Watch how Mark Ruffalo assembled his Marvel co-stars to re-dub this blockbuster hit in Lakota

From left to right: Black Widow, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Hulk from the 2012 movie The Avengers

When “The Avengers” hit theaters in summer 2012, Marvel Studios shattered box office records around the globe. 

Grossing over $1.5 billion worldwide, the superhero film kickstarted newfound enthusiasm for comic book adaptations and catapulted the cast of actors into a new stratosphere of success. 

Because of its global acclaim, the film was subsequently dubbed in over a dozen languages — including French, Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish, and Hindi — by an international cast of actors. 

But on June 14, Disney Plus did something unprecedented. The platform released a Lakota dub of the film — recorded by the original cast of the Avengers. 

“This project came out of my relationship with the Lakota people, and it was this fun thing that they wanted to do,” Mark Ruffalo said in a Marvel Entertainment featurette. “[They said:] ‘Let’s do a Lakota dub of ‘The Avengers.’” 

Ruffalo plays Bruce Banner, and his greener alter-ego, Hulk, in the Marvel team-up movie. 

The actor has worked extensively with Native American communities to highlight systemic injustice, champion Native land rights, and amplify tribal voices through Protect the Sacred.

“I’ve been hearing about the work they’ve been doing to revitalize the language, you know there’s not a lot of people left who can speak it,” Ruffalo said. 

Lakota — also known as Lakhota, Teton, or Teton Sioux — is an Indigenous language spoken primarily in the northern plains of North Dakota and South Dakota. 

According to the Endangered Languages Project, only 2,000 people speak the language today — a decline of 66% across the last decade alone. 

“Our ancestors, they were punished for speaking our language,” Lakota teacher Ray Taken Alive explained in the featurette. 

“Our language went kind of underground, it was spoken in bedrooms when the matrons weren’t there at boarding schools, it was spoken in dark rooms where nobody could hear them, but it was still spoken.” 

Ruffalo reassembled the majority of his “Avengers” castmates for the dub: Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), and Chris Evans (Captain America).

Cyril “Chuck” Archambault of Standing Rock, who served as an executive producer of the Lakota dub, said that the cast was professional and thoughtful during the dubbing process, and that everyone was respectful of the film’s mission to preserve Lakota culture. 

“Our idea was to put the language back into the homes of our people,” Archambault said. “To be able to have them bond in such a way that they’re having fun watching a movie and be totally integrated with the language of our people.” 

According to the featurette, it was also a fun challenge for the cast to tackle. 

“That is just so slick!” Downey Jr. exclaimed from a recording booth, as he watched back footage of his dub. “What a beautiful language.” 

“It’s a daunting language,” Ruffalo said. “There’s sounds that we just don’t have in our own language that they have in theirs. But once you start to get them it feels really good.” 

“It’s not lost on us that the original Avengers all came back together to do this project, and how amazing that is,” said Taken Alive. 

Taken Alive and Archambault also employed a full cast and crew of tribal members to work as supporting characters, sound engineers, and language experts. 

Taken Alive said this project, which has taken years to produce, has been monumental for the “sustainability” and “capacity” of Indigenous culture. 

“You have the most famous film franchise in the world, and some of the most famous actors — and celebrities and characters — speaking our Lakota language, that was once banned,” he continued.

“I think a really beautiful thing from the project is our language doesn’t have to hide anymore.”

Watch the full-length behind-the-scenes featurette below:

Header image via Marvel Entertainment / Disney Plus

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