Poor Hulk, just like in the comics he's had a pretty rough ride of it in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, at least he's gotten his own solo movie though - even if it didn't feature Mark Ruffalo as everybody's favourite green Jekyll and Hyde.
Though I was a fan of the films, I've been less so of his characterisation in them. During The Avengers Hulk was used almost as comic relief, and there wasn't really enough time to get into the particulars of his character due to the large central cast. Which is a real shame as both Banner and the Hulk are really interesting characters when done right.
Anyway, if you've seen [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035) you'll know that he has a bit more of a role in that one and if you haven't seen it then beware, there are spoilers ahead.
Age of Ultron saw a slightly clearer explanation for the control Banner found over the Hulk persona, as he has now forged a connection with Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow) which allows her to affect the changing of his personality. This all ties into the romantic subplot between them, which was kinda weird but okay I'm not opening that can of worms right now.
In the aftermath of the battle in Sokovia the Hulk (not Bruce Banner - that's an important distinction to make) leaves in the untraceable Quinjet, breaking the plans Banner and Romanoff had made to run away together after Ultron's defeat. Hulk shuts off communication with her and at the conclusion of the film Nick Fury tells her that the jet landed near Fiji, but Banner's whereabouts are unknown. Kind of a dick move there Hulk, but I guess we understand why you did it.
Where he ended up though, that's a matter of much contention as he's currently not expected to show up again until [The Avengers: Infinity War](tag:738027) in 2018. Boo.
Captain America: Civil War
So it turns out that Hulk was originally supposed to be involved in [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409) but now he’s being saved for a later surprise, according to Ruffalo himself...
"The reason [for Hulk's disappearance] is too great to be revealed in [Civil War]. I was in the script but then they removed my character. They don’t want to reveal where is he and why. I don’t even know if Hulk will be back soon."
When the actor is saying he doesn't even know when he'll be back you know it's probably going to be a while. We're still three years away from Infinity War and whilst we don't have any solidly confirmed cast yet, Kevin Feige has said that Hulk will appear in Infinity War Pt 1.
The real question is, if we don't see him again until then, will we ever get to find out just what happened after Ultron? If you're holding your breath for a solo venture don't because you'll probably pass out and hit your head or something.
"What happens with a standalone Hulk film? I’m going to say what I would have said about Black Panther last week, or Captain Marvel the week before that, or Doctor Strange the week before that, or Guardians of the Galaxy two years ago, or Ant-Man 10 years ago: we’ll see. We’d love to do it, we’d love to find a place to put it, but right now Hulk will be appearing with his friends in the other films."
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2?
Hulk's disappearance at the end of Age of Ultron set the rumour mill into overdrive, and a popular theory that's still getting tossed around is that we'd see him making an appearance in [Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2](tag:1081113) as part of the Planet Hulk storyline from the comics.
This theory persisted as, during Age of Ultron, Banner asked the question, "Where in this world am I not a threat?". This was interpreted by many to mean that he'd go off-world (though he didn't really have a choice in Planet Hulk - shot into space by the Illuminati for being too dangerous to remain on Earth).
Anyway, James Gunn has firmly put his foot down about this a few times now, stating that there is "zero chance" Hulk will make an appearance in the Guardians universe - for now anyway.
In fact, if the intention was to reintroduce Hulk/Banner prior to Infinity Wars they could do a lot worse than including him in the upcoming Doctor Strange - the casting for which is still being locked down.
Hulk/Banner and Doctor Stephen Strange have a long, mostly friendly history. Like all friends they've had their fallings out though, like when Strange was part of the plan to shoot Hulk into space kicking off the whole Planet Hulk debacle. And then that time he had his hands broken by Hulk during the proceeding World War Hulk which led to him relinquishing his Sorcerer Supreme title (see image above). That'll teach you not to shoot folk into space Strange.
Anyway regardless of all that Banner and Strange have been fairly consistent buddies, so it wouldn't be a huge leap to see Bruce Banner checking in during Doctor Strange. However, since it looks like it's going to be an origin story for Strange this might make Hulk's appearance less likely. But we live in hope. Hell, at this point we'd take a post-credits cameo.