(Warning - SPOILERS for Avengers: Age of Ultron, and potentially for Captain America: Civil War (and beyond) lie below. Proceed with caution...)
Now, from the sounds of Marvel's recent casting confirmation, Captain America: Civil War isn't going to be short of superheroes. After all, we already know that Cap, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Falcon, War Machine, Black Panther, Ant-Man and (most likely) Spider-Man are all set to appear.
That being said, though - there's one hero (Ragnarok-ing Thor aside) who we didn't seem likely to see: The Hulk. Last seen flying off into the sunset at the close of Avengers: Age of Ultron, and then possibly crash-landing in the ocean, it seemed that Bruce Banner and his rage-induced alter-ego were set to take a break from the big-screen.
Except, of course:
Mark Ruffalo Just Teased an Appearance from Hulk in Captain America: Civil War
And, better still, he did it in classic Mark Ruffalo fashion - awesomely, yet enigmatically, on social media:
Now, of course, that might just be Ruffalo talking up a movie starring a whole lot of his friends - though, if that was indeed the case, the substantial delay between the original casting confirmation last week and his eventual post would seem a little...unusual.
Instead, then, it sure does seem as though the Hulk is on his way to Civil War, which opens up one big question:
What the Heck Is Hulk's Role Going to Be?
After all, he wasn't actually around for the original comic-book Civil War - so if he does indeed turn up on-screen, all bets are off.
The answer, it seems to me, may well be the combination of one recently confirmed piece of casting, one cameo appearance years in the making, one long-running rumor, and one potential post-credits scene to die for.
We Know 'Thunderbolt' Ross Will Be Appearing
Specifically, as was confirmed by that recent casting announcement, we're set to see William Hurt reprise his role as General 'Thunderbolt' Ross in the movie.
And, seeing as Ross and Banner have an entire Incredible Hulk movie's worth of history, it's not too surprising that the two could interact on screen in Civil War.
Which, in turn, means:
We Might See a Classic Villain, Too
Remember Abomination, The Incredible Hulk's main villain, and 'Thunderbolt' Ross' worst idea since taking up smoking?
Well, there's been talk of him re-appearing in the MCU for a long, long time now - and the combination of Ross' appearance and Tony Stark's potential need for warm bodies to fight in the civil war may well give him a reason to turn up once again.
Which Is Where That Rumor Comes In
Remember all that talk about Hulk being sent into space at the end of Age of Ultron, and of an eventual Planet Hulk movie?
Well, the odds of us actually seeing Planet Hulk on screen anytime soon seem pretty slim, but there is still a good chance of Hulk taking (space)flight.
In fact, it's entirely possible that 'Thunderbolt' Ross (and potentially Abomination, too) may be appearing in Civil War with exactly that intention - and that the movie may culminate (or even begin) with Hulk being involuntarily shipped off to outer space.
Which Could Set Up Something Pretty Wonderful
Specifically, a post-credits scene the likes of which we haven't seen in years - one in which everyone leaves the theater with teeth-chattering levels of excitement.
Y'see, if Hulk does indeed get sent to space - there's every chance we could see him running into a certain gang of galaxy-guarding scoundrels. Perhaps a rapidly-running out of oxygen Banner, sitting alone in a space-ship, making his peace with death - who's interrupted by a smart-alec raccoon turning up on his communications screen...
After all, if there's one way to guarantee that Guardians of the Galaxy 2 will out-perform the original, it's to add a distinctly irritable Hulk to the mix, and if there's one way to tease that for maximum effect, it'd be in a post-credits scene attached to what'll surely be a huge, huge box-office success.