The titular green-skinned giant in"Marvel's Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H." is not exactly the Hulk that fans have come to know and love through comics and films. For the new cartoon, Hulk is gentler, saner and much more in control of his emotions than most versions have been over the years. In a way, Fred Tatasciore, who voices the hero on the new series, considers this to be the character's ultimate version.
"Hulk is at a point in his life where he's trying to have -- instead of creating more enemies, he's trying to have people join him to do good things. And this is kind of a neat final evolution of Hulk in many ways," said Tatasciore, who's voiced The Hulk in cartoons and video games ranging from 'Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow' to 'Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2.' "He's gone from being savage Hulk to just being part of the team, which you see on 'The Avengers.'"
"Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H." follows the Hulk and his ragtag "family," comprised of A-Bomb, Red Hulk, She-Hulk, Skaar and a pet dinosaur, as they fight bad guys, smash things and go mini-golfing. It promises a truly family-friendly vibe, but Tatasciore doesn't see this as a water-downed take on the character.
"I'm trying to keep [the family] together," he said. Switching effortlessly back and forth between his real voice and the deep, booming voice of The Hulk, the actor compared the jade giant's early days, when he just wanted to be left alone, to the character's incarnation in "Agents of S.M.A.S.H." "Now, he'll see somebody that is having trouble, he won't immediately think that they're an enemy. He'll try to take them on in more of a peaceful approach. But if you threaten his family or, you know, try to do something bad to humanity, [and] he can turn it right back on!"
A veteran voice actor, Seth Green plays Rick Jones, a.k.a. A-Bomb, on the show, the Hulk's best friend and in this incarnation, social media PR person. "The media, you know, in this universe only portrays Hulk's damage. They only show the destruction and the aftermath, and there's no real consideration for the emotions of that character," he said. In the new series, A-Bomb documents the Hulk family's exploits and publishes video blogs online in an attempt to show the world the human sides of these characters. "[He documents their lives] in an effort to let the audience see that his buddy is a buddy, and not a monster."
"He's evolved," Tatasciore emphasized. "He's a little more self-possessed -- it's almost like he and Banner have sort of fused a little bit more."
Ben Diskin, who voices the Hulk's son Skaar, believes that's part of what Joss Whedon got right in his portrayal of The Hulk in 'The Avengers.' "I feel like kids really like the superhero, and adults really like the human aspect, but Hulk is either one or the other," he said. "Whedon did a great job in 'Avengers,' maybe because he knew exactly how long to use the Hulk. He's mostly Bruce Banner, he's there, and then it's like -- here's Hulk, he's freaking awesome! And then he's done."
"The tough thing about Hulk, as a character, is that there needs to be some fun in it too. Amidst all the darkness, amidst all the sadness, the trauma, the pathos, the weight of the guilt of being a destructive monster, there's still a little bit of enjoyment," Green commented, saying he believes Whedon captured the Hulk perfectly in two moments: When the green giant crashes through a building and, having transformed back into Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner, asks whether he hurt anyone, and the smile the creature gives Captain America when ordered to "smash" the Chitauri.
"Ruffalo's an incredible Banner," Tatasciore said. "I mean, that was a great choice."
"Isn't that awesome? What a great world we're living in, man," Green exclaimed, his excitement noticeable. "I can hardly take it. Guillermo [del Toro]'s making giant robot movies [like 'Pacific Rim'], Joss has got 'The Avengers: [Age of Ultron]' coming. It's so good, so good right now!"
"Marvel's Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H." premieres Sunday, August 11 at 11:00 AM on Disney XD.