Despite his status as one of Marvel’s most recognizable superheroes, the Hulk has had some trouble transitioning to the big screen. Ang Lee got some of the limpest reviews of his career when he tried a decade ago with Hulk; Louis Leterrier fared only marginally better in 2008 with The Incredible Hulk. Neither film earned enough to make a sequel a no-brainer the way Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger did.

And yet, Mark Ruffalo‘s turn as the not-so-jolly green giant in last summer’s The Avengers garnered such a positive reaction from fans that speculation began swirling about a third attempt at a Hulk standalone. At a recent event, Avengers director Joss Whedon offered his opinion on the possibility of a Hulk movie. Basically, he thinks it’s possible — but it’d be “very, very hard.” Hit the jump to read his comments.

Whedon was posed the question of whether Ruffalo might get his own Hulk film during a Q&A at the Glasgow Film Festival. Here’s his typically thoughtful response (via Screen Rant):

Yes. But it would be very, very hard. Hulk is a tricky son of a bitch. He’s the Claudio of superheroes. Because the problem is it’s a very popular character, but it’s not a superhero. Half of it’s a superhero, half of it’s a werewolf. And you can’t structure it like a superhero movie, you can’t light it like a superhero movie. How do you develop that? It would be extremely difficult. The one thing you would have in your favour would be Mark Ruffalo. But right now I don’t know if they have plans to do that or not, because he works so well as part of a greater whole, but by himself, it’s tough. I don’t envy the guys who went before.

Whedon’s explanation makes sense, and if anyone would know about imminent plans it’d be him. (Unless, of course, he does know and is lying.) It’s true that as interesting and likable as the Hulk is, he’s not an easy fit for a traditional superhero narrative. But Whedon comments aren’t confirmation that Marvel Studios will never attempt another Hulk movie. To the contrary, studio president Kevin Feige has said that he “absolutely” thinks the Hulk could carry a movie, though any such project wouldn’t get underway until after The Avengers 2 in 2015.

Furthermore, there have been some indications that Marvel may have big plans for Ruffalo’s Hulk. Last week, we got our hands on a design for Iron Man’s Hulkbuster armor, which could point at an upcoming battle between him (and maybe the Avengers) and the Hulk, and earlier this month Latino Review got a big scoop about Marvel’s plans for a cinematic version of the Planet Hulk plotline, in which Hulk is exiled to space. (In the movie realm, that was theorized to happen at the end of The Avengers 2.) He lands on an alien planet, soon conquers it, and eventually returns to Earth, pretty pissed off. That could set him up as the first antagonist in The Avengers 3.

Then again, maybe not — AICN’s sources have since insisted that the Planet Hulk rumor is “1,000% inaccurate.” Part of the reason? There’s not much room in that story for Hulk’s human side, and Marvel wants to use Ruffalo as human actor, playing Banner, and not just doing mocap for the green guy.

Considering how well Ruffalo’s Hulk fared with fans, I’ve no doubt Marvel wants to do something with him, but at this point a standalone movie is definitely a ways away. So far away, in fact, that there’s plenty of time for any plans they do have right now to shift around as we move through Phase Two. In the meantime, Hulk fans can keep an eye out for that TV series Guillermo del Toro has in the works. Development is apparently slow-moving, but it’s probably our best shot at seeing him onscreen before 2015.

Discuss: Do you want Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk to get his own movie? Personally, I’m not dying to see another movie that’s just about the Hulk… but I would totally watch an entire film centered around Bruce Banner and Tony Stark’s adorably geeky rapport from The Avengers. Not saying it’s gonna happen, but a girl can dream.

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