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Taking Spider-Man out of the equation, the most easily recognizable character in Marvel Comics is the Hulk. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1962, the character skyrocketed in popularity, due to being a very different kind of superhero. He’s a scientist who turns into a big, green (originally gray), monster. There have been a few on-screen adaptations of the character, most notably ‘The Incredible Hulk’ TV series starring Lou Ferrigno and Ang Lee’s ‘Hulk’ film in 2003 starring Eric Bana. The character made his debut in what is now the gargantuan Marvel Cinematic Universe with 2008’s ‘The Incredible Hulk’ starring Edward Norton. The character has since been recast in the MCU with Mark Ruffalo and has appeared in supporting roles throughout multiple films.
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It has been over fourteen years since the Hulk’s last standalone telling while his co-Avengers, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America have all gotten their own complete trilogies. It has not always been clear to the casual MCU fan as to why one of Marvel’s biggest names has only one standalone film under his belt. However, with recent comments from Ruffalo, could another Hulk title be on the way?
Where The Hulk Character Is Now
After his solo film in 2008, the character had a major role in Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’. While all six members of the title team were given a chance to shine in their own way, the Hulk was easily the breakout star of the film. Despite this not being a Hulk film, this was unquestionably the best on-screen portrayal of the character up to that point and probably since. The next appearance of the character was in the film’s sequel, ‘Avenger’s: Age of Ultron’. This film gave us more of the Hulk we loved in the first film mixed in with a relationship storyline with Black Widow. Two and a half years passed till we next saw the Hulk in 2017’s ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ alongside fellow Avenger Thor. The film saw the character on an alien planet with Bruce Banner being suppressed inside Hulk’s body. While this was certainly an interesting direction for the character, it felt bogged down by the bland humor that has unfortunately become a staple of MCU films. In ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, Marvel decided to go further in this direction by giving the Hulk one scene where he loses a fight to Thanos and then have Banner, one of the smartest characters in the Marvel universe, act like a clueless idiot throughout the film, trying to bring the Hulk out.
The current iteration of the character was introduced in ‘Avengers: Endgame’ and now in Disney Plus’s ‘She-Hulk: Attorney At Law’. This version of the character sees Bruce Banner in the body of the Hulk. The character is now very different from when we first met him, and not in the best way. It would have been a very believable and natural progression for the character throughout the films if the Hulk developed his own cognitive skills and consciousness whenever in control. The films sort of did that, though not in a very effective way such as what the most recent ‘Planet of the Apes’ films did with Caesar’s speaking ability with each new movie. The films could have gone this route or they could have stuck to the Jekyll and Hyde dynamic that is the fundamental aspect of the character. Either would have made for a more engaging progression of the character than what we got.
Why There Has Not Been A Hulk Movie In 14 Years
It may have been a while since we’ve had these discussions since Disney’s acquisition of Fox which gave Marvel the film rights to the studios’ catalog of Marvel IP, but the matter of rights factors in here. ‘The Incredible Hulk’ was distributed by Universal Studios and while Marvel had the rights to use the character in their films, a standalone Hulk film with the character’s name in the title could not be made without Universal.
However, seeing as it has been 14 years since a standalone Hulk film, the rights should revert back to Marvel pretty soon, if they have not already. Then again, film rights may not be the only roadblock for a solo Hulk movie. Given where the character currently is in MCU and how his journey, for better or worse, has progressed, how does Marvel tell a story centered around a character like this? Another question to consider is how much longer Ruffalo will continue to portray the character after doing so for a decade across various films and now a TV series.
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Could A New Hulk Movie Be On The Way?
Well, it now looks like most of those roadblocks have been cleared. Mark Ruffalo made recent comments where he mentioned that the idea of another Hulk movie has at least been brought up in the halls of Marvel Studios. To be clear, this is in no way confirmation that another Hulk movie is happening. In his comments, Ruffalo simply mentions that ideas have been mentioned. He floated the notion of adapting the iconic ‘Planet Hulk’ or ‘World War Hulk’ storylines into a potential film. It should be noted that elements of the former comic were incorporated into ‘Thor: Ragnarok’, albeit in a very watered-down and schlocky way. The ‘World War Hulk’ storyline, on the other hand, would have literally earth-shattering consequences for the MCU, if adapted faithfully.
The gist of the story basically follows Hulk returning to Earth to lay waste and seek revenge against the people of the planet and its heroes who exiled him into space. Either one of these infamous Hulk stories can certainly be told on screen, but a few changes should and almost certainly will be made. Ruffalo also did bring up the idea of seeing what Hulk was up to during his time on Sakaar or potentially during the five-year-jump in ‘Avengers: Endgame’ to see how Banner was able to take control of the Hulk’s body. Whatever the case, the prospect of a long overdue Hulk film is certainly exciting.
By Nader Chamas
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Nader Chamas is an aspiring television writer who seeks to fuse thought provoking progressive ideals into the films, shows, and stories that he loves. Having graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Screenwriting, Nader seeks to use his writing to advance causes that do not get enough attention or input across mainstream media. Like most, Nader has his own share of his favorite franchises and stories across pop culture. However, he seeks to contribute timely and relevant topics into these stories as well as in his own original material. This is why Nader’s analysis of popular films and tv shows matches The Hollywood Insider’s practice of discussing entertainment from a socially cognizant and critical perspective.