Ever since Mark Ruffalo took to the stage at San Diego Comic-Con 2010 alongside the full cast of [The Avengers](movie:9040) and was officially announced to be playing Bruce Banner in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, fans have wondered if and when Ruffalo’s Banner would get a chance leading a third Hulk movie. That curiosity turned into legitimate discussion when the Hulk became a fan-fave thanks to The Avengers hitting theaters in 2012 and becoming the third top-grossing film of all-time.
There was just something special to seeing Hulk smashing on Captain America’s (Chris Evans) orders and Banner and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) sharing lab space and techy banter (the “science bros.”). With Ruffalo having signed a six-picture deal with Marvel Studios and The Avengers 1 & 2 writer-director Joss Whedon “believing” in the character – and happy to have him sort of exclusively for [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](movie:293035) – Ruffalo cannot avoid being grilled on the subject everywhere he makes an appearance.
We already know the Hulk will get even more screentime in his Age of Ultron return and there were rumors in early 2013 that this movie could launch (literally) Hulk into a position where he’d get a Planet Hulk/World War Hulk storyline from the comics and potentially, a new solo movie. That story from the comics essentially involves Hulk losing control and Earth’s heroes feeling they have no other choice but to launch him into space. He lands on an alien planet (of a species featured in next month’s Guardians of the Galaxy movie, no less) and becomes a gladiator, fighting in a Roman-style arena. Without getting into too much detail, some bad stuff happens and Hulk comes back to Earth on a mission of vengeance.
At the time, Ruffalo and Whedon shot down the rumors, but just last week Ruffalo went on record hinting that Marvel is indeed considering a new Hulk film. Of course, he can’t tell us either way even if they were, but chances are Ruffalo and Whedon have a pretty good idea of where Bruce Banner and “The Other Guy” are headed given that producer and Marvel Studios president of production has mapped out the Marvel Cinematic Universe all the way to 2028.
Ruffalo’s latest thoughts on the next Hulk movie are that it shouldn’t be about Planet Hulk though, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get something similar or parts of those storylines adapted…
The most identifiable trait for Bruce Banner is his inner battle with himself over control. When he loses control, he becomes the “enormous green rage monster.” Neither Banner or Hulk has full control at any time but since we’ve seen this battle play out multiple times, there’s only so much that can be done with that plot device, which lead many to believe Hulk’s best utilized as a supporting character. Despite Banner seemingly gaining a semblance of control over his anger issues and his alter ego at the end of The Avengers, it’s a safe bet he can’t keep that up in Age of Ultron. That just wouldn’t be fun and everyone wants to see the Hulkbuster in action.
According to HitFix, who shared some spoilers behind a lot of what Mark Ruffalo has been dancing around in interviews, there’s a way to use Ruffalo/Hulk as a supporting character and still do something similar to Planet Hulk.
* Final Warning: Major Spoilers Ahead *
HitFix claims that the third act of Age of Ultron, which of course involves a final confrontation with Ultron (James Spader), also sees Banner on The Avengers’ new Quinjet leaving Earth’s orbit with no way to stop it or turn it around. HitFix speculates that this could feasibly lead to Hulk meeting up with the Guardians of the Galaxy and that event could be the bridge which sees the Guardians and Hulk return to Earth in time for The Avengers 3, likely in 2018, very likely bringing the big bad villain Thanos to Earth as well. This is how you get the very large team-up of The Avengers and Guardians against Thanos.
Much of that is speculation, and all of it is unverified at this point, but we’ve long heard reports and rumors of how The Avengers 2 will re-position Hulk in an important way, similar to how it’ll serve as a launchpad for other characters and their stories (i.e. [Captain America 3](movie:994409) and Thor 3).
It’s very unlikely that if Hulk were to get another movie that it’d happen anytime soon, and almost certainly it wouldn’t fit into Phase 3 which is quickly running out of release dates. The running assumption is that The Avengers 3 is coming in 2018, and since we know Captain America 3 and Doctor Strange are coming in 2016, that leaves Thor 3 and one unknown for 2017 which is going to be a new property (The Inhumans or [Black Panther](movie:9047)or something else). But if there’s no hulk, where does that leave him and the Guardians before The Avengers 3? Could that tie into 2017′s mystery movie or could the third Avengers team-up taking another year to fit another pair of movies in?
Share your thoughts in the commments!