Despite what Robert Downey Jr. says, Marvel has yet to issue official confirmation on Mark Ruffalo’s involvement in Captain America: Civil War. Dry your eyes, though, as Ruffalo’s next feature also has him playing the same destructive role — without the questionable science and CGI. Infinitely Polar Bear, which hits theaters today, follows the story of manic-depressive father Cameron (Ruffalo) who attempts to rekindle a relationship with his ex-wife Maggie (Zoe Saldana) by taking sole custody of their children while overcoming his mental health issues. Essentially, he’s tackling his greenest character in an indie context.
Yes, it’s been described as an ‘indelibly intimate portrait’ of family life, with Ruffalo singled out for his brilliant portrayal of a bipolar father. But really, isn’t he just tackling the same part on a smaller scale?
Banner, The Hulk’s alterego, is plagued by the same concerns as Cameron. During his troubled childhood, his father murders his mother in a jealous rage because she loves Bruce more than him. The result? Bruce’s own harbored feelings of resentment and inadequacy direct his mutation. A blast of radiation and he is forever regulating his mood, so he doesn’t go on a rampage and destroy a whole city. Likewise, Cameron is on the precipice of losing his family if he doesn’t address his escalating situation. Whereas The Hulk, in his standalone movies and in The Avengers ensemble, tries to battle his temper to save the lives of Betty Ross and Natasha Romanoff. Cameron does the same with the women in his life.
Simply put: The Hulk’s radiation transformation is a hyperbolic analogy — realized through expensive digital wizardry — for Cameron’s struggle. And Ruffalo is still keen to wring out every nuance from this type of role. Perhaps it was the opportunity to explore the same inner turmoil in a real-life setting that appealed to him. Or maybe just the chance to play out The Hulk’s manic-depression without the bothersome green screen?