Now that the dust has settled (reformed?) after Avengers: Endgame and Marvel has revealed its Marvel Phase 4 slate, the question about where the MCU goes next has been answered with a smorgasbord of films and TV shows on the soon- to-be-launched Disney Plus service. But one seemingly still-active Avenger is conspicuously absent from the line-up: Hulk.
Perhaps that isn’t surprising, given the chequered cinematic past of the not-so-jolly green giant. Between the Lou Ferrigno TV movies, Ang Lee’s much-maligned 2003 effort starring Eric Bana and the MCU’s own, Edward Norton-fronted The Incredible Hulk (regularly found lurking at the lower end of any Marvel-movie ranking), it’s arguable that we’ve never had a great standalone Hulk outing.
Despite this, the character continues to be much-loved, due in no small part to Mark Ruffalo’s performances as both Banner and the beast (as well as fan- favourite moments including the “puny god” Loki-bashing of Avengers Assemble, or Ragnarok’s “friend from work” smackdown). His most recent incarnation as Professor Hulk, plus the fact that Ruffalo’s contract reportedly has one more film to
go, suggests there’s mileage in the character yet. But should the Big Green get another shot at his own movie?
I’d argue not. Hulk is most effective when part of a team, something that’s served the him well thus far, and there are tantalising combinations as yet untapped: for example, Banner being schooled by Shuri in Infinity War suggests a supporting role in Black Panther 2; further comedy beats in the Taika Waititi-helmed in Thor: Love And Thunder would be welcome; and if there’s another Ant-Man movie, Banner has demonstrated himself to be an expert in the Quantum Realm. And finally, of course, there’s the upcoming She-Hulk series, where a Banner cameo seems all but given.
Endgame drew a line in the sand, with the OG Avengers largely bowing out to make way for new blood. As such, it makes sense that Hulk shouldn’t take a leading role again, but instead act as connective tissue, supporting the Universe as it continues to move forward. Or is it just me?
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