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Mark Ruffalo on Marvel vs. 'Star Wars': 'You’re pretty much going to get the same version of Star Wars'

The MCU extends its shelf life with more creative ways to grab viewers’ attention than Star Wars, according to Dr. Banner.

By Benjamin Bullard
Mark Ruffalo in Avengers: Endgame press conference

Marvel has made four of the ten highest-grossing movies in the entire history of film, a box office feat that makes it tough to argue against the studio’s aggressively stepped-up MCU release schedule. But as a swarm of new Marvel movies and shows vie for audiences’ attention in theaters and on the small screen at Disney+, there’s bound to be at least a little grumbling.

Hulk actor Mark Ruffalo definitely doesn’t sound dismissive in offering his own perspective on the fast-paced frequency of new MCU projects. But Ruffalo, who’s back in smashing fashion as part of the cast of the new She-Hulk: Attorney at Law MCU series at Disney+, says there’s no big cause for concern that Marvel’s over-saturating screen viewers with its beloved comic book villains and heroes.

Why? Because, as Ruffalo explains, there’s a ton of creative freedom for directors and actors to freshen up the material that longtime Marvel fans think they're familiar with — way more, for example, than in the galaxy far, far away.

“It’s not something I worry about,” Ruffalo assured in a recent interview. “I understand that these things run their course and then something else comes along. But the thing Marvel has done well is that, inside the MCU, just as they do with comic books, they let a director or an actor sort of recreate each piece to their own style, their likeness…Marvel generally lets them bring that to the material.”

That kind of freedom simply isn’t part of the deal for directors and cast who dare to warp toward Disney’s hallowed, delicately curated Star Wars universe, Ruffalo added. “If you watch a Star Wars, you’re pretty much going to get the same version of Star Wars each time,” he said. “It might have a little bit of humor. It might have a little bit of different animation. But you’re always, really, in that same kind of world. But with Marvel you can have a whole different feeling even within the Marvel Universe.”

Ruffalo’s remarks were published the same day as Emmy-winning comic book connoisseur Damon Lindelof weighed in on whether studios like Marvel should allow their story sagas some extra breathing room. Speaking Aug. 11 on Vulture’s Into It podcast with Sam Sanders, the creator of HBO’s Watchmen (and all-around sci-fi mastermind) said a little more spacing between projects “would make each one that came out a little bit more special.”

“…[I]f you make a couple of great Marvel movies, the instinct is, we need to make more Marvel movies, and we need to expand this,” said Lindelof, noting that business decisions help drive studios’ desire for sequels and shared-universe expansions. “And I have this sort of interior feeling of like, Wow, I wish they made less because it would make each one that came out a little bit more special. But I watch all of them, Sam, all of them…People don’t want things to end. I do.”

Lindelof wasn’t done with the topic, taking to Instagram the following day after Variety picked up on his remarks. “Marvel, keep doing what you’re doing,” he wrote alongside a screen shot of Variety’s report. “I’m drinking coffee so I can stay up for the SHE HULK drop. Also, it’s not fair to put my photo next to [Chris] Hemsworth. By Odin’s Beard, he is MAGNIFICENT.”

If you haven’t sensed it by now, all the big-name back-and-forth over Marvel’s fast-paced MCU schedule isn’t exactly rising to the level of a war of words. Ruffalo’s Star Wars comments seem less like a dig at the franchise than a way to contrast the MCU’s relative strengths, while Lindelof sounds as much like a fan as a fault-finding critic.

In any event, Marvel’s calendar definitely is packed. The studio has a whopping four films landing in theaters next year, starting with the Feb. 17, 2023 release of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. That doesn’t even get us through an already-busy 2022, which still has She-Hulk waiting to smash onto Disney+, followed by the Nov. 11 release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (as well as the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special coming to Disney+ sometime in December.)

If it all seems like too much of a good thing, well, don’t be overwhelmed: Just take Marvel’s massive movie-verse one bite-sized step at a time. Ruffalo and a She-Hulk cast including star Tatiana Maslany, Jameela Jamil, Ginger Gonzaga, and Tim Roth (returning after a long MCU absence as Emil Blonsky aka Abomination) are all set to deliver a fresh taste of green-skinned chaos when She-Hulk: Attorney At Law premieres on Aug. 18 at Disney+.

Looking for more sci-fi content? Check out shows like Resident Alien, Brave New World, Project Blue Book, Eureka, Heroes, Intergalactic, and more streaming now on Peacock