Fans have been asking for a rebooted Hulk standalone movie ever since Mark Ruffalo stepped into the character's shoes in The Avengers. However, the actor has explained once and for all why it's never going to happen.
At the D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center in California, the stars of Avengers: Infinity War revealed an exclusive first trailer of the highly anticipated superhero film. Together with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige were Marvel Cinematic Universe actors Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Bettany, Don Cheadle, Anthony Mackie, Tom Holland, Sebastian Stan, Elizabeth Olsen, Josh Brolin, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Chadwick Boseman, and Dave Bautista. They were also joined by director Joe Russo.
Following the special screening, Ruffalo caught up with Variety and talked about the possibility of him starring in his own Hulk standalone movie. He explained that due to the conflict in the ownership over the Hulk franchise, a Marvel/Disney-made Hulkmovie 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," Ruffalo said.
Cheadle, who was with Ruffalo on the red carpet, chimed in and said, "And with you as the new Hulk, it would be terrible."
The Hulk is one of the original member of the Avengers both in the films and the comic books. Iron Man and Captain America have wrapped up their trilogies, while Thor is about to star in his third film this November. Feige is committed to working on a Black Widow standalone movie, while there are no signs yet of a solo Hawkeye outing. The Hulk's situation, however, is a bit more complicated.The question of who owns what with respect to the Hulk films was a matter explained in detail by Mark Hughes of Forbes. Hughes reported that Marvel Studios regained the film production rights to Hulk in 2005, after Universal's license expired due to its failure to produce a sequel to Ang Lee's 2003 film Hulk, which starred Eric Bana.
However, Marvel did not obtain the distribution rights to Hulk films. Universal still retains the right to distribute any Hulk movie. To be specific, Universal currently holds the right of first refusal to distribute future Hulk movies.
The distribution rights issue, however, does not pose a big enough impediment to prevent Marvel from producing a standalone Hulk movie with Ruffalo at the center. As a matter of fact, Marvel released Iron Man and Iron Man 2 while Paramount still held distribution rights to the title. Interestingly, 2008's The Incredible Hulk, which starred Edward Norton, who took over for Bana. The film was produced by Marvel and distributed by Universal.
In that sense, the fact that Universal holds the distribution rights to Hulk movies doesn't seem to be the only reason why no new film is being discussed at Marvel. After all, the studio can buy the rights from Universal or broker some other deal beneficial to both parties, similar to the agreement between Marvel and Sony over the Spider-Man movies.It's possible that the abysmal box office returns of the two previous Hulk movies have convinced Marvel to decide against making a standalone film, and instead just focus on developing the character as a key member of the Avengers.
Even with these constraints, fans are hopeful that a Hulk standalone movie will come out of Marvel's doors the same way the studio did with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Most importantly, Ruffalo is interested in doing a solo adventure as the Hulk.
In an interview with Yahoo! Movies, Ruffalo revealed his interest in doing a solo Hulk outing and that his story's arc in upcoming Marvel films will give fans a deeper look into the character.
"I'd love to do a Hulk movie, but that's beyond my control," Ruffalo said. "But we've worked a really interesting arc into Thor 3, Avengers 3 and [Avengers 4] for Banner that I think will – when it's all added up – will feel like a Hulk movie, a standalone movie."
[Featured Image by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images]