The film that concluded Marvel’s epic Infinity Saga — 2019’s Avengers: Endgame — ends with, among other things, the Incredible Hulk’ arm mangled after using the Infinity Stones to restore all the lives snuffed by Thanos’ infamous snap in Avengers: Infinity War. But apparently, Mark Ruffalo’s time smashing in the MCU not only isn’t done, he may be gearing up to be one of its antagonists.
A new report from We Got This Covered suggests that in spite of the long bemoaned distribution rights issue between Disney and Universal, Marvel Studios is actively developing a World War Hulk film which would presumably star Mark Ruffalo as the character he’s portrayed ever since 2012’s Avengers.
While you may be well-advised to take any rumors with a grain of salt, this report seems to be part of a series of reports from various sources about Mark Ruffalo’s character. In May, we received word from an insider that a Hulk solo movie was in development. Then in June reports surfaced that the Hulk’s personality was going to undergo a major change, presumably as part of his appearance in the upcoming She-Hulk miniseries. Specifically, the rational Professor Hulk persona would be discarded for a more enraged version of the character; possibly something along the lines of the Hulk we see in 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok.
A less friendly version of the Hulk could very well lead to Mark Ruffalo starring in World War Hulk. The name comes from a 2007 Marvel Comics event in which the Hulk and his alien allies wage war on Earth’s heroes including the Avengers, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and more.
As We Got This Covered points out, an MCU version of the event starring Mark Ruffalo would likely be much different than the source material. In the comics, “World War Hulk” springs directly from the “Planet Hulk” storyline which sees the Hulk exiled to space by Marvel’s Illuminati — Black Bolt, Doctor Strange, Iron Man, and Mister Fantastic. At the end of “Planet Hulk,” the ship that the heroes trapped Hulk in explodes, killing millions on Sakaar, including Hulk’s new alien wife Caiera. Believing the Illuminati are responsible for the ship’s detonation, Hulk returns to Earth for vengeance. Since elements of “Planet Hulk” were already used in Thor: Ragnarok, the same setup couldn’t work in the MCU, though that hardly matters. After all, 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron is named for the 2013 comics event “Age of Ultron,” which bears little resemblance to the film, beyond Ultron appearing in both.
Another possibility that could explain this news is that Disney is banking on the upcoming She-Hulk Disney+ series to renew interest in Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk. In spite of what essentially has become an unquestioned fact in terms of the lack of another solo Hulk film — that it revolves solely around Universal’s claim to distribution rights — in 2015 Mark Hughes wrote a piece for Forbes questioning the assumption. Hughes points out not only Disney’s deal with Sony regarding the Spider-Man films, but that long before that — with the exception of 2012’s Avengers — all of the MCU Phase 1 films were distributed by Paramount. The reason they haven’t made a solo Hulk film, Hughes argues, is simply because they’re not confident in the character as a solo franchise. If Hughes is correct and Disney’s outlook has since changed, it could explain a lot.