Three weeks ago we learned of a rumor of epic proportions regarding The Avengers franchise and the future of Mark Ruffalo's role as Bruce Banner AKA The Hulk. We knew that if The Incredible Hulk 2 were to ever become a reality it wouldn't be until after The Avengers 2, and with a lineup of six non-Hulk films officially scheduled with release dates up until the end of 2015, we wondered if Banner would ever get a headlining role again.
Ruffalo will be back for The Avengers 2 and after that - according to the earlier report - that story would setup a new Hulk standalone movie, one based on the Planet Hulk Marvel Comics series and animated feature. That film would in turn pay off with a World War Hulk story that would factor into The Avengers 3. New sources claim this is entirely untrue.
Latino-Review, who continue to prove themselves as leaders in dropping accurate Marvel Studios exclusives, gave us the Planet Hulk/World War Hulk news and with Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige previously name-dropping both of these in an interview as Hulk stories of interest, it seemed plausible, however unlikely a World War Hulk story on Earth seemed to be.
According to an "extremely well-connected source" of Beaks at AICN, verified by a second source, the Planet Hulk rumors are not true (the words "1000% inaccurate" were quoted) and such a film is simply not in the cards for Marvel Studios in Phase Three. This doesn't mean a new Hulk solo feature isn't coming after The Avengers 2, it just means they won't be launching big green into outer space and having a film with him entirely in monster mode. The selling point on The Hulk is Ruffalo and Planet Hulk features no Bruce Banner. There's also the problem of the obvious John Carter connection which Disney lost a lot of money on, a film which is eerily similar, not just in visuals to Planet Hulk.
So, two conflicting reports from two trustworthy publications. Someone's source is not telling the entire truth, or simply doesn't have the legitimate info. There's also the possibility that Marvel is putting out misinformation to derail media. There are elements of Planet Hulk and World War Hulk that can absolutely work their way into the upcoming films but seeing Banner completely lose control or separate himself from the Hulk entity seem unlikely after the character developments in Joss Whedon's The Avengers script. Whedon went on record this week saying he does believe a Hulk film can be done well, but explained that it's extremely difficult.
It may be a while until we know for sure. Phase Two begins in two months as Iron Man 3 kicks off the summer 2013 movie season, with Thor: The Dark World coming later this year. Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy both shoot this year for releases in 2014 and we wouldn't be surprised to see a Banner cameo somewhere along the line.
Should Hulk get another chance after two mediocre box office performances or is he better served as a key supporting character in the franchise going forward, leaving Phase Three films to new characters like Ant-Man, Doctor Strange and (hopefully) Black Panther?
Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes and let me know what Marvel Studios should do with The Hulk!
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.