If there's one talent Marvel Studios should be known for, it's their will to take risks when casting the stars that play their heroes on screen. Whether it be casting the then-washed up Robert Downey Jr. over Tom Cruise or Nicholas Cage to play Iron Man in the kick-off of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or deciding to go with a comedy actor in Paul Rudd to take on the role of Ant-Man, Marvel Studios has made some unpopular decisions that have ended up paying off big time.
Starring in a Marvel film has more recently become quite the coveted gig in Hollywood, though, and rumors and rumblings fly every day of who the next big star will be to join the MCU roster of heroes and villains. But what many people forget is that a lot of the biggest MCU names weren't nearly as big before their days with Marvel Studios.
For instance, Chris Evans was considered a down-and-out actor before his found his footing as Captain America, and Chris Pratt was just the chubby, funny guy on Parks & Recreation before he led the Guardians of the Galaxy as Star-Lord.
Another great example of this is actor Mark Ruffalo taking the place of Edward Norton as the MCU's Bruce Banner - a decision that you could say certainly "Ruffalo-ed" some feathers (sorry - I couldn't resist). Ruffalo has recently shared how that experience has been for him through the years, and how he's appreciated the time he's had with Marvel Studios.
In an interview from Variety, Mark Ruffalo spoke about his early days as an actor and specifically touched on the point in his career where he joined 2012's The Avengers as Bruce Banner / Hulk.
When asked if he ever pictured himself playing the Hulk on screen, Ruffalo responded:
"Never. We had this little theater and that was my dream come true. We were doing, like, 10 plays a year on Santa Monica Boulevard. I was bartending, but as shitty as the day could be, when I walked in the theater, I was in heaven. It’s when I met Sunrise [Ruffalo’s wife] and she was like, “I think you might be shooting a little bit low. I think you can probably expand what you think you’re capable of.”
Variety then asked Ruffalo if he ever "pinches himself on set" when he's playing the Hulk, as if he doesn't believe where he is. He simply replied, "Yeah," explaining that he believes he "shouldn't even be there."
"Yeah. Every time I’m whining like, 'God damn, how long are we waiting for the set up?' I’m like, 'Hey, Remember you’re not even supposed to be here.' Right. I just remember to be grateful because I still can’t believe it. I still keep thinking, 'They’re going to throw me out of the club. I never belonged here in the first place and they’re all going to find out.'"
WHAT THIS MEANS
Mark Ruffalo may have been a well-established actor prior to signing with Marvel Studios, already having starred in 30+ films in his career, but that clearly didn't mean anything to Ruffalo. And lots of fans agreed when the news broke that Ruffalo would be taking over as Banner, because his range of acting didn't seem to align at all with what Marvel Studios had to offer at that time.
Nevertheless, Mark Ruffalo went on to perfectly embody the dual-nature of Bruce Banner and the Hulk, and did even better when the two characters merged in Avengers: Endgame to become Smart Hulk.
It's funny to think about Ruffalo having the constant fear of being outed as a fraud, because Marvel Studios seems to have a very high opinion of his work, and even still meets with him so that he can pitch new ideas for the character.
This is just another prime example of how Marvel Studios fishes out the perfect guy for each role - a guy who's got the talent to take on the role, but also the guy who will appreciate it and put in the work to make sure he's bringing just as much to the table as everybody else.