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Despite being one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most popular heroes, it’s been a while since moviegoers have seen The Hulk go on his own adventure. Aside from 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, the Green Goliath has been limited to ensemble movies and adventures starring his Avengers teammates, and there are no plans to give him another movie. The rationale behind this is because Universal holds the "right of first refusal" when it comes to solo movies about the giant rage monster, making him more their property than Marvel’s. While there have been instances before of studios working together, actor Mark Ruffalo doesn’t think that the state of Marvel and Universal’s current relationship bodes well for Hulk’s solo future.
Pointing out how this year’s deal between Marvel and Sony resulted in bring Spider-Man to the MCU, Yahoo! asked Ruffalo whether something similar could happen with Hulk now. Here was the actor’s response.
Marvel and Universal famously don’t get along very well, and so that’s working against us, definitely. But I know for a fact that everyone is holding out hope that one day we can do it. But the nature of the relationship right now, it’s a little prohibitive. And I hope that that changes, that changes with regimes, it changes over the course of time. But right now it doesn’t look particularly promising.
One would think that with how successful Marvel has over the last seven years, Universal would want to play ball with the House of Ideas. After all, it’s not like they have other superheroes they can build their own cinematic universe with, so it would benefit them more if they worked with Marvel on Hulk’s future. It’s like Ruffalo noted, there are many people who want to see Hulk tearing it up again by himself. Of course, considering that The Incredible Hulk is one of Marvel’s least commercially successful movies, that already is a strike against the character. Along with everything happening in Phase Three and being planned for Phase Four, Marvel likely doesn’t consider another Hulk movie a priority, choosing to keep him in the game through other movies. So until there’s one of these regime changes that Ruffalo speaks of, fans will have to make due with the current circumstances.
Although he won’t be striking out on his own anytime soon, Hulk still has a busy schedule over the next several years. He’ll return in 2017 for Thor: Ragnarok, and Ruffalo recently hinted that we could see a more intelligent version of the Green Goliath partnering with the God of Thunder out in space. Following that, he’s expected to return for the Avengers: Infinity War movies, and while the circumstances of his participation haven’t been disclosed, we can only hope to finally see him throw down in fisticuffs with Thanos.