Mark Ruffalo isn’t the sort of actor who demands adoration: He had to be convinced to accept an activism award last night at the Annual Riverkeeper’s Fishermen’s Ball, and while there, he said that self-obsession just isn’t his bag. “I’ve never Googled myself on the Internet,” he told us. Does that mean he’s never heard of “Science Bros,” an Internet subculture celebrating the friendship of Bruce Banner and Tony Stark, the characters Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. played in The Avengers? “No, what is that?” he asked. And then the giggles began.
If you’re as unfamiliar as Ruffalo was, feel free to Google image search “Science Bros” for a moment: You’ll find all sorts of fan art — some cute, some sexual — that pairs Ruffalo and Downey Jr.’s superhero BFFs. When we brought it up on our phone, Ruffalo could hardly believe it. “Are you joking?” he asked as he began scrolling through the images. “There’s all this art of me and Robert?” Giggles gave way to full belly laughter. A concerned publicist came over, though Ruffalo was laughing so hard that he could barely explain himself to her.
“Is that a cartoon of you?” she asked.
“Yes! It’s me and Robert! Look at this! There’s thousands of them!” Ruffalo tried to contain himself. “It’s called the Science Bros. This is awesome. I’ve never heard of it. Why hasn’t anyone told me about that?”
He kept scrolling. A pertinent question suggested itself. “So, are they all quasi-homoerotic?” he asked. “Like tinged with … ” Yup. “That’s cute!” He alighted on a drawing of Stark leaning onto Banner’s shoulder suggestively, offering him something out of a bag. “Would you like a gummy worm?” Ruffalo murmured, supplying his own caption.
Is he now a Science Bros shipper, then? “Yeah! I love it; it’s awesome,” Ruffalo enthused. “I endorse it 100 percent. You know what it is? It’s open-source creativity.” And here’s a scenario for the fans to contemplate: Ruffalo couldn’t wait to drop his newfound knowledge bomb on Downey Jr. “I’m going to call him and tell him, and he’s going to laugh his ass off,” Ruffalo said. “He’ll love that.”