The Hulk is one of Marvel's most recognizable and well-known characters, but over the years, that realy hasn't translated into big screen success. Bill Bixby's live-action Hulk TV show lasted five years in the late '70s, early '80s, and there have been multiple cartoons and animated features to go along with the long-running Marvel Comics series that began in 1962.
When it came to the big budget theatrical features however, two-time Oscar winning director Ang Lee wasn't able to sweep the box office with his and Eric Bana's take on the character, and Louis Leterrier tried again in 2008 with the help of Ed Norton (and a cameo by Robert Downey Jr.), but that didn't see any increase on the box office revenue side either, and so no Incredible Hulk 2. The character was again recast for The Avengers and with Mark Ruffalo playing both Bruce Banner and his big green alter ego, Marvel seemingly honed in on the winning formula, but that doesn't mean Hulk will get another solo film anytime soon.
Phase Two of the Marvel cinematic universe begins with Iron Man 3 in May and from then on, the road is already paved for the next three years, leading up to and including The Avengers 2 in 2015. Marvel President of Production Kevin Feige said that he does believe Hulk can work again on his own, but that such a thing couldn't happen until after The Avengers sequel.
On Sunday Joss Whedon shared a similar sentiment while attending the ninth annual Glasgow Film Festival as part of the European premiere tour of his take on Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, and the very last question of the Q&A was specifically about whether or not he could see Ruffalo's Hulk get his own film.
"Yes. But it would be very, very hard. 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."
As we've discussed here on the site and on the Screen Rant Underground podcast, Hulk works better as part of a team. The Jekyll & Hyde dynamic has been played out and there's only so much fun to be had in seeing an uncontrollable, indestructible green monster smash things.
With The Avengers taking steps to evolve the character however, there's potential to do some interesting things with Banner/Hulk in the future and while there are no (official) plans in store for the character (yet) outside of The Avengers 2, Mark Ruffalo does have a six-picture contract and there is that big rumor that Planet Hulk could happen come time for Phase Three of the Marvel cinematic universe, which begins with Ant-Man in late 2015.
Such a film would serve as a lead-in to a World War Hulk storyline that would factor into The Avengers 3. At this point, it's all speculation, but we all want to see more Mark Ruffalo. If you're interested, Whedon also dropped an interesting tease about "death" in The Avengers 2 while on his Eurotrip.
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Iron Man 3 releases May 3, 2013, Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015 and Ant-Man on November 6, 2015.