– by David Kozlowski

With all due respect to fans of Beta Ray Bill, casting the Hulk in Thor: Ragnarok might be the smartest move Marvel has made since loaning-out Tony Stark in Spider-Man: Homecoming (and that film became is top five at the 2017 box office). The Thor-Hulk dynamic established in The Avengers (2012) was one of the big the unexpected highlights of that film, but actor Mark Ruffalo’s personality was buried beneath the Hulk’s CG design, even though he was performing the underlying motion capture.

Ruffalo has played Bruce Banner/The Hulk in two Avengers films, but judging by the teasers and trailers for Thor: Ragnarok, we might finally be getting the definitive (and comic-book faithful) version of the Hulk. The obvious difference this time out: Hulk speaks and it’s 100 percent Ruffalo’s performance.

Related – Thor: Ragnarok Review: Thor’s Better Than Ever And Having A Ragnarokin’ Time

In an interview with CBR, Director Taika Waititi reveals that a smarter and verbose Hulk wasn’t always the plan. He relates that the idea was sparked through a collaboration with his cast:

“Yeah, that was really, just like with Chris [Hemsworth], just wanting make it more interesting for Mark [Ruffalo] to play that character. Because in the films he just said one or two words and just destroyed everything, and that was the version of Hulk I think that everybody knows.”

Waititi makes a great point. Hulk’s appearances in both Avengers films were very straightforward: make Banner angry, see Hulk smash stuff, wait for Banner to return. There’s not a lot of wiggle room in that depiction, so investing some character in this beloved character was needed — based on early reviews, media and fans alike are ecstatic with the choice.

Waititi explains what else we can expect from Hulk in Thor: Ragnarok:

“But this version — the smarter version — it’s just become so much more interesting and engaging. Because he’s been the Hulk for two years. He’s a hero on this planet and he’s had more time to just sit with himself and feel comfortable in his own skin. And now you can see Hulk sitting still and being kind of like a big silverback. There’s there’s this moment when he’s in the hot tub in his apartment – he just feels like General [Colonel] Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. He’s just sitting there, just contemplating things and you can feel him probably ruminating over all sorts of stuff inside his head. And that introspective, that very still version of Hulk, I think is way more fascinating than the guy that just destroys everything.”

Wow, so Hulk has been living-it-up on Sakaar for two years, and in that space of time spent as Hulk his personality emerged. Sounds as plausible as any other explanation. Let’s hope this new version of Hulk becomes MCU canon and we get to see the big guy interacting with characters like Captain America, Spider-Man, and Doctor Strange (for starters) in Avengers: Infinity War.

What are your expectations for Hulk in Thor: Ragnarok? Let us know in the comments down below!

Thor: Ragnarok hits theaters this on November 3, 2017.

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David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University's Film and Media Studies.