Summary

  • Even if Hulk never gets another MCU solo movie, his story can still continue in the form of an
    Avengers
    movie where he’s the protagonist, in spirit.
  • Otherwise, Hulk has the potential to be the main villain in an
    Avengers
    movie or another MCU team-up film, with his newly unleashed anger leading to the formation of a new group of heroes.
  • Instead of a standalone film, Hulk’s storyline could span multiple solo titles in the MCU, following
    Thor: Ragnarok
    ‘s approach of featuring Hulk in a co-starring role.



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Even if Hulk never gets another MCU solo movie, Mark Ruffalo’s Gamma monster can still continue his character arc in various different ways. Despite being a founding member of the MCU’s Avengers and starring in the MCU’s second movie, Hulk hasn’t starred in a solo film since 2008’s The Incredible Hulk. After Hulk’s brief MCU origin story recap and first major battle, Hulk has only appeared as a supporting character in all his MCU appearances. Universal’s shared ownership of Hulk’s movie distribution rights may have been the biggest obstacle keeping Marvel Studios from giving the Jade Giant his own sequel.


Marvel’s ability to release a Hulk-centric film without sacrificing part of its profits may have changed recently given that Hulk’s distribution rights were set to revert to Marvel in 2023, at least in theory. However, Mark Ruffalo revealed that Hulk will never get his own movie, as Kevin Feige allegedly told him “We’ll never give you a standalone Hulk.” While this confirmation may be disappointing, it doesn’t mean that Hulk will have a limited role in future Marvel Studios movies and shows. In fact, there are creative ways to feature Hulk that the MCU hasn’t yet taken full advantage of.

The Incredible Hulk

Release Date
June 13, 2008

Director
Louis Leterrier

Runtime
112 minutes

Distributor(s)
Universal Pictures


Hulk Provides The Perfect Justification For A Grounded Avengers Movie

world war hulk captain america civil war


Marvel Studios may not be able to release a Hulk solo movie if Hulk’s movie distribution rights are still an obstacle, but the MCU can still have an Avengers team-up film with Hulk at the forefront. Phases 4 and 5 have made great strides towards a Hulk-themed MCU storyline with Jennifer Walters’ introduction and the Abomination’s return in She-Hulk: Attorney At Law, as well as with General Ross’ transformation into the Red Hulk and the Leader’s return in Captain America: Brave New World. Following these plotlines, a future MCU installment could bring together various heroes to deal with Hulk’s enemies.

Such an Avengers crossover event would give Ruffalo’s Hulk his biggest role since The Incredible Hulk, as he’d be the movie’s protagonist, at least in spirit. Savage Hulk’s return would only make this hypothetical Avengers movie a bigger MCU event, as it could feature a battle between multiple MCU Hulk-like Gamma monsters, with the original Hulk as the lead. The MCU has already used a similar approach with Avengers: Infinity War, where Thanos is the movie’s spiritual protagonist. Even Captain America: Civil War achieved a similar feat, as the Avengers were the spiritual protagonists in Steve Rogers’ third “solo” installment.


Hulk Can Be The Main Villain In A Future MCU Movie

Hulk with the MCU Avengers and the Young Avengers
Custom Image by Nicolas Ayala

On a similar note, Hulk himself could be the main villain in a future Avengers movie. The return of the classic Savage Hulk, or perhaps the birth of a new Hulk personality like Devil Hulk or World-Breaker Hulk, are simple enough explanations for the beginning of a new storyline that takes Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk out of the rather uneventful status quo he’s experiencing due to Smart Hulk’s creation. Angrier than ever, Hulk would provide the MCU with a believable reason to assemble a new group of Avengers — a team-up that’s long overdue since the original team dissolved in Avengers: Endgame.


There’s enough precedent of Hulk’s antagonistic role in Marvel Comics. Since as early as 1964’s Fantastic Four #25, Hulk has come to blows with the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men in the source material. Hulk was even the Avengers’ first-ever enemy in the Ultimate Universe, as well as the Earth’s most dangerous threat in World War Hulk, where he singlehandedly defeated the X-Men. While a full-fledged World War Hulk MCU adaptation would be ideal, an Avengers movie that adapts World War Hulk with an unstoppable, full-powered Hulk as the main antagonist could be just as accurate and exciting.

2012’s
The Avengers
drew some inspiration from Hulk’s antagonistic role in the team’s comic origin story through Loki’s failed attempts to turn Hulk against them aboard the SHIELD helicarrier.

Hulk’s Next Storyline Could Be A Multi-Movie Arc


If an Avengers movie where Hulk is either the spiritual protagonist or the main antagonist isn’t in Marvel’s plans, Hulk’s MCU journey can also continue in the form of multiple appearances over the course of various titles, not unlike the character’s supporting roles so far. However, instead of just small parts in Avengers sequels, Hulk could still star in a proper Hulk-centric story — only that it would take place across several different titles. This way, the MCU’s World War Hulk adaptation would look like an overarching MCU storyline that serves as the background for Avengers, Young Avengers, and Thunderbolts installments.

Bruce Banner / Hulk Appearance

Year

The Incredible Hulk

2008

The Avengers

2012

Iron Man 3

2013

Avengers: Age of Ultron

2015

Thor: Ragnarok

2017

Avengers: Infinity War

2018

Avengers: Endgame

2019

She-Hulk: Attorney At Law

2022


The MCU could develop comic arc adaptations like World War Hulks, Immortal Hulk, Return of the Monster, and Future Imperfect, all of which could be a small part of other characters’ stories. World War Hulks pits all Gamma monsters against each other and the Avengers. Immortal Hulk involves Marvel’s mysticism, allowing characters like Doctor Strange and Scarlet Witch to be involved. Return of the Monster places Hulk in the path of seemingly unrelated characters in his attempt at self-exile. And though less likely, Future Imperfect could be intertwined with whatever remains of the Multiverse Saga’s time travel after Phase 6.

The MCU Can Always Repeat Ragnarok’s Formula With Hulk


A tried-and-true method to include Hulk in future MCU movies without his own solo movie lies in Thor: Ragnarok‘s approach. Thor: Ragnarok merged Asgard’s destruction not only with Unworthy Thor‘s deconstruction of the character, but also with Planet Hulk, which originally follows Hulk after he’s exiled to outer space and becomes a gladiator on a far-off planet. Since bringing back Hulk in Thor 5 would make this formula a little repetitive, Marvel Studios could try it again in a different hero’s sequel, either adapting one of Hulk’s still unexplored comic book storylines or just creating his own new original arc.

One of the MCU characters who could share the spotlight with Hulk in their own movies is Doctor Strange, who met Bruce Banner after Thanos defeated Hulk in Avengers: Infinity War, and who could dive deep into Hulk’s psyche to bring out all his untapped potential. After Secret Wars concludes the Multiverse Saga, Hulk could become a potential co-protagonist for an MCU Wolverine movie, as Hulk is Wolverine’s first comic book enemy. And given that She-Hulk: Attorney At Law followed in Thor: Ragnarok‘s footsteps in Phase 4, Jennifer Walters’ future appearances could be the safest option for Hulk’s MCU return.


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