Mark Ruffalo Had His Own Ideas On She-Hulk's Casting Way Before Tatiana Maslany Got The Role

In "Avengers: Endgame," it was revealed that the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) had conceived of a way to stay a green-skinned muscle monster at all times while maintaining his ability to think and reason. Prior to this breakthrough, Bruce Banner only turned into the Hulk when he was angry, becoming an unreasoning brute keen only on destroying everything in front of him. Sadly, this development for the Hulk meant that audiences would not be able to see Ruffalo, a very good actor, in person any longer. In "Endgame" and in the TV series "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law," Ruffalo was realized only through motion-capture CGI. It's very good CGI, but it's not Ruffalo's real face. The last time we saw Ruffalo was during a brief spiritual out-of-body experience in "Endgame," and even then, he was a translucent ghost. 

When it came time to make "She-Hulk," the showrunners had a decision to make: do they, like with Ruffalo, use motion-capture CGI to create the character, or do they cast someone tough and strong who could play the part with green body makeup. Naturally, the honchos at Marvel Studios went with the former, but there are plenty of actresses who could have played She-Hulk without the need to use CGI. If it were up to me, and it was 1992, I would cast the late great Julie Strain. 

Ruffalo himself had been thinking about who might play She-Hulk for a long while before actress Tatiana Maslany was cast in the role. Indeed, in June 2014, Ruffalo engaged in a Reddit AMA wherein he was asked by a fan who he thought should play the part. His idea? "Avatar" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" star Zoe Saldaña.

A pre-Gamora Saldaña

As Ruffalo receptively wrote on Reddit: 

"Oh wow, that's pretty crazy. Well, I think Zoe Saldaña would be a great She-Hulk. It'd be nice to see someone like her join the Avengers. Or someone quiet and demure like Emma Stone would be nice. But it would be up to the powers that be."

It's worth noting that Ruffalo thought of Saldaña before she appeared in James Gunn's Marvel movie "Guardians of the Galaxy," which was released the following month. Ruffalo may have seen the preview for "Guardians," which featured Saldaña in full green alien makeup, but it's also likely that he didn't bother, perhaps more interested in working and living than watching previews for Marvel movies he wasn't in. Without that information, though, Ruffalo's choice might have been novel. Saldaña was capable of playing fighters and badasses, and we now know how she looks in green face paint, so she would have made a fine She-Hulk, sans CGI. 

Emma Stone would have been fun, too, although, as Ruffalo implies, she would have to be cast for her ability to play shy and quiet, building a contrast between Jennifer Walters and her Hulkish alter-ego. Emma Stone already played Gwen Stacy in "The Amazing Spider-Man" two years before, so Marvel fans would have to be comfortable with the double-up. Although Chris Evans had already played the Human Torch and Captain America, so maybe it wasn't a stretch. 

In 2020, it was announced that Maslany would play the role, assuring that the series would be less about badassery or Wolf Man-like Hulk terror, and more like the 1990s "She-Hulk" comics, which possessed a comedic bent. The series ran for one season. It's unlikely there will be a second