During the Marvel Civil War story in the comics, the incredibly powerful Hulk wasn't a factor in the infamous feud between government-sponsored heroes led by Iron and vigilantes led by Captain America. Just prior to the events leading up to the original comic book version of Civil War, Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson in the films) - deeming Bruce Banner's big green alter ego too dangerous - had tricked him and launched him into deep space. That paved the way for the Planet Hulk storyline that took place off-planet as Earth's heroes fought each other over other reasons.
Planet Hulk and its followup story, World War Hulk, were wildly rumored as stories that this summer's Avengers: Age of Ultron was going to help set the stage for in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but it didn't quite work out that way. At least not yet. Avengers 1 & 2 writer and director Joss Whedon had previously shot down Hulk spinoff rumors (namely Planet Hulk & World War Hulk) and he wasn't just playing with the media. At the end of Ultron, Banner a.k.a. Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) is seen flying away to hide from the world after his actions, but not into space. When he'd return remains somewhat of a mystery. But not really.
The Hulk is going to be a factor come time for the two-part Avengers: Infinity War event in 2018-19, and with no Hulk standalone movie announced for the Phase 3 release schedule of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we thought it could be a while before Mark Ruffalo's Dr. Banner gets to appear on screen again. Then came the beginning of filming on Captain America: Civil War, which Disney and Marvel Studios announced alongside a cast list that included the return of William Hurt as General "Thunderbolt" Ross, last seen in The Incredible Hulk.
If Marvel is bringing this Hulk adversary (who Hurt says will be "different" which some believe may be a hint that Ross becomes Red Hulk from the books) back into the fold, would Ruffalo's Banner/Hulk make an appearance as well? Ruffalo of course, has not been officially announced to have a part in the film, but according to Robert Downey Jr., Banner will be in the movie and told Ruffalo as much. As of June, Ruffalo claimed he'd yet to receive a call sheet, but of course, he's not at liberty to reveal such information if he was in the movie. And trust us, Mark Ruffalo knows whether or not he's in the movie which brings us to today where he was reportedly spotted in Berlin with the cast of Captain America: Civil War.
German website Bild reports that yesterday evening Mark Ruffalo was out enjoying the late night life in Berlin's club district with fellow Captain America 3 stars Chris Evans, Anthony Mackie and Daniel Brühl. The production of Civil War is currently shooting scenes on location in Germany and this serves as more evidence that Bruce Banner has a role to play. And if its more than a cameo appearance, that would count this role as another feature on what Ruffalo revealed is only four left on his contract.
Like most of the veteran stars of the MCU, Ruffalo's contract with Marvel Studios may currently be set to expire after Avengers: Infinity War. As far as we can tell, that's also when all of the other main characters currently conclude their obligations as well (Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, etc.).
Of course, there could already have been re-signings or added options to some of the actors that we don't yet know about. The MCU does not end with Phase 3, and if Disney-Marvel can lock-in Robert Downey Jr. - the highest paid actor in Hollywood - for additional pictures beyond Avengers sequels (i.e. Civil War and potentially Spider-Man), they could bring back anyone for the right price. Even Ruffalo was completely honest and open to the idea that he could be in several additional movies.
The way we see it, the characters we consider the leads right now of the franchise can eventually step into more supporting roles as newer characters take the bulk of the action and screen time, allowing for Marvel to keep key players (again, like RDJ's Tony Stark) around for the long-term and organically progress the bigger picture story and supporting threads. Having the likes of Ruffalo and RDJ around long-term, even as a scientist for a few scenes or in Stark's case, the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. as he once was in Marvel Comics, can do wonders to boost marketability of new character films down the road, while taking less of their time for filming and press - and saving money from the studio's perspective. It keeps them in the universe and that's what matters.
As for Hulk, it's likely the destruction caused the beast over the years and especially in Age of Ultron is a key talking point in any sort of world government discussions about regulating super-powered individuals in Captain America: Civil War. Perhaps this movie could even be used to send Hulk... into space.
At this point, it's almost a given that Bruce Banner/Hulk will appear in Civil War. Would you rather see him shot into space or is that not a right fit for the MCU? Is it time for Red Hulk vs. Green Hulk? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Captain America: Civil War opens in theaters May 6, 2016; Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man reboot – July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Black Panther – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – November 2, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019.
Source: Bild (hat tip Nicholas)