Lou Ferrigno, who portrayed the green-skinned alter-ego of Dr. David Banner (Bill Bixby) in 1978 television series The Incredible Hulk, admits he doesn’t take Marvel Cinematic Universe star Mark Ruffalo seriously in his portrayal of Bruce Banner and the Hulk.
“Mark is a wonderful actor. But we’ve had three different actors — we’ve had Eric Bana, Edward Norton and Mark Ruffalo. I like Bill Bixby the best, I like Edward Norton. But Ruffalo — I think he’s a wonderful actor, he blends in with the Marvel aspect of the Avengers — but I can’t take him seriously enough,” Ferrigno said at Montreal Comiccon.
“Bill has that intensity, and you knew that when he was in danger, you could feel that intensity. But because of Marvel and Disney, they’ve taken a different direction. You can’t take it as seriously as the original series.”
That intensity is “why people just loved it so much,” Ferrigno added of the CBS-aired series that ran for 80 episodes across five seasons.
“I’ve got so many fans come up to me, they tell me when they were young, they were fighting to watch it. They’d get behind the couch, but when they see me as the Hulk — they want to see the Hulk because of that attraction, because it’s a build-up, the adrenaline, that’s what makes the show.”
Ruffalo inherited the role from Norton, star and uncredited screenwriter of Marvel Studios’ 2008 The Incredible Hulk, an MCU-set reboot of 2003’s Bana-led Hulk.
Norton famously clashed with Marvel Studios and Ruffalo was picked as replacement for 2012’s The Avengers, reprising the role in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War and this year’s Avengers: Endgame.
Ruffalo’s most recent turn as the character in Endgame saw the genius of Banner merged with the might of the Hulk, creating an amalgamation of the two referred to by the filmmakers as “Smart Hulk.”
Borrowed from Marvel Comics lore, where the molding of the two personalities is known as “Professor Hulk,” Ferrigno’s Hulk would have undergone a similar process in scrapped TV movie sequel Revenge of the Incredible Hulk.
“Before Bill died, we did the death of the Hulk — we were planning to, [in] the next movie of the week, they find David Banner, they bring him back to life, but this time as the Hulk, I have David Banner’s brain. Interesting,” Ferrigno said.
“David inside of me functioning, I had David Banner as the Hulk. But unfortunately, Bill got sick and he passed on. It’s a good question because you would have seen a whole different side of the Hulk, and also of Bill Bixby, because they were gonna go in that other direction.”