Bruce Banner is one of the smartest characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with seven Ph. Ds. Is the actor who plays him, Mark Ruffalo, just as accomplished?
Mark Ruffalo does not have a Ph.D. Ruffalo not only doesn’t have a Ph. D. but he never even attended college before his acting career took off. He had both dyslexia and ADHD that went diagnosed throughout his adolescence which would have made learning more difficult for him. After high school, he attended the Stella Adler Conservatory.
Scroll down to read more about the academic career of Mark Ruffalo’s character Bruce Banner and Mark Ruffalo’s struggles in school.
Bruce Banner’s Academic Life
In 2012, Mark Ruffalo had his first appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s film The Avengers. He was playing a highly intelligent character named Dr. Bruce Banner who is more commonly known as the Hulk.
Bruce Banner is ranked as one of the most intelligent characters in the entire Marvel Universe. When CBR.com ranked the 25 most intelligent Marvel characters ever, they placed Bruce Banner at number seven, one spot ahead of Tony Stark.
However, this list is based on the comic book characters and not the cinematic universe characters. When many media outlets rank the Avengers in terms of intelligence, they tend to put Tony Stark ahead of Bruce Banner.
The only reason movie watchers put Stark ahead of Banner is due to Banner’s alter ego being a rampaging buffoon.
In both the cinematic and comic universes, Bruce Banner is a physicist and the top specialist in gamma radiation. It was a gamma radiation accident that initially turned him into the Hulk.
In both universes, Bruce Banner has at least one Ph. D. but it’s in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that he apparently had seven. He says this to Thor in the film Thor: Ragnarok.
While we like to believe that this is possible, it’s virtually impossible for the middle-aged scientist to have that many Ph. Ds since the shortest time it takes to complete a Ph.D. is four years.
Dr. Bruce Banner definitely has his Ph. D. in nuclear physics since he is one of the Marvel Universe’s top scientists in gamma radiation. Banner is also said to be a biochemist which makes sense since he was studying the effects of radiation at the cell level.
You can watch the scene from The Avengers where Bruce Banner(Mark Ruffalo) and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) meet for the first time in the below video.
Before he earned his Ph. D., Bruce Banner obtained his Bachelor’s Degree from Harvard University and moved on to work at Culver University.
Mark Ruffalo Struggled in School
On the opposite end, young Mark Ruffalo was the opposite of Bruce Banner. He struggled in school and has said in interviews that he was depressed and unhappy.
He was born to a hairstylist and a construction painter in Kenosha, Wisconsin. His family lived there until he was 13-years-old when they moved to Virginia Beach because his dad’s painting business had gone under.
The Ruffalo family spent Mark’s teen years in Virginia Beach, while his dad tried to build up a new business that also ended up failing. The family was running into more and more financial troubles and there was a lot of anger in the home.
While he was a popular kid in Virginia Beach due to his success as the state’s high school wrestling champion, he has said that he was miserable. He has stated that this was due to his awareness of human frailty.
There was a reason behind Ruffalo’s melancholic state growing up too. In a 2015 interview with Observer, Ruffalo revealed he has chronic depression.
He says “It’s Dysthymia. It’s a long-running, low-grade depression all the time. I’ve been struggling with that my whole life.”
On top of his depression, Mark Ruffalo also suffered from dyslexia and ADHD growing up, which has led him to be a patron of The Child Mind Institute. He participated in their My Younger Self campaign where celebrities were invited to share advice they would give their younger selves.
Their webpage dedicated to the This Is Our Youth actor quotes him saying “One of the things that was always very difficult for me was grade school. Feeling like I was strange and unique and freakish. I didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere.”
It is very clear that although Mark Ruffalo does a fantastic job playing a Doctor of Physics, he himself never achieved a Ph.D. Instead, opting to become one of the most famous actors in the world.