The green-skinned monster known as the Hulk, who has an insatiable thirst for destruction, has been a crowd favorite ever since he made his big-screen debut. Portrayed by the incredibly gifted Mark Ruffalo, Hulk has grown to be quite important in the MCU. Thus, fans were excitedly awaiting his massive role in Avengers: Infinity War due to his unbridled power and charisma. But in the middle of the exciting action scenes and gripping fight scenes, something unexpected happened.
Test audiences, the unsung heroes tasked with shaping the final product did not react as one might have expected to the big fight scenes involving the Hulk’s character. The writers Stephen McFeeley and Christopher Markus, along with directors Joe and Anthony Russo, revealed on the Avengers: Endgame commentary track that Smart Hulk was originally supposed to appear in Avengers: Infinity War during the Wakanda battle.
Why Did Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk Scene Change After Avengers: Infinity: War Test Screenings?
By taking on the roles of Bruce Banner and the Hulk, Mark Ruffalo did an excellent job portraying the part, which contrasted nicely with The Avengers’ main cast. But Banner’s failure to reveal the Hulk at a pivotal point in Thanos’ attack is among the most memorable scenes from the Battle of Wakanda in Avengers: Infinity War.
According to Slash Film, Banner nearly stole the third act of the movie by revealing himself as Smart Hulk and removing his Hulkbuster armor.
The filmmakers and writers of Avengers: Infinity War explained their choice to omit Banner’s Smart Hulk storyline from the movie. The movie mentioned that the original plan was for Smart Hulk to make his screen debut in a 2018 superhero film, written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeley and directed by Joe and Anthony Russo.
With reference to that crucial sequence in the Wakanda conflict, McFeely clarified that
“At [Banner’s] hour of greatest need, [he makes] some sort of compromise [with Hulk], and Smart Hulk rips out of the armor and beats the crap out of Cull Obsidian, and destroys him.”
According to McFeely, that scene had to be cut in order to keep the mood consistent and get viewers ready for Thanos’ impending meltdown. He clarified:
“The movie needed to just stay in its succession of losses in the third act.”
Although that scene was also rendered, according to Joe Russo, test audiences did not find it to be very appealing.
Avengers: Infinity: War: Smart Hulk Failed to Impress the Audience in the Initial Screen Tests
Joe Russo stated that the Smart Hulk scene was not well received by test audiences and that it did not pass early screen tests. Although that scene had also been rendered, according to the director, test audiences did not find it to be particularly appealing. He remarked (via Slash Film):
“We had shown it to a few audiences, to test audiences, and none of them would accept it. I think it was just happening too quickly..”
According to Russo, they also had to give priority to other scenes for the third act of Avengers: Infinity: War. He noted:
‘We just didn’t have enough … because we were in the climax of the movie, I don’t think we had enough space to really tell that story in a way that felt satisfying, where you weren’t just focusing on, ‘Oh my god, there’s a madman with almost a complete Gauntlet who’s gonna undo half the universe’.”
Given the gravity of Thanos’s impending snap, Stephen McFeely concurred that the scene would not work. He explained:
“Imagine before Thanos shows up, we had a scene where Hulk comes out of the bushes, and Natasha says, ‘Hey, big guy, sun’s getting low.’ And he says, ‘Oh, Natasha, that’s not … We don’t need that now.’ …and then they’re all gonna get dusted. It was just tonally off.”
Avengers: Infinity War shattered numerous box office records, emerged as the highest-grossing film of 2018, ranked fourth overall, and became the first superhero film to make over $2 billion in total worldwide.
Disney+ offers streaming for Avengers: Infinity War.