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One month after 2008’s Iron Man ushered in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the fictional world expanded with The Incredible Hulk. Since then, Bruce Banner and his monstrous counterpart have appeared in other Marvel movies, but there has yet to be another standalone Hulk movie. Much of that has to do with how Universal still holds the rights to solo Hulk adventures, and according to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, contractual issues need to be worked out with that studio in order to give the Green Goliath his own feature.
During an extensive Q&A with Deadline, Feige was asked what would need to happen to get a Mark Buffalo-led Hulk movie. Here’s what he said:
Well, those are contractual things that I’m not entirely attuned to. Disney and Universal would need to come to an agreement to allow Marvel to do a standalone Hulk film for Disney. What’s so great, and as you just said, Ruffalo lights up any room he’s in, any Twitter feed he’s engaged in and any movie that he’s in. It’s just a great pleasure to have him in The Avengers films and as you know his next appearance will be in Thor: Ragnarok, which is a whole other type of fun Hulk adventure for him that we can’t wait to get started on.
It was explained last year that after Universal failed to make a sequel to 2003’s Hulk by 2005, their ownership of the hero lapsed. However, they still hold the “right of first refusal” for solo Hulk movies. So even though Marvel can include Hulk in any one of their ensembles pieces or movies starring a different character without issues, they need to consult with Universal if they want him to venture out on his own. Mark Ruffalo also stated several months ago that Marvel and Universal apparently don’t get along, so that may be causing problems for any cooperation between the two. Of course, given that The Incredible Hulk didn’t perform as well as expected, there may be narrative concerns for another Hulk movie well, but these contractual issues are the main obstacle.
Despite the lack of a Hulk movie in Marvel’s Phase Three and maybe beyond, moviegoers will be seeing plenty of the green powerhouse in the near future. As Feige noted, Ruffalo will star in Thor: Ragnarok next year, with Bruce Banner/Hulk traveling across the Nine Realms with the God of Thunder. From there, he’ll appear in the Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 and Part 2, and Ruffalo has said that those movies, along with the third Thor movie, will add up to feeling like a standalone Hulk story. All those, along with The Incredible Hulk and the last two Avengers movies (and an Iron Man 3 cameo), mean that Hulk has gotten a lot of screen time.
Hulk will unleash his next bout of rage when Thor: Ragnarok is released on November 3, 2017.