Why Marvel Studios Can't Make A Hulk Stand-Alone Movie

For the last thirty years, no one seemed to give a shit about a movie adaptation of The Incredible Hulk. Universal made two attempts to bring the character to the big screen, once in 2003 with director Ang Lee and star Eric Bana and later in 2008 with director Louis Leterrier and star Edward Norton. Both films failed to become big box office hits, the later despite a cameo from hot-off-Iron Man Robert Downey Jr., reprising his role as Tony Stark.

No one cared about the Incredible Hulk until writer/director Joss Whedon brought the character to the big screen in The Avengers with Mark Ruffalo playing Bruce Banner. And since that film hit in 2012, everyone and their mother has asked Mark Ruffalo, Joss Whedon and Marvel head Kevin Feige when we'll see the big green guy get his own movie. And we've heard many excuses over those years. And now we might have an answer as to why Marvel is not making a Hulk stand-alone movie right now. Find out who owns the Hulk movie rights and lets take a trip down the history of developments for the Ruffalo Hulk stand-alone movie.

Does Marvel have the rights to make a Hulk movie?

Collider talked to Mark Ruffalo at the Avengers: Age of Ultron junket and the star revealed why a stand-alone Hulk movie isn't coming any time soon:

As far as a Hulk movie, a standalone Hulk movie, Marvel doesn't really have the rights to that yet. That's still Universal's property, so there's that issue. That's a big impediment to moving forward with that. Now I don't think that's insurmountable, by the way, but I don't know where it's going from here for me.

The fact that Marvel Studios doesn't have the rights to a stand-alone Hulk movie is something I've personally never heard before, but it makes sense.

Avengers - Hulk

How Long Until Marvel Regains the Hulk Movie Rights?

You have to wonder how many years that contract holds for Universal. We've heard that 20th Century Fox's rights for Fantastic Four were to revert back to Marvel had they not made the upcoming Josh Trank film, and that was eight years since the last movie, Rise of the Silver Surfer. So you'd have to assume that Universal is probably on a similar renewal timeline, and I couldn't see that going over the ten year mark.

Its been seven years since we've seen a Hulk movie from Universal Pictures. So with the Hulk now becoming a popular superhero property, will Universal want to let go of the movie rights? Or will Marvel Studios have to work with them on a future Hulk stand-alone film?

The Avengers - Mark Ruffalo Hulk mo-cap

How Many Marvel Movies Is Ruffalo Signed For?

Ruffalo also discussed the amount of movies he has left on his Marvel contract:

I think it's four now, but that could always go further. That could include different—I could show up in another character's movie; I could do Avengers 3 and 4; I could do a Hulk standalone; I could do a combination of those things. That's four or five, I think.

I think its safe to say we will see Ruffalo in The Avengers: Infinity War Part I and II. And Captain America: Civil War, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and Doctor Strange are other possibilities. Right now the Marvel calendar is filled until Summer 2019, so we aren't likely to see a Hulk stand-alone movie until then. (Although anything could happen.)

Incredible Hulk 2008

A Brief History of a Marvel Studios Hulk Stand-Alone Movie

The reason Hulk worked in The Avengers is because Joss Whedon was very clever in how he used the character. Whedon has since gone on record to say that it would be "very, very hard" to make a Hulk stand alone movie good:

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.

Feige has teased that he thinks "we have something special with our Mark Ruffalo Banner, and we'd love to see where we could take his stories." The Marvel head has also stated that we won't see a Hulk movie until at least Phase Three. Fan rumors have insisted that Marvel is developing a movie based on the Planet Hulk storyline.

Planet Hulk

What About the Planet Hulk Storyline?

And then last year Ruffalo revealed that Marvel was finally considering a stand alone Hulk movie, but the star doesn't believe that the Planet Hulk storyline is in the cards.

"I think you need more Banner," he said. "The whole thing is just him as Hulk, on a planet, fighting other gladiators."

But then Ruffalo said last week that he be "completely interested in entertaining" the idea of a Planet Hulk storyline for a Hulk standalone movie, so you never know.