The actor who plays both Bruce Banner and his big green alter ego has dropped some intriguing clues about the future direction of the characters.
When we last saw Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, he had taken a Quinjet and disappeared into parts unknown, convinced that the Hulk was too much of a danger to the populace in general even if he was ostensibly fighting against the bad guys.
Speaking with Ain't It Cool News, Ruffalo confirmed that Banner was taking himself off the grid for a while:
"He's on the run. I think that we carry that through. It's not just a matter of taking himself to some remote place and hiding. Now he's removing himself from humanity altogether. I'm not sure where we're going to head with that, but I'm sure that's probably still very much alive within him."
Removing himself from humanity may lead to Banner removing himself from Earth completely, since it's been confirmed that the Hulk will skip next May's Captain America: Civil War but will appear in 2017's Thor: Ragnarok. Ruffalo hints that the choices the character(s) make are not necessarily being made by Banner alone:
"It's very subtle, but the Banner/Hulk consciousness is beginning to meld a little bit. Who decided to leave? Was it Banner or Hulk? It's not really in the (cinematic) mythology of Hulk up until that moment to be that conscious and pro-active. It's interesting, right?"
Indeed. As the article points out, we've never seen the two minds -- Banner and Hulk -- blend together in either the movies or on TV, although there is precedent in the comics. Here's Ruffalo again:
"I think it's really exciting where we could go with it. Now I feel like we're kind of in No Man's Land. I mean, the comic books have kind of broached the subject, but we're moving away from the traditional Hulk/Banner relationship. We're starting to mess with it a little bit...we're going to see how far we can push the limits of it before people get sick of it!"
The story of Bruce Banner and the Hulk is a classic archetype -- it's essentially the dual nature of humankind, Jekyll and Hyde and many more. But to see the two sides merging for the first time on the screen might very well take Banner and the big guy into new cinematic territory. Is this a direction you'd like to see them develop?