Will the Hulk ever go big at the box office?

NEW YORK • So where does the Incredible Hulk go from Ragnarok?

The success of Marvel Studios' not so jolly, green and gamma-radiated giant in Thor: Ragnarok as well as his guest appearances in past and future Avengers films have proven that the Hulk still has potential on the big screen.

What is not so clear is if the Hulk will continue to be the strongest guest star there is, or if he will once again star in his own movie as he did in the early days of Marvel Studios in The Incredible Hulk (2008) and Hulk (2003).

A quick Internet search can point you to the comments of actor Mark Ruffalo - the only actor who has played Bruce Banner/Hulk in multiple movies - who said in July that a Hulk movie will never happen because Universal does not want to play nice with Marvel Studios.

If Marvel wants to use the green giant in a movie, it must be in a guest star/team-up way.

If it wants to make a solo effort, Universal - which has the rights to a solo Hulk movie - would have to be involved.

Marvel has already proven it can share with others with its successful reboot of Spider-Man.

During the early days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), no one thought Spider-Man would be able to take part in an Avengers movie because the web-slinger's rights belonged to Sony.

 Ragnarok, which shows he still has potential on the big screen.
The Incredible Hulk enjoyed considerable success in Thor: Ragnarok, which shows he still has potential on the big screen. PHOTO: WALT DISNEY PICTURES 

But Marvel made a bold move to collaborate and Sony realised it was in danger of tarnishing a once indestructible superhero movie brand.

Both sides made it work.

You can almost understand Universal's hesitation to revisit the Hulk on film. Hulk movies are not a shining example of how to make a good superhero movie.

If there is one blip in the MCU, it is The Incredible Hulk. Not even Robert Downey Jr's post-credit appearance was enough to help.

And while the storyline moved the MCU-connected movieverse along, it did not leave anyone hungry for more Hulk.

It is possible that Universal feels there are no more Hulk stories to tell and that revisiting the character in a solo movie would produce more of the same ho-hum results.

But if that is the mentality, that just means that it does not have any comic-book people, such as Marvel does with head honcho Kevin Feige or Warner Bros/DC Entertainment does with Geoff Johns.

It is important to have people who know, love and, most importantly, care about these characters and can dive through a library's worth of stories to find the right one to adapt for both a superhero-loving and general audience.

If Universal did have such executives, or a passionate director such as, say, Wonder Woman's Patty Jenkins, it would realise there are a lot of potential options for a movie.

A piece to the Hulk movie-making puzzle is already there waiting in the MCU: William Hurt's Thaddeus Ross, Marvel Studios' military man who resurfaced as secretary of state in 2016's Captain America: Civil War.

And since the Planet Hulk comic-book storyline has already been used in Thor: Ragnarok, why not revisit one of the next best Hulk tales out there for a movie adaptation: the Red Hulk?

The Red Hulk is stronger and his brain increases in strength as well, causing him to retain his intelligence when he "hulks out".

His secret identity?

Ross, who has always hated the green Hulk and Banner equally. As much as people love watching the Hulk go berserk on screen, how great would it be seeing him going up against the Rulk (a horrible nickname, but great character)?

The grey Hulk could work too.

He is not as strong, but the much more intelligent Hulk appeared in Marvel Comics during the 1980s.

Everything is there to help the Hulk start smashing at the box office all by himself: the stories and the right actor.

But if a solo-Hulk movie is truly never meant to happen again, at least fans have the Avengers movies.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2017, with the headline 'Will the Hulk ever go big at the box office? '. Subscribe