The Incredible Hulk was noticeably absent from 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, leaving some Marvel fans to wonder what happened to Dr. Bruce Banner after the events of Age of Ultron, where he flies off into the sunset in an untraceable Quinjet.
If you’ve seen the trailer for the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok movie, you’ll know part of the answer. He somehow ends up becoming a gladiator-type champion on the planet Sakaar. After that, he will be part of the larger Avengers: Infinity War storyline. However, it sounds like another solo film for the menacing green guy isn’t going to happen.
Mark Ruffalo, who has played Banner since the original Avengers movie in 2012, recently told Variety that it’s impossible due to a legal rights issue.
“I want to just make one thing perfectly clear today: A standalone ‘Hulk’ movie will never happen. Universal has the rights, and for some reason, they don’t know how to play well with Marvel. And, they don’t want to make money.”
Universal Pictures has already made two solo films about The Hulk, 2003’s Hulk (starring Eric Bana) and 2008’s The Incredible Hulk (starring Edward Norton). Despite not being made by Marvel Studios/Disney, the latter film is considered canon as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel and Universal then came to an agreement over using The Hulk/Bruce Banner character as part of the larger ensemble cast in The Avengers.
It’s a trick situation, but we’ve seen the impossible done before. At one point, no one ever expected Sony to relinquish the rights to Spider-Man. However, after much negotiation, the character was licensed back to Marvel (oh the irony) for Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming. So even though Ruffalo says it will “never” happen, you should probably never say never.