Superhero Thor may be getting a little help battling his enemies in the upcoming movie “Thor: Ragnarok.”
Actor Mark Ruffalo, who portrays the superhero the Hulk in the Marvel films and fights with Thor as part of the Avengers team, is reportedly nearing the end of negotiations to appear in “Ragnarok.” Ruffalo has so far appeared in the two “Avengers” movies and also appeared briefly in another fellow Avenger's film, the 2013 movie “Iron Man 3.”
Casting Ruffalo as Bruce Banner was seen as a win for Marvel when the first "Avengers" movie, Ruffalo's first appearance as the character, was released. Two previous "Hulk" movies had come to theaters, starring two different actors, Edward Norton and Eric Bana. The third time was apparently the charm – fans and critics have enjoyed Ruffalo's portrayal.
“Ragnarok,” which is scheduled to come out in the winter of 2017, will be the newest film centered on the Marvel superhero Thor, who comes from Asgard and wields a powerful hammer. However, the movies starring Chris Hemsworth as Thor are actually low-grossing compared to other Marvel productions. (Of course, just about any movie released by Marvel recently has still been a hit.) While the first movie featuring fellow Avenger Captain America, 2011’s “Captain America: The First Avenger” was on the lower end of Marvel box office grosses, the second “Captain America” movie that came out in 2014 became a big hit for Marvel. By contrast, Thor’s second movie, 2013’s “Thor: The Dark World,” only did slightly better financially than the 2011 “Thor” movie and “Dark World” was slammed by critics.
So perhaps Marvel is hoping that bringing in Thor’s friend Bruce Banner, also known as the Hulk, will pique audience members’ interest and result in a more successful “Ragnarok” film.
Having the Hulk pop up in Thor’s story will also address the question that seems to have been asked for every movie since “The Avengers” was released. If one Avenger is battling a villain, why don’t the other Avengers help them out? When “Dark World” was released and the question was raised, Hemsworth made up some humorous excuses for the other characters, saying, “Captain America is doing some shopping, Iron Man is fixing his suit, and Hulk was… I think he was on a holiday somewhere?”
Is Marvel’s strategy of having their superheroes appear in one another’s movies getting stale for some moviegoers? The gimmick was part of how the company originally introduced moviegoers to the Avengers team. While Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor all got their own movies before Marvel released “The Avengers," the superhero Black Widow appeared in Iron Man's movies. That way, audiences unfamiliar with comic books already knew and presumably were attached to most of the main characters in “Avengers.” The strategy paid off. The first “Avengers” movie is still the company’s highest-grossing film domestically, with the second “Avengers” movie coming in behind it.
But in the Avengers sequel, which was stuffed with appearances by Marvel players like War Machine (Don Cheadle) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie) as well as appearances by new superheroes like Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), some reviewers complained that the screen was feeling too crowded. “The strain of multitasking begins to show,” A.V. Club writer A.A. Dowd wrote. “The film doesn’t just reassemble the all-star ranks … it also feeds supporting players, borrowed from Marvel’s various solo outings, into the franchise hub … the movie never really finds room to breathe.” Indiewire writer Eric Kohn agreed, writing, “Other characters … surface in bit parts just to remind us of the bigger picture. But at this point it's gotten so crowded that the franchise could burst at any moment.”
So now the question is, will audiences cheer or yawn if the Hulk appears to help out Thor in “Ragnarok”?