It’s kind of easy to agree with Kevin Burwick of Movie Web when it comes to the idea that the MCU has kind of softened the edge of the Hulk, and it’s even understandable that Lou Ferrigno has made his opinion known about it. But when it comes to not being able to take Mark Ruffalo seriously it would seem that Ferrigno has ruffled a few feathers in the MCU. To be fair to both sides of this argument the character has been changed throughout the years, and not always for the better. Eric Bana, despite being a good actor, wasn’t really right for the part, while Edward Norton seemed a bit better, but Mark Ruffalo does have the kind of tortured mien that Bruce Banner has been known for throughout the years, and like Norton he was depicted as being on the run before being brought in. Ferrigno is of course entitled to his opinion since he was one of the actors that made the Hulk really stand out over the years, but given that many things have changed since he and Bill Bixby turned in such a great performance back in the 70s it’s fair to say that he simply didn’t want to see things change as they have.
For many of us that have followed the Hulk throughout the years he’s been known as being the big green rage monster that we came to know and care about at some point in our lives. He exemplifies a part of our being that is, in some way, the most visceral part of all of us that simply wants to respond to negative stimuli and bash anything we can’t handle to pieces. The Hulk has been for many years the epitome of rage in the Marvel universe, and while it’s been seen that he can be taken down, there haven’t been a lot of opponents that have found this to be easy. It’s true that Eric Bana’s Hulk was a bit goofy in appearance and in action, but Edward Norton’s hearkened back to a more savage time when the Hulk was simple rage incarnate and couldn’t be stopped by anything less than another heavily super-powered creature that could match him hit for hit. Of course even the Abomination could only hang with Hulk for so long since he was eventually defeated. But Mark Ruffalo’s version is somewhat softer since it’s been seen that Disney seems to want to explore the neutrality that is needed between Hulk and Banner.
Since Disney took over the MCU things have definitely been given a softer and more family-friendly edge than people are used to, and the Hulk has been one of those that has been affected. In Infinity War he had his butt handed to him by Thanos, but this could be explained away since Hulk is a brawler and even came close to losing to Thor in Thor: Ragnarok. When he’s pitted against opponents that know how to fight and have years of experience he’s almost always been at a loss until he manages to get his licks in. But as Cooper Hood from ScreenRant states, in Endgame the Hulk became more of a scientist as Banner’s intellect took over even while he wore Hulk’s form. The bestial side of him was gone, and a lot of people were kind of disappointed since Banner, being the logical individual that he is, seems to have robbed the Hulk of his ferocity and absolute savagery.
Perhaps one of the best representations of the Hulk at his best and most savage came during the World War Hulk saga, since he’d retained the intelligence of Banner but the savagery of the Hulk, and in doing so was able to rain destruction and ruin down upon his former allies that had shot him into space. That story line doesn’t seem like it will happen any time soon however since the Julk we have in the MCU now is far more docile and doesn’t seem to like smashing anything any longer as a scene in Endgame would indicate. Ferrigno does have a point when it comes to not being impressed since Ruffalo’s Hulk, despite being savage to begin with, has become little more than a big guy with an immense amount of power at his disposal. The trouble with this is that Banner’s more logical mind tends to hamper the more bestial and savage tendencies of the Hulk, and as a result “Hulk Smash” has become more along the lines of “I’ll smash if I have to or feel like it”. See the difference? People want to see the Hulk at his best, but so far in the MCU we’ve kind of been left with a Hulk that’s halfway there and content to just stop where he is. Mark is a good actor, there’s no doubt of this, but even in the comics when the Hulk and Banner integrated the Hulk was known to be violent from time to time.