After two underwhelming Hulk movies, it might be understandable that Hollywood studios might be gun shy about sinking another nine-figure budget into an effort that looks unlikely to make a return on that investment. But is that still case? Mark Ruffalo has played the character in two successful Avengers movies, and is so far the only actor to play the Hulk in more than one movie. In other words, audiences have embraced him in the part. They may be willing to see more Hulk out on his own without the other Avengers, and certainly Age of Ultron set that possibility up. However, reports are saying now that the only thing stopping the arrival of a new Hulk at the multiplex is the will of Marvel Studios itself.
Back in April, before the release of Age of Ultron, there’s was discussion around why no Hulk movie starring Ruffalo had been made, or even announced amongst the slate of Marvel movies coming up through 2019. According to Ruffalo, the issue was rights and the fact that Universal still owns a piece of the Hulk enough to govern whether or not a Hulk movie gets made.
“As far as a Hulk movie, a standalone Hulk movie, Marvel doesn’t really have the rights to that yet,” he said. “That’s still Universal’s property, so there’s that issue. That’s a big impediment to moving forward with that. Now I don’t think that’s insurmountable, by the way, but I don’t know where it’s going from here for me.”
However, according to a report in Forbes, Universal is really no obstacle to a Hulk movie at all because Universal Studios only holds the distribution rights to any future Hulk film. In fact, their deal with Marvel is more like first right of refusal, meaning that if Disney and Marvel wanted to make a Planet Hulk movie, for example, and Universal passed on distribution, then Disney could then release it themselves. Is it likely that Universal wouldn’t take that deal, all the money from a Marvel movie with none of the expense of actually making it? Doubtful. And with the year that Universal’s been having thanks to Furious 7, Fifty Shades of Grey and Jurassic World, they might not even think twice about funding the whole darn thing anyway.
So we know it’s more a matter of will than it is way when it comes to the next Hulk movie. Perhaps it’s more likely that the creative brains of Marvel Studios can’t think of a good or interesting story to make another Hulk movie out of, and are using the old rights excuse as a way to not talk about it. It’s possible that Marvel has learned the lesson of past Hulk movies and have come to the conclusion that the character just doesn’t work as a solo hero, and that’s okay. Perhaps Ruffalo’s Hulk is meant to be a team player, just as Ruffalo himself is a renowned supporting player.
In the meantime, rumors have been swirling that the Hulk will next appear in Captain America: Civil War although that hasn’t been confirmed by Marvel. Failing an appearance in another Marvel film, it’s likely that we’ll next seen the Hulk in the two-parter Avengers: Infinity War.
We’ll have more news as it develops.