Last week, Mark Ruffalo name-dropped Planet Hulk, and the internet nearly exploded. Don’t expect to see that anytime soon though. As it turns out though, making another Hulk movie would be way more complicated than you’d think.
What’s the issue?
In a follow-up interview clarifying his Planet Hulk remark, Ruffalo added that, “They don’t even have plans for [a Hulk movie] because they don’t even own the rights to yet, or anymore.”
That statement didn’t sound like it made much sense. After all, Marvel has featured Bruce Banner/Hulk in three Cinematic Universe movies so far. Surely they own the rights to the character, right?
Well, it turns out it’s a bit more complex.
Collider recently got a chance to speak to Ruffalo, where he explained the situation. In short, it’s Universal getting in the way of a new Hulk movie:
As far as a Hulk movie, a standalone Hulk movie, Marvel doesn’t really have the rights to that yet. That’s still Universal’s property, so there’s that issue. That’s a big impediment to moving forward with that. Now I don’t think that’s insurmountable, by the way, but I don’t know where it’s going from here for me.
Is this like the Sony situation?
It’s not quite as bad as it was with Sony and Spider-Man (although that’s since been resolved), or the situation with Fox and the X-Men and Fantastic Four properties.
In this case, Marvel is free to use the character in whatever they want, but if they choose to make a proper Hulk movie, Universal gets to step in and distribute it (taking a huge chunk of the proceeds with them).
That’s probably good news, since the Spider-Ma deal was (in theory) much harder to wrangle than just getting the distribution rights away from Universal. It’s not a sure-fire scenario, but it seems likely that if Disney wanted to, they could probably work something out.