The Hulk has had quite the uphill battle in the movie department over the last 10 years. Whether it was 2003′s Hulk (Ang Lee) or 2008′s Incredible Hulk (Louis Leterrier), fans just were not satisfied with what was put on the silver screen. It wasn’t until 2012′s Avengers (Joss Whedon) that things got back on track, and now that Hulk is back on the lips and hearts of fans, adults and children alike, why haven’t we seen anything from the mean green machine?
Unsurprisingly, the internet balked at the idea of Mark Ruffalo taking over as Hulk after Edward Norton‘s departure due to a heated disagreement over writer’s credits for Incredible Hulk. It was to be expected since both Norton and Eric Bana were scoffed at as well. Norton was slightly better received upon the release of the film, but ultimately fans weren’t pleased until Ruffalo’s performance in Avengers, which was notably different than previous incarnations, and had it’s own charm.
Now that the Hulk is back in the spotlight (for the better) it’s hard to say which way Marvel will take the character. Many have sounded off for a Planet Hulk/World War Hulk trilogy of films. While Ruffalo was originally signed for nine Marvel films, it’s hard to see them go that route. But more on that later. Let’s look at a few options Marvel could throw at us for Hulk’s next big screen solo venture! All of which stem from some of Hulk’s greatest story arcs.
The Indestructible Hulk
The most obvious choice, based on the recent Hulk run in the Marvel comic book universe, is The Indestructible Hulk. It’s really the most obvious progression. In this iteration of Hulk his not-so-secret identity Bruce Banner decides that the best thing for him to do is turn himself over to S.H.I.E.L.D. where he works for them as a literal “weapon” to be deployed at their discretion. In return he gets to have all the tools and resources he needs to create a legacy for himself.
With the way Avengers ended, its not hard to see how this could work. S.H.I.E.L.D. could keep Banner looking like a hero in the public eye, and also have him at their beck and call for any “Avengers” shenanigans. This also lends him plenty of time for character developing scenarios, and plenty of S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel cameos. It would definitely give Colbie Smulders more screen time as Maria Hill. We could possibly see Agent Coulson a little more often as well.
Another wise choice would be Planet Hulk. The story arc sees Earth’s heroes make a decision that may have been the hardest decision of their lives – Get rid of Bruce Banner. They do so by tricking him into helping S.H.I.E.L.D. With a space station problem, only to discover it’s not a space station, but a ship designed to take Banner (and by proxy, The Hulk) to a far off corner of the universe where he could wreak havoc, but do no harm. Unfortunately for Banner he winds up on a planet inhabited by a race of people and creatures that aren’t afraid of him, and he can even be harmed. He makes himself king of the planet… But how long can that last?
I’d love to see this arc play out on the big screen, but it’s highly unlikely we’ll see it anytime soon (if ever). It would require a lot of build up, which means more movies, and more movies means more time and money, and those don’t add up to anything remotely promising for the fans. I’m sure this is the first thing that comes to mind when you imagine future Hulk films, but who knows… Maybe Marvel will surprise us.
World War Hulk
You just can’t do Planet Hulk without following it up with World War Hulk. It could cost a metric butt load of money, but it would be a necessary action. World War Hulk finds our disgruntled titan preparing for war after the aftermath of Planet Hulk. Feeling betrayed by the people he once called friend (even more so than when he got tricked into going to the planet in the first place), he goes back to earth with an army at his back. Hulk wants blood, he wants revenge, and he wants it from each and every member of the Illuminati. The story takes us on a roller coaster ride of epic Hulk smashing proportions that sees the smack being laid down on everyone from Blackbolt and She Hulk to Iron Man and Doctor Strange.
Once again, this would be a hard one to pull off. The budget alone would be astronomical if Marvel were able to collect the talent and characters needed to pull it off. With some of the principle characters not in Marvel’s possession, this could be a tougher act to pull off on principle alone. If they could… and that’s a mighty big if… It could lead into a very interesting arc that involves…
We all know that General Thaddeus E. ”Thunderbolt” Ross only has two things he loves – his daughter (and Hulk’s wife) Betty Ross, and making Hulk’s life miserable. Hunting down and killing Hulk is Ross’ wet dream come true. Seriously. So what happens when he takes his vendetta too far? Red Hulk. Red Hulk is everything the Hulk is, but more in control. He’s cunning, tactical. He knows what he’s doing. He’s in full control… well, as much as a guy as angry as Ross can be. He goes on a tear by wreaking incredible havoc among Marvel‘s biggest and baddest heroes, and gives Hulk a run for his money. This is also a story that plants the seeds for Betty‘s turn as Red She-Hulk.
This could be one of the more interesting routes that Marvel could go with the Hulk franchise. The best part about this one is that they could even mix and match other aspects of the Hulk universe, namely the previously mentioned story lines, with this one. With the Red Hulk appearing after the events of Planet Hulk and World War Hulk, tying in the character would take little effort. Lets also try not to forget the current incarnation of the Thunderbolts, a team of questionable characters used to handle questionable and confidential situations for the U.S. Government. Ross leads that team now, alongside Elektra, Deadpool, Punisher, and others. Maybe this could open up the door?… Maybe not…
Maybe Marvel shouldn't jump right in to something we’re already familiar with… yet. Hulk is a very simple character, but he has a very complex history. Over complicating his story could be the very undoing of what Joss Whedon and Marvel were able to do with his character in Avengers. They took a “less is more” approach to his character and it paid off in spades. I’m more willing to trust Marvel with his big screen portrayal now that we’ve seen him pulled off effectively. Lets just hope they pleasantly surprise, instead of terribly shock us.
Personally, I'd love to see any one of these stories adapted for the big screen, but Marvel is playing this one close to the chest. There are so many good Hulk story lines to pick from, and not all of them made this list. Maybe you ladies and gentlemen can bring up some that I forgot to mention! Let me know which Hulk stories you’d like to see brought to the big screen!