Marvel’s ‘What If…?’ has recast not one, but two actors to play the Hulk in Phase 1 of the MCU. As a prelude to his comeback on Disney+ in ‘She-Hulk’, the green monster made his first Phase 4 cameo in the Marvel animated series ‘What If…?’ His comeback also brought back Betty Ross from The Incredible Hulk. Liv Tyler portrayed the character in the first film, while Stephanie Panisello took over the role for ‘What If…?’
Hulk’s status quo was drastically altered when Smart Hulk, Bruce Banner in a Hulk’s body, was introduced in ‘Avengers: Endgame’. So, the real Hulk is gone from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the MCU’s future, he might return in some manner. Whether it’s through time travel or some other means, but it’s far from a sure thing. A cameo appearance by The Incredible Hulk from 2008’s The Incredible Hulk was made in Marvel’s ‘What If…?’ episode 3. The show briefly explored that time of his life.
‘What If…?’ didn’t only affect the character’s fate by blowing him up with Hank Pym’s Yellowjacket. Mark Ruffalo reprised his role as Bruce Banner in the episode, despite not having played the character at the time. A recasting was unavoidable, but Hulk’s voice actor may have been overlooked. When it comes to Banner and the Hulk, Ruffalo does a great job, but Lou Ferrigno was responsible for the character’s voice effects in Phase 1. In the beginning, Ferrigno was chosen for the role because of his close connection to the character. He portrayed the muscle-bound Hulk in the five-season series that aired in 1978.
As a follow-up to The Incredible Hulk, Ferrigno voiced the character in ‘The Avengers’ and ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’. However, the part was a bit different from what he had done previously. To produce the Hulk’s voice, Marvel used a mix of Ruffalo and Ferrigno in these flicks. When it came to the Hulk’s dialogue, Marvel relied on Ruffalo’s certain phrases. These included The Avengers’ “puny god” remark, instead of Ferrigno. From then on, Ferrigno’s role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was less important. This happened because Ruffalo was given full control over his language and motion-capture performance. For this reason, Ferrigno did not appear in Thor: Ragnarok nor Avengers: Infinity War.
Because Marvel has changed Mark Ruffalo’s role so much in the MCU, Lou Ferrigno’s replacement in What If…? episode 3 is a reflection of that. Human Scientist Hulk’s alter ego is no longer merely the Hulk’s human alter-ego. Now, the actor is the only one who can play both parts. As a result of this, Ruffalo will continue to play the Hulk for the foreseeable future in Marvel’s What If…? and She-Hulk, as well as subsequent MCU films.
Not much is known about Bruce Banner’s role as the smart Hulk in the upcoming She-Hulk series. However not too long ago. a member of the cast shared an image that made fans conspire on Banner’s role. The image was that of a T-shirt (probably distributed to the cast and crew), that depicted both Hulks enjoying their drinks at “Bruce’s Bar”.
Now whether Bruce Banner will reprise as his powerful self on the show is unknown. But by the looks of it, Bruce has perhaps mastered mixology for himself. Alas! It is only a matter of time that fans will find out how involved is Bruce in the upcoming show. Up until, fan theories, sneak-peaks, and leaked images are all that Marvel enthusiasts can lean on to know all about their favorite characters.