Hulk Smashes on Rolling Stone's Cover: Inside Our New Issue

Mark Ruffalo and Joss Whedon go deep on the Hulk and the Avengers sequel

Mark Ruffalo is the Hulk, the breakout star of the Avengers movies. Credit: Theo Wenner

He's big, he's green, he's ill-tempered  – and for the first time since 1971, he's on the cover of Rolling Stone. As our cover story puts it: "The Hulk is the breakout star of the Avengers movies, breaking stuff for all us sinners, hulking out for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe." So our new issue, on stands April 24th, goes deep on both the Hulk and the real people in his sizable shadow. Senior Writer Brian Hiatt hung out in New York with Mark Ruffalo, who plays Bruce Banner (and via motion-capture, the Hulk) in May 1st's The Avengers: Age of Ultron (read Peter Travers' review here!) and on Disney's Burbank lot with Joss Whedon, the movie's writer and director. Hulk co-creator Stan Lee and Incredible Hulk TV show executive producer Kenneth Johnson, among others, also chime in.

Here are some highlights from the story:

It took Whedon a while to realize where he got the idea for Bruce Banner's "I'm always angry" line in The Avengers: "I thought, ‘This feels psychologically true, like somebody could be like that,' " Whedon says. "And then about four months after the movie came out, something happened and I just lost my shit. I was like, 'Oh! It's about me!'"

Ruffalo feels that the Hulk comes into his own as a character in the new movie. "Now, Hulk is doing some acting," Ruffalo says. "He's not just raging. He's transitioning in and out of Banner, and that has its own inner life to it. We haven't even started to get into who the Hulk really is, what makes him tick. What is he fighting? What is he struggling against? What is he afraid of? We're only scratching the surface of it."

Ruffalo had doubts about playing the Hulk and Banner. "I was scared, a little bit," he says. He was impressed with Robert Downey Jr.'s left-field Tony Stark, which "opened the way for this kind of indie character-actor approach, totally off the radar of what you would consider to be your classic movie star. And I thought, 'Can I do that? Can I be as clever and charming and facile?' It was like, 'Downey!'"

There was a reason that the Hulk never spoke on the Seventies TV show. Lou Ferrigno was hearing-impaired and, executive producer Kenneth Johnson notes, "had 14 years of speech therapy, but it was all in Brooklyn. And do we really need him to say, 'Hulk smash?' It's like, hello, duh!"

Also in this issue: Mark Binelli on George Clinton, David Fricke on Joan Jett, Janet Reitman on Republicans' punitive policies towards pregnant women, Donald Fagen on his Coachella adventures, plus My Morning Jacket, Game of Thrones, Blur and more.

Look for the issue on stands or download it on Friday, April 24h.