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It looks like the task of creating a solo Hulk movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is more complicated than we realized. Edward Norton was the last to be featured in one of these films before Mark Ruffalo picked up the mantel. Marvelites have been dying to know why the House of M won’t give the new Bruce Banner his own standalone outing, but according to Ruffalo, it’s out of Marvel’s hands at the moment.
Ruffalo recently spoke with Collider and said that the real issue here is that Universal still owns the solo Hulk movies.
Wait a minute! Isn’t Hulk a part of the Avengers universe and, therefore, okay for Marvel to use? Yes and no, apparently. If what Ruffalo says is accurate, then it means that even though Marvel Studios produced The Incredible Hulk, Universal maintains distribution rights. Because Banner is also a member of The Avengers, though, he’s able to appear in these big superhero team-up flicks. It’s the same train of thought that allows Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver to appear in Avengers 2, while Bryan Singer also used the speedster in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
So, sadly, even if Marvel wanted to make another solo Hulk movie, it’s currently out of their hands. Perhaps they could come up with some agreement, like the one they made with Sony to include Spider-Man in the MCU. As of now, though, this kind of project is not in the current plan.
There already are a lot of moving parts in the forthcoming Phase 3. The first priority is Captain America: Civil War, arguably the studio’s most ambitious undertaking yet. In pitting Steve Rogers against Tony Stark, Marvel will adapt one of the most famous comic book story arcs for the big screen and juggle a huge slate of characters, including the newly minted Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and, presumably, the new Spider-Man. From there, it’ll all be about introducing the new slate of superheroes — Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel and The Inhumans. Then there’s Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and the last Thor film to complete before the two-part Avengers: Infinity War.
Though Ruffalo said he doesn’t know yet if he’s in Civil War or not, Hulk could theoretically appear in any number of these films. As the actor revealed, he has approximately four more films left on his Marvel contract, which means we’ll definitely see him in some capacity after Avengers 2.