IT’S BECOMING INCREASINGLY CLEAR that Marvel Studios has big plans for the Hulk. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) is set to play a major role in the upcoming Disney+ series, She-Hulk, which will introduce the character’s the similarly superpowered cousin, Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany). On its own, the mere existence of She-Hulk indicates that Marvel is planning on expanding its Hulk storylines. But She-Hulk isn’t the only Hulk-centric project that Marvel Studios is said to be developing right now. Their mysterious World War Hulk project has been rumored to be in the works for months now and is said to be a film adaptation of the World War Hulk comic book story. While Marvel has yet to confirm the project, the rumors have nonetheless captured the attention of comic book readers.
Marvel Studios may be inching closer to finally giving fans a proper World War Hulk live-action movie. After appearing as a co-star in several Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, Mark Ruffalo’s version of the Jade Giant is rumored to headline a World War Hulk film, adapting the Marvel comic event of the same name. If this rumor turns out to be true, we could see World War Hulk join either Phase 4 or 5 of the MCU.
One of the major sticking points for Marvel Studios developing a Hulk-centered feature film had to do with the character’s film rights. Universal Pictures has held the rights to any Hulk movies, with the last one coming in 2008’s Incredible Hulk. The belief was if Marvel decided to work on a film featuring the Hulk as the lead, the studio would have to share profits with Universal. However, the rumor of a 2022 start date for World War Hulk possibly means Universal has lost the rights, which means they would revert back to Marvel. Another example is the Netflix slate of street-level characters (Daredevil, Punisher, Kingpin, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist) returning to Marvel after having their rights at the streamer.
Marvel’s World War Hulk storyline came on the heels of Planet Hulk, which took the gamma-radiated hero to space. Of course, fans got to see a glimpse of that play out in 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok when Hulk faced the God of Thunder on Sakaar. As for World War Hulk, Bruce Banner’s alter ego returned to Earth determined to deliver revenge against his friends in the hero community who tried to exile him to the cosmos.
Mark Ruffalo is set to reprise his role as Bruce Banner/Hulk in the She-Hulk Disney+ series. Tatiana Maslany is playing Hulk’s cousin Jennifer Walters, with Tim Roth reprising his Incredible Hulk role as Abomination. Coincidentally, both Bruce Banner and Abomination had surprising appearances in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, providing another example of how the MCU is all connected.
WORLD WAR HULK MAY HAVE ALREADY STARTED
Hulk fans were rightfully pissed and confused as to what was going on with their “smash” -ing superhero when Bruce Banner turned into Smart Hulk in Endgame, all talking and brilliant, but a shell of the big green baddie who wanted nothing to do with “Hulk Smash!” At this point, World War Hulk was the last thing on fans’ minds.
It wasn’t as if an explanation wasn’t planned as to why Banner and Hulk merged. In fact, Banner/Smart Hulk gave a brief synopsis in Endgame that fans reluctantly had to accept – “Eighteen months in the gamma lab, I put the brains and the brawn together and now look at me. Best of both worlds.” Neutered.
Then came the surprising mid-credits scene in Shang-Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings. This brought together Shang-Chi (Simu Liu), Katy (Awkwafina), Wong (Benedict Wong), Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), and Bruce Banner (Ruffalo). What was most telling about this scene was that Banner appeared as himself and not the bespeckled green behemoth we had seen in previous films. Could it be? Would it be? Were there plans in the deep recesses of Marvel minds to start leading fans towards a World War Hulk?
WORLD WAR HULK RUMORS
Of course, nothing concerning World War Hulk is set in stone. In fact, the only thing we’ve got going here is She-Hulk and a few jaw-dropping rumors. Here’s what we got so far, nothing is close to being confirmed.
One anonymous user posted in a recent 4chan discussion the direction Marvel could be taking in terms of World War Hulk. According to this user, World War Hulk is happening, but it won’t be one movie, but two. The first movie has Hulk space-bound in search of his son, Skaar. The film will follow the how’s and why’s, laying out perfectly Hulk’s return to Earth.
The second part of the movie, so says the anonymous user, will bring together a number of MCU heroes that will include She-Hulk (Maslany), Captain Marvel (Larson), Captain America (Anthony Mackie), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), Sersi (Gemma Chan), Black Knight (Kit Harington) as well as a few others. This user also claims that not every hero will see the end of the film fighting Hulk.
That’s a lot to take in right there. This massive event, if true, is going to need a bit more to set up to make happen. So far, there has been no indication that Banner/Hulk needs to go. Will that happen in the course of the She-Hulk series? Is this where Marvel truly begins to lay the groundwork for a potential World War Hulk film? It would the perfect opportunity. We can only hope, wait and see.