Over the years, Marvel has made several attempts at a standalone movie for the Hulk, but none of them turned out to be a successful box office smash.
Bruce Banner was eventually reintegrated on the silver screen as part of a team-up in his first ensemble movie, when Mark Ruffalo was cast as both the scientist and the "other guy" in The Avengers back in 2012. But as far as solo films go, rights to the Hulk are still something of a tricky issue, and understandably a sensitive subject for Ruffalo, seeing as how Universal technically owns the character. It turns out, however, that Marvel is coming up with a clever workaround to give the Hulk his own story -- and it kicks off within the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok.
Speaking to Cinema Blend, Ruffalo revealed that the big green guy will have a definite arc spanning a trio of movies: Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War, and the as-of-now untitled Avengers 4. Ruffalo apparently conceived the story along with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige:
"So basically, Kevin [Feige] pulled me aside before this, and said, 'If you were gonna do a... if we were going to do a standalone Hulk movie, what would it be?' And I said, 'I think it should be this, this, this, and this and this, and ends up like this.' And he's like, 'I love that. Why don't we do that in the next three movies, starting with Thor 3 and then we go into Avengers 3 and 4.' And I was like, 'That sounds great!' And so we are at the beginning of this arc."
According to Ruffalo, Thor: Ragnarok will introduce an entirely new narrative for the Hulk's character development, and there's a big reason why he finally speaks more than one or two words this time around:
"Hulk speaking is the start to separating of these two individuals, these identities in this split-identity person, and where that's going to end up going. So it was really interesting to me. He's like a baby! He's like a five-year-old or six-year-old. So he has the same syntax, he has the same world view, and so it was fun. It's like Chris [Hemsworth] -- we all got to reinvent our characters in this."
Although the Hulk may not have the opportunity to successfully bust into theaters under his own moniker any time soon, we can at least look forward to seeing some interesting growth and character progression in the MCU for the foreseeable future.
Thor: Ragnarok premieres in theaters on Nov. 3.