Out of the original Avengers roster from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, three superheroes have gotten their solo movies: Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor. Meanwhile, a Black Widow solo-movie has been rumoured for months, Hawkeye has little to no chance of getting his, and the Hulk is going through some legal issues regarding his character's rights.
Before Marvel announced their line-up for Phase Three, fans were hoping for a Planet Hulk movie to make it to the list. Sadly, it didn't happen that way, and it all points to a new Hulk solo-movie not happening anytime soon. As explained by Mark Ruffalo, the main issue with Bruce Banner leading his own movie is a legal battle between Marvel and Universal.
Although Marvel Studios owns the character's rights to use him in other movies – such as the Avengers films and soon Thor: Ragnarok – as well as the distribution rights for a solo movie, Universal still holds the production rights to any Hulk standalone films, making the prospect of a new one a bit complicated.
In an interview with Yahoo!, Mark Ruffalo spoke about this on-going issue and what are the chances for a new Hulk movie happening in a near future.
"I think they've been working on it. Marvel and Universal famously don't get along very well, and so that's working against us, definitely. But I know for a fact that everyone is holding out hope that one day we can do it. But the nature of the relationship right now, it's a little prohibitive. And I hope that changes; that changes with regimes, it changes over the course of time. But right now, it doesn't look particularly promising."
Sony and Marvel managed a deal to bring Spider-Man to the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Sony still holding the rights for standalone movies. Before this particular deal happened, Spider-Man's fate didn't look promising, and everyone thought Sony was not going to give up the rights to one of Marvel's most loved characters. Although the seemingly impossible happened between Sony and Marvel Studios, the situation between Universal and Marvel is more tense. As Ruffalo puts it, they are "just not having a good time together right now."
The Hulk's ventures into the field of standalone movies were in 2003 in the hands of Ang Lee, and in 2008 with The Incredible Hulk (directed by Louis Leterrier). The latter is acknowledged as part of the MCU – with character General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross making a comeback in Captain America: Civil War – even though it features a different Bruce Banner (Edward Norton).
Bruce Banner will not take part in the Civil War battle of Team Captain America vs. Team Iron Man, but he will join fellow avenger Thor in Thor: Ragnarok, marking his return to the big screen after going M.I.A at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Ruffalo shared that production for Ragnarok will begin in the summer and that there's "still a lot of work to do on that." As for not being part of Civil War, he says it's "sucky. They're saving me, so I'm told."
With the future of a standalone Hulk movie as uncertain as it is, we hope he will be included in more movies alongside other heroes, as it will serve as an opportunity to expand this character's story and explore his bonds with other superheroes.
Captain America: Civil War will release on May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man – July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on May 1, July 10 and November 6, 2020.