Much has been made of how Hulk practically stole the show in The Avengers. The character, which struggled to connect with audiences in two standalone films with drastically different creative goals, was a huge part of what made The Avengers special in the eyes of fans. Ever since, questions have sprung up about whether or not there'd be a third attempt at giving the big green guy his own series of films.
Well, in a recent interview with Collider, Ruffalo sheds some light on a little-discussed roadblock in getting that done: Universal still owns the rights to the character.
All this time, we assumed that Hulk had been fully reverted "back home" to Marvel. As it turns out, the terms of deal dictate that he's free to appear in team-up movies but- as far as standalone Hulk movies are concerned- is still a Universal property.
In the actor's own words:
"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."
As far as how many more times we can expect to see Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk, the actor has much more optimistic news on that front:
"I think it’s four now, but that could always go further. That could include different—I could show up in another character’s movie; I could do Avengers 3 and 4; I could do a Hulk standalone; I could do a combination of those things. That’s four or five, I think."
So that's four or five more times we can see this version of Hulk...smash. Could Captain America: Civil War be one of those times?
"I don’t know if I’m in it yet. I don’t know. Sometimes these things happen at the last minute in this world. I really don’t know where I fit in from here on out, and I’m not sure they do."
The last part of that answer is telling. Because while Marvel has been lauded for having a grand master plan with its phases, seeds planted, and multi-tiered storytelling structure, when it comes to Hulk it sounds they're totally unsure about how to proceed.