so many years ago, I am a completely different person now — literally,” Bruce deadpans, as Jen breaks the fourth wall to laugh straight at the camera.

As was the case with She-Hulk: Attorney at Law’s revealing the story of how Captain America (Chris Evans) lost his virginity, Ruffalo likes that the show eventually acknowledges the Hulk’s complicated history in the MCU. doing. “I think it’s really funny. It’s just the reality that we’re dancing all too often, but it’s true,” he tells EW. “I actually joked with Ed about this.

I was like, ‘This is like the Hamlet of our generation. Everyone’s going to take a shot at this.’ And there’ll probably be another couple before it’s over. People will be like, ‘Remember when the Hulk looked like Mark Ruffalo? Now he looks like Timothée Chalamet.’ ,

Ruffalo doesn’t feel territorial at all about his superhero role, as he wants to see Bruce/Hulk grow instead of just keeping it for himself. “The good thing about this world is that it can be anything,” he says. “Five years from now it could turn into absolutely anything that’s relevant at the time. I almost see him going back to ‘Bersucker Hulk’ or ‘World War Hulk.’ It could go anywhere That’s the exciting part – I’ve played five different versions since the beginning, and it’s kept it interesting for me and I hope it will be interesting for other people as well.”

When Marvel first approached Ruffalo about reprising his role as Bruce/Hulk for this new series, he didn’t know if he was the anthropomorphic version or the “smart” one introduced in Avengers: Endgame. Hulk” personality. But he also didn’t really care – he was more interested in seeing where the series took the character on a deeper level.

“When he decided to do She-Hulk — which I thought was really cool and exciting and appropriate and timely — it was basically like, ‘We’d be interested in passing the baton to you,'” Ruffalo says. . “They gave me the premise that I already knew from the comics, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’d love to do that. And I feel like I’m moving the torch in a really weird way.”

It’s easy to work with Maslany to create the dynamic of Bruce and Jane’s cousins, as opposed to showing off Bruce’s goofier, more relaxed side. “Nobody has ever done anything like this and there’s a lot of physical comedy,” says Ruffalo. “It’s almost slapstick in some places, and from just being Tatiana to a partner, our chemistry together is something you never know you’re going to be with someone, but it really is. It clicks.” And it’s fun. I love her and she’s awesome.”

Maslany tells EW that finding that magical chemistry with Ruffalo was just “innate” and immediate. She adds, “It is a great pleasure to work with an actor where the dynamic on-camera feels like the dynamic off-camera.” “There’s such a security in us playing in all these different goofy areas we’re going through, and I never felt like he’d let me fall in my face.

He’s such an amazing visual companion, and even though he’s not going to be in my face, he’s going to have a good time.” Having played this character for 10 years, he’s really learning things about the character all the time and pulling it in and transforming it and letting it grow.”

A big factor that allowed Ruffalo to expand the character in new ways was simply the modern technology used to transform him and Maslany into the Hulk and She-Hulk.

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