There is so much talk online about phase 3 of MCU, this talk has been almost constant since Marvel revealed it’s upcoming lineup of films for the next few years. One thing I see over and over is how upset people are that Hulk & Black Widow aren’t getting their own solo films (at least not before phase 4). I am not one of those people and this is why.
The hulk is a pretty famous character, probably one of the most recognizable in the Marvel Universe. Even if you don’t know much about comics or have seen only a select few of movies, most people still know who he is. He is a scientist who you won’t like when he’s angry because he turns into (in the words of Tony Stark) “a big green rage monster”. Now just because people know who he is does not mean that a solo film would be a success at this point.
Lets trace back in time shall we.
In 2003 Eric Bana starred in “Hulk” which was an origin story of sorts, similarly to Captain America: The First Avenger & Ironman it showed what happened to cause Banners transformation. Now unlike Captain America & Ironman it didn’t do so well at the box office earning $132,177,234 compared to Ironman’s $318,412,101, Captain America was closer with $176,794,500. Not only was it not as big of a hit with the boxoffice it was also sort of a flop when it came to fans as well.
Then we move on to 2008 and the beginning of the MCU, scratching the failure of 2003’s hulk (although 2008’s was a semi-sequel) and starting a new. This movie brought with it a new Bruce Banner played by Edward Norton (which would seem to be promising) however, the story lacked a certain something present in other MCU films. Raking in $151,704,700 in the same year that Ironman was released making the amount listed above, it was kind of like MCU’s mistake.
Hulk returned in 2012, played this time by Mark Ruffalo, and everyone loved him. The difference this time was that he was a supporting role of sorts in Avengers. Along side of other heroes such as Thor, Ironman, Captain America etc. etc. In a team atmosphere it worked. A lot of people talk about their favourite scenes in the movie, most of which the Hulk played a major role such as when he beat the crap out of Loki or when he scared Tony back to life.
So why is it that the hulk was so much more loved in Avengers than in his solo films? Was it the actor? Not necessarily, I love Edward Norton, I think he is a phenomenal actor. No, it’s because there is not enough to work with to do a solo Hulk film. Now i’m not saying there’s not enough source material because Hulk comics have been around since 1962 so obviously there is a lot of material to draw from. & the comics are good, don’t get me wrong, the tv show and animated series have had major success. When it comes to the movies, there needs to be intriguing villains, like Loki, or an interesting historical context like war (Ironman & Captain America) or something that completely links to the other aspects of MCU like the winter solider did with it’s connection to not only the first movie but also to AoS or the appearance of Howard Stark in First Avenger or a comedic factor (which we get everytime there is a new iron man movie because RDJ is hilarious.)
So if we look at the other two films we don’t really get that. Sure the abomination was a cool villain in the incredible hulk, but not to the extent of Loki or even Whiplash. Hulk (2003) wasn’t apart of MCU so it makes sense it didn’t connect, but all we got in the incredible hulk was a few little Easter eggs and Tony showing up at the end making a random remark referring to the avengers.
Just because the first two didn’t pan out doesn’t mean another one couldn’t right? I don’t know, personally I think that the way Marvel is doing it is the way to go. His story is known, he’s been introduced, and obviously the character is more enjoyable in a group context than in a solo film. The story is fine for a half hour to an hour television show or a comic but when it comes to the big screen they need something to hold the viewers’ attention and it doesn’t seem like the hulk has that. I do love him, don’t get me wrong, and I think Mark is doing a tremendous job, I just think another film would be redundent and boring, right now Marvel has the opportunity to introduce more characters and that is what they are doing and I think it is the best decision that could be made.
Nobody at Marvel has explicitly stated that the hulk WON’T eventually get another solo film but when asked in an interview if it was a possibility this was Joss Whedon’s response.
“Yes. But it would be very, very hard. Hulk is a tricky son of a bitch. He’s the Claudio of superheroes. Because the problem is it’s a very popular character, but it’s not a superhero. Half of it’s a superhero, half of it’s a werewolf. And you can’t structure it like a superhero movie, you can’t light it like a superhero movie. How do you develop that? It would be extremely difficult. The one thing you would have in your favour would be Mark Ruffalo. But right now I don’t know if they have plans to do that or not, because he works so well as part of a greater whole, but by himself, it’s tough. I don’t envy the guys who went before.”
I am however, extremely excited to hear that he will be getting a larger part in Age of Ultron, not only is he featured more in the trailer, Mark Ruffalo also has stated that he would be getting a bigger role in the storyline this time. I’m very excited about AoU and think Marvel is doing a great job at how they are structuring their universe.
For more Marvel related posts/rants/predictions/reviews & previews check out my Marvel Monday Series.