Making Smart Hulk: Avengers: Endgame‘s VFX Supervisor Reveals his Secrets

One of the most shocking reveals in Avengers: Endgame (a film filled with shocking reveals) was when Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) tracked down Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo)—only to find him in some new, semi-Hulk form. Not only was Banner now in this new semi-Hulk form, he still retained all of Banner’s brilliance. He became, in essence, Smart Hulk. Now Marvel has released a new video featuring VFX supervisor Dan DeLeeuw who explains to us how they were able to create this new and improved Smart Hulk.

The development of Smart Hulk began with the VFX team experimenting with how much Ruffalo and how much Hulk would be the right mix. During filming, Ruffalo was wearing a motion-capture suit, so Smart Hulk’s movements all originated from Ruffalo’s performance. When it came time to create this new Hulk, it was up to DeLeeuw and his team to get the software to a place where it was translating Ruffalo’s performance into this quasi-Ruffalo Hulk.

“[Mark] knows the character’s journey through the films, you know how brilliant of an actor he is, and suddenly he’s bringing that to you,” DeLeeuw says in the featurette. “For the visual effects side…you have the artistry and the technology in a place that can actually incorporate that into the final physical effect. His face is so elastic, with his big cheeks, you need to be able to get all of that. One, to get out of the uncanny valley, and two just to realize that that’s Mark.”

The diner scene where we first meet Smart Hulk is the culmination of years worth of technological advancement. Before this technology had advanced this far, you’d often place an actor in a motion-capture suit off on his own, separated from the set and his co-stars and acting against a green screen. The key, DeLeeuw explains, was not only making sure Ruffalo was as comfortable as he could be (despite the fact he was wearing a giant helmet with a camera mounted on the front, and the motion-capture suit), but also placing him on set with his fellow actors. Ruffalo was really there in the diner, interacting with his co-stars and actually eating that crepe with sausages (Smart Hulk’s version of the same plate of food is, of course, twice the size). “It’s a way to keep the seen from feeling sterile,” DeLeeuw says.

Check out the video below to see just how Smart Hulk was created. Avengers: Endgame will be available for digital download on July 30.

Featured image: Marvel Studios’ AVENGERS: ENDGAME. Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Photo: Film Frame. ©Marvel Studios 2019


Bryan Abrams

Bryan Abrams is the Editor-in-chief of The Credits. He's run the site since its launch in 2012. He lives in New York.