'Avengers Endgame' Spoilers: Professor Hulk Rumor Leaked by Ruffalo in 2018

After refusing to join the fight in Avengers: Infinity War, the Hulk is expected to return in Endgame. Now, an old interview with Mark Ruffalo appears to confirm that not only will the big green guy return, but he’ll take on a dramatically different role as a smarter version of himself often referred to as Professor Hulk.

The Professor Hulk theory hinges on recent Avengers: Endgame leaks showing the Hulk’s face with a more serious look then we’ve seen before, but that’s not the only evidence around. In a March 2018 interview with Entertainment Tonight, Ruffalo — well-known for spilling spoilers to the press — may have revealed a larger character arc that Marvel intentionally mapped out for Hulk across Thor: Ragnarok, Infinity War, and Endgame.

“We all love the Hulk because he’s angry,” Ruffalo says, “but there’s something exciting about getting to know Hulk outside of that … He’s gone from a raging 2-year-old to a 6-year-old. I see his progression through all these movies. He’s getting more and more mature and wiser.”

Wait. Was Ruffalo simply talking about Ragnarok? Or was he hinting at the Hulk’s future in Avengers Endgame? Based on everything we know today, it definitely seems like Ruffalo was verging into spoiler territory.

Watch the full interview here (the relevant quote begins at about 4:10).

Specifically, he could be hinting at Professor Hulk, an amalgamation of both Bruce Banner and Hulk’s personalities based on several plot lines from Marvel comics. This version of Hulk certainly fits with Ruffalo’s description of a “wiser” character (something we didn’t exactly see in Ragnarok even if that Hulk could at least string a few words then). It’s also worth noting that in 2018, Ruffalo already knew where his character’s story was heading in Endgame since he personally helped map out that character arc in a previous conversation with Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige.

Professor Hulk definitely feels like a fitting conclusion to that story, which has played out as a struggle for control between Banner and Hulk. Avengers: Endgame could provide closure by offering a balance between those two personalities that mixes the strength of Hulk with the intellect of Banner.

Moments later in that same 2018 video, the interviewer jokes that Hulk could eventually become as smart as a teenager. In response, Ruffalo says, “Yes, and someone else will be playing him.” This seems to suggest that Hulk will indeed continue to advance, even if Ruffalo might not always be the one to play him. (The actor’s contract with Marvel leaves room for one more movie after Endgame.)

That means there’s still room for the current version of the Hulk to continue to grow and evolve beyond Avengers: Endgame. But in the short term, we’re definitely expecting to see him return in April, and based on this old interview with Mark Ruffalo, the version of Hulk we see next could be the wisest, most mature version yet.

That sure sounds like Professor Hulk to us.

Avengers: Endgame hits theaters April 26, 2019.