Out of all the Avengers in the MCU, there’s one fans seem to think was a little bit wasted, including any potential for a future franchise.
Unfortunately, it was Hulk, one of the most beloved of the classic Marvel superheroes.
Many fans now think he didn’t evolve too well by the time Endgame came along. That hybrid version (otherwise known as “Smart Hulk”) didn’t really appeal to purists. After all, the delineation between Bruce Banner and the Hulk was as large as Jekyll and Hyde.
That was just one problem with Hulk. Considering there are still distribution rights issues involved with Universal, there could have been a tendency to place him on the sidelines all along.
If only Marvel could gain full rights, the character might be able to have a proper franchise on his own.
Long before ‘Endgame’ the Hulk was in one of the worst MCU movies
While a lot of the Phase One MCU films are considered somewhat inferior to the later phases, the first Hulk movie is often considered the worst of all. The Incredible Hulk in 2008 was intended to be a new take on the character, but it backfired due to Edward Norton not finding the rhythm for the Bruce Banner character.
Not that Norton didn’t have a lot of ideas for the role he wasn’t allowed to nurture. Also, it was written by Zak Penn before the more famous creative team was put in place for the MCU movies known today. Penn was mostly known for writing the X-Men movies at Fox, proving there was a misguided combination between Fox and Marvel in the beginning.
If this movie brought a pall to Hulk from the start, the franchise at least improved him thanks to bringing Mark Ruffalo aboard later and teaming the green one with other Avengers.
Arguably, the best of Hulk came in 2012’s The Avengers. After that, his character seemed to take a strange and mysterious turn.
Hulk left the MCU temporarily
Though we first met Hulk in 2008, we didn’t see much more of him past the several Avengers events that followed.
After Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Hulk flies off into the unknown (supposedly Fiji), and we don’t see or hear from him again until Thor: Ragnarok (2017). It’s here he reveals he crashed his ship on Sakaar and has been stuck in Hulk form for the past 2 years.
His absence means that he missed Captain America: Civil War, a pivotal moment in the Avengers saga that tested the loyalties of the initiative’s team members. His story arc, therefore, remains almost completely separate from the rest of the Avengers. What was he doing all that time away?
Right up until his Infinity War arc begins, Hulk’s adventures during his absence remain mostly a mystery, even during his Ragnarok re-introduction. A solo film could have added to that vague backstory. Could it still?
Did Marvel already miss a prime opportunity to fill in that gap with another Hulk-focused movie? It may already be too late.
Why Marvel may never make another Hulk movie
After many decades of being as iconic as Spider-Man, Marvel should have made extra effort to make Hulk a more fleshed out character during the MCU films. Unfortunately, Mark Ruffalo has said there probably won’t be a solo Hulk movie any time soon.
Those rights issues with Universal are an ongoing problem, something Disney could no doubt work out eventually. Should rumors hold up that they may have solved this recently, an in-depth solo movie (with or without Ruffalo) is more than overdue.
Placing the current writing team on this would likely make it work in a time when so many would relate to those anger issues the original TV show only began to explore with fascinating aplomb.