The second Marvel Cinematic Universe entry, way back in 2008, introduced audiences to a new version of Bruce Banner and the Incredible Hulk. That film was a modest success, following on the heels of Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man. Despite this, it remains the only Phase 1 MCU outing to never receive a sequel.
That could change soon. Rumor has it that a new Hulk solo outing, World War Hulk, will start filming in 2022. The project will star Mark Ruffalo and is expected to take place after the events of She-Hulk, an upcoming Disney+ series.
But why would Marvel wait until now to make another Hulk movie? What stopped them from making another solo entry for the big green monster over the past 13 years?
The Incredible Hulk’s Film Rights
Marvel Studios and Disney haven’t had the distribution rights to solo Incredible Hulk movies throughout the duration of the MCU. While the studio could make a film starring the gamma-fueled hero, Universal Studios would make all distribution decisions. Those choices, like release date, marketing, and, critically, where the movie would be allowed to stream, would be handled by Universal.
At least, that’s how it used to be. The World War Hulk rumor indicates that Marvel has won back the distribution rights to a standalone Hulk project. If this is true, it would be huge for Marvel; The Hulk its one of the company’s most popular characters.
The next Marvel property that Mark Ruffalo is confirmed to appear in as Bruce Banner is She-Hulk. Tatiana Maslany is slated to star as the titular Jessica Walters, Banner’s cousin. Walters is a lawyer who becomes a superhero after receiving a blood transfusion from her cousin. This radiation transforms her into a lumbering green monster when she chooses.
Unlike Bruce Banner, Jessica Walters retains her personality and intelligence while “Hulked up.” She doesn’t even need to get angry to change her form! The series is set to release at some point in 2022.
Another familiar face will also be returning. Tim Roth will reprise his role as Abomination (aka Emil Blonsky) from 2008’s Incredible Hulk. Roth recently appeared as the troubled villain in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, reminding audiences that another gamma-powered super-person is still out there.
World War Hulk
In the comics, the World War Hulk arc is a direct sequel to the events of Planet Hulk. After being banished from Earth by the Illuminati, Green Scar (the big green guy hidden inside Bruce Banner) becomes a warlord on a world called Sakaar. Upon returning to Earth, Green Scar and his allies battle against The Illuminati and conquer the planet.
In 2017, Thor: Ragnarok loosely adapted Planet Hulk, showcasing the more intelligent side of Green Sar. However, Banner isn’t motivated by revenge for a prior exile in the MCU, so he doesn’t return to his home planet as a conqueror. Instead, the MCU version of Banner helps the Avengers battle Thanos during Infinity War and Endgame events.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited. The Hulk is one of my favorite Marvel characters, and the World War Hulk comics present him at the height of his powers. The following entry might even set up Bruce Banner as the significant threat the Avengers have to face in their forthcoming team-up. Until then, hype and speculation about the potential plot of She-Hulk and World War Hulk will keep fans guessing!