ByJerome Maida, writer at
Jerome Maida

While Marvel Studios surprised everyone by unveiling what appears to be their ENTIRE slate of films from 2016-2019, fans of two characters were disappointed.

Better put, fans of two extremely popular characters were disappointed - [Black Widow](movie:1070824) and the Hulk.

No "Black Widow" solo film with Scarlett Johansson in kick-butt mode is on the horizon. Neither is a "Planet Hulk" film - or another solo Hulk film of any kind - according to Marvel Studios Head Honcho Kevin Feige.

Sorry, I'm not buying it.

No way am I buying that Marvel is going to stick two of their more popular film characters in supporting roles for the rest of the decade.

I think this has more to do with Feige not wanting to reveal major developments with the characters in "Avengers: Age of Ultron" AND that he wants to save a few major announcements in the years to come.

First, let's take a look at his quotes from the big event Tuesday regarding Black Widow.

Black Widow, Feige said “couldn’t be more important as an Avenger, but like Hulk the Avengers films will be the films where they play a primary role,” Feige said. He noted that Tuesday's announcement was“about bringing new characters to the screen.” Similar to what was said about her role in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier", Feige again said her role in the ensemble movie Avengers: Age of Ultron is important and as “a linchpin.”
”[Her role] is very, very big and further develops her character. The plans we have for her through the rest of the Avengers saga are very big and she is a linchpin, in fact, to those films,” Feige told everyone. “So instead of taking her out there or doing a prequel which we haven’t done yet, we’re continuing the forward momentum of the continuity of the Cinematic Universe, of which Widow is a key part.”

I still think this is misdirection regarding Widow. How can she be a "linchpin" in, say, "Captain America 3: Civil War", when she will, at best, play fourth fiddle to the title character, RDJ's Iron Man and the much-anticipated first screen appearance of Chadwick Boseman - all of whom appeared on stage together. If other characters get involved, it further dilutes her impact.

What other films does it make sense to have her play a major role in? Hanging with the Gods in "Thor 3: Ragnarok"? In the supernatural world of "Doctor Strange"? "Captain Marvel"? [Black Panther](movie:9047)? Sorry, I don't see any natural fits there.

I think more than ever that Black Widow is going to die in ""Avengers: Age of Ultron". That would be one way to make her a linchpin. For everyone to know that they're not fighting for fun. That the stakes are real.

In which case a "Black Widow" prequel film would make perfect sense - and an announcement that would make Hall H explode.

If she doesn't die, I see her leaving and going on her own. Marvel Studio could then have her in a "Bourne"-style adventure. In which case a surprise solo film announcement would still make perfect sense.

Then there's the Hulk. His exclusion arguably makes less sense. He is a character kids know from comics, cartoons, the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno TV show and neither of his previous films were bombs - Ed Norton's "The Incredible Hulk" did $134.8 million domestically and that's $152.4 million in today's dollars.

When you factor in the Marvel brand is much stronger now, especially overseas, and that they seem to have a Hulk that they - and audiences - are happy with in Mark Ruffalo, it makes no sense to have him as a guest-star in other people's films for the rest of the decade.

But listen closely to what Feige said Tuesday.

"[Hulk] is going to appear in many of the movies announced today," Feige said. He noted that actor Mark Ruffalo is “on board” for those movies, as well. It is interesting to not he said "many" and not simply "the Avengers movies," meaning we could see Hulk show up in other films, as well. However, he was much less committal about any stand-alone film. "We’ll see. We’d love to do it."

I don't see how what Feige says is plausible. Why would he appear in "Captain Marvel"? To show how tough he is? How can Hulk appear in "Thor: Ragnarok"? How can he appear in "Captain America: Civil War"? In the comic book "Civil War", neither of them were around because they are both too powerful, they could easily sway the outcome of the conflict.

Thor was deceased (he got better).

The Hulk? He had been sent off-planet in what would become the "Planet Hulk" story line.

Which is what I think is going to happen here. Hulk is mad at Tony and causes an incredible amount of destruction. Tony and others agree the best thing to do is send him somewhere where he will be safe and where others will be safe from him.

At the end of "[The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](movie:293035)", Hulk is shown sent away.

Then Kevin Feige will make the announcement that "Planet Hulk" will indeed be a reality in San Diego.

What do all of you think?


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