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Mark Ruffalo can't believe he is in 'Avengers: Infinity War,' thought he would have been recast as the Hulk by now

'I am just completely in shock that I keep getting asked back and that people still want to see it.'
Mark Ruffalo talks Avengers: Infinity War
[Image: Marvel Studios]

It’s easy to dismiss and overlook just how astounding the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been.

While most other origin stories immediately stumble and every new "Star Wars" and DC release proves to be divisive, all 18 Marvel films have found an audience and enhanced the seemingly unstoppable Cinematic Universe.  

OK, 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk “was the only blip. But a huge positive even emerged from that misstep, as Marvel made the wise and prescient decision to replace Ed Norton with Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, who quickly became a huge fan favorite. 

I recently had the chance to talk to Ruffalo about the Hulk, “Avengers: Infinity War” and the impact that Marvel has had on his own career, and here's what he had to say.

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So, ‘Avengers: Infinity War.’ Does this feel like a milestone event?
It definitely feels like a milestone event. A milestone cinematic event. An historical milestone cinematic event. 

How many superlatives can you get in?
I am pretty much done. 

Milestone says all you need to say. Did you think the Marvel Cinematic Universe would get to this level when you joined?
Honestly I was like, ‘OK, they’ll have me for this. But that will be it. They’ll end up recasting it like they like to do so much.’ I am just completely in shock that I keep getting asked back and that people still want to see it. 

What did working with Marvel do to your career away from the franchise?
We have to be honest with that kind of question. Because what is the system that we are working under? It is totally dictated by box office. You could be a great actor, but if your movie doesn’t make money they don’t ask you back. My agent was telling me the other day, ‘You are in 4 of the top 10 highest grossing box office movies in history.’ Which is crazy. Because I have had homeless anxiety for most of my life. So they give you a chance to do things in a system that generally really rewards that monetary success.

Are you working on anything now that you think wouldn’t have happened without Marvel?
It is hard to say. I think it just makes anything that I am attached to more appealing. Not just because of the money. But also because of the exposure. The name value. I am lucky because I had already kind of established myself in the indie world. And the character driven world before I came here. So I have been allowed to go back into those spaces. If I had not opened up those spaces, it might have been harder for me to go back to them. People might not want me there. There’s a branding issue that can be problematic for young actors. 

These films are loved, they haven’t ruined your credibility at all.
The times have changed. Whatever people thought was credible 10 or 15 years ago is completely out of the window now. 

Does that excite you?
Well, they say all suffering is the refusal to accept the reality just as it is and so I accept that reality just as it is, so I don’t suffer from it. 

Then there are some people that want to get involved in a fight with Netflix and can’t accept it. 
It’s like when we went from film to digital. People really dug in, and it was really threatening to people. Now, the next big thing will be, ‘Spielberg decides to shoot his next movie on film. Woah!’ But everyone has now moved on. The world is changing. It is probably changing faster than it ever has. Some of it sucks, and some of it is probably not so great for everyone. But this is the nature of the time we are living in. 

Make sure to check back in over the next few days as Ruffalo gives us his thoughts on the Hulk’s role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, reveals whether he prefers playing the Hulk or Bruce Banner, and talks the success of "Black Panther."

Oh yeah, also, "Avengers: Infinity War" is released on April 27.