One of the things that fans are going to be most excited by when they see “Avengers: Age Of Ultron” is the developing relationship between Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanoff. We see our first indications of it when she finds Hulk on the battlefield at the end of the opening action sequence, and she initiates “the lullaby,” a technique they've developed for calming the Hulk and allowing Banner to regain control.
Overall, Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson do some of my favorite work in the new film, and not just in that great scene between the two of them in the middle of the movie. Ruffalo is playing both Hulk and Banner now, and there is some great stuff he does in both roles. I really like the whole Science Buddies thing that Banner and Stark have going on, but what Ruffalo does so well is play the jokes that Whedon loves to write without ever playing against the truth of Banner's ongoing nightmare.
Both of the “Avengers” films have made near-perfect use of The Hulk, and this one in particular should be studied by anyone Marvel hires to use The Hulk in the future. This movie understands the weird tension that's created when we, the audience, really want to see The Hulk, but we also sympathize with Bruce Banner, who doesn't want The Hulk to come out at all. Whedon navigates that beautifully, and he uses Natasha to help underline just what the stakes are.
The one question I didn't broach with Ruffalo is the main one people are going to have after the film, which is about the fate of The Hulk. We'll get into that more when the film opens in the US, and we can have these conversations openly.
“Avengers: Age Of Ultron” is in US theaters on May 1st.