3 Reasons Marvel Must Make Another ‘Hulk’ Solo Film

As Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) Marvel Cinematic Universe expands, one burning question is whether there will ever be a new solo film for the Hulk.

Actor Mark Ruffalo, who portrayed the Hulk in The Avengers, has confirmed Marvel has been considering a new Hulk solo film. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has also mentioned some ideas for the film before, including the popular Planet Hulk and World War Hulk comic book storylines, but nothing has been greenlit so far.

Source: Marvel.

Out of all the main Avengers characters, the Hulk has had the toughest time on the big screen, after two prior films struggled with balancing out Bruce Banner's relationship with his big green alter ego. Despite these issues, Marvel should still make a new solo Hulk film soon for three major reasons.

1. The Hulk is still a profitable beast
The first two Hulk films (Hulk, 2003 and The Incredible Hulk, 2008) were produced by Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA  ) Universal Studios. Both films were profitable -- the first film grossed $245 million on a budget of $137 million, while its sequel grossed $263 million on a budget of $150 million. Neither film bombed with critics -- the first film earned a 62% rating at Rotten Tomatoes while the sequel fared slightly better at 67%.

Yet despite the decent commercial and critical reception, both films fell flat with fans of the comic and the campy TV show. In the first film, director Ang Lee replaced the pulp factor with a deathly serious examination of Banner's psyche. Louis Leterrier's sequel, a narrative continuation of the first film, delivered better sequences of the Hulk smashing things, but it felt just as glum as its predecessor.

In 2006, Marvel regained the rights to the Hulk, and recast Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk in The Avengers. Unfortunately, Marvel seems unsure about how to proceed. The two storylines Feige mentioned -- Planet Hulk and World War Hulk -- wouldn't make sense as solo films, since the former stars the Hulk fighting in a gladiatorial arena on an alien world, while the latter turns Hulk into an enemy of the Avengers.

World War Hulk. Source: Marvel.

What Marvel should do is bring back director Edgar Wright, who left Ant-Man in May due to creative differences with the studio. His manic, comedic filmmaking style, as seen in The World's End and Shaun of the Dead, would be a perfect fit for a new solo film starring the Hulk.

2. Phase 3 needs a stronger opening
Ant-Man, which is now being directed by Yes Man director Peyton Reed, could have a tough time at the box office. Optimists think that Paul Rudd's sarcastic charm can carry the film, but pessimists think that the character's lack of mainstream recognition could hurt the franchise's chances of success. If Ant-Man bombs, it could derail subsequent Phase 3 films starring lesser-known characters, such as Dr. Strange.

In my opinion, a solo Hulk film, co-starring Ant-Man, could be the perfect launch title for Phase 3 following Avengers: Age of Ultron. Ant-Man would be the perfect adversary or partner for Hulk in a stand-alone film, since Ant-Man can transform into Giant-Man, a formidable physical match for Hulk, while still retaining his wits.

Would Hulk vs. Ant-Man be a better launch film for Phase 3? Source: Marvel.

Therefore, delaying Ant-Man's release in favor of a new solo Hulk film would be a more ideal opening to Phase 3.

3. Looking beyond Iron Man and Captain America
As we look beyond 2016, we see two other big problems -- the fact that Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Captain America (Chris Evans) could leave the Marvel universe.

Downey, who will turn 50 before Avengers: Age of Ultron is released in May 2015, has hinted that the film could be the last time he portrays Tony Stark. Downey's departure would hurt the future of Iron Man, but it could also resolve major pay disputes among the cast. Downey was reportedly paid $50 million for the first Avengers film (23% of the film's production budget), while other cast members were paid as little as $200,000. Mark Ruffalo's salary was estimated to be around $3 million.

Evans is signed on for three more films beyond Captain America: Winter Soldier (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America 3, and an unknown project), but there are persistent rumors that Steve Rogers could be killed off in Captain America 3 and replaced by the Winter Soldier, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan).

The Winter Soldier. Source: Marvel.

Therefore, a solo Hulk film series could offset the risks that Marvel faces with future installments of Iron Man and Captain America, as well as with lesser-known series like Guardians of the GalaxyAnt-Man, and Doctor Strange.

The Foolish takeaway
Marvel is understandably reluctant to take the plunge with a new Hulk film, especially when the last two films failed to generate box office returns on par with solo films starring Thor, Iron Man, or Captain America.

But I believe with the right writer, director, and cast, the Hulk could emerge as a new pillar of growth for Disney's Studio Entertainment segment, which accounts for roughly 15% of its top line and 14% of its bottom line.

So what do you think, fellow comic book film fans? Is it time to finally time for Marvel to give the green light to the green giant? Let me know in the comments section below!

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Read/Post Comments (8) | Recommend This Article (6)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On July 04, 2014, at 11:54 AM, bluedalek wrote:

    I disagree. Edgar Wright would be the worst thing for a Hulk movie. Robert Downy Jr. turning 50 is no big deal. He looks good.I enjoyed him in the role, but shocked he gets paid so much money to portray Iron Man, especially in this 0bama economy.

    I say give someone else a chance for less money.

    Evans was never my ideal Captain America. There were great people to select instead of this previous Human Torch. I do agree Ant Man and Wasp need their movie.

  • Report this Comment On July 04, 2014, at 1:01 PM, trueLuminus wrote:

    "Ant-Man would be the perfect adversary or partner for Hulk in a stand-alone film, since Ant-Man can transform into Giant-Man, a formidable physical match for Hulk, while still retaining his wits."

    What??? Giant-Man has zero chance in a match against the Hulk. Go rent the Avengers animated movie and see what the Hulk does to him.

  • Report this Comment On July 04, 2014, at 1:09 PM, jnh1969 wrote:

    Robert Downey Jr. IS signed up for Avengers 3. So we will have more Stark/Iron Man for awhile.

  • Report this Comment On July 04, 2014, at 3:56 PM, unclechubby wrote:

    How about Hulk and The Agents of Smash as a movie.

  • Report this Comment On July 04, 2014, at 5:40 PM, vocal75 wrote:

    I agree that if Ruffalo was cast into a new Hulk movie, that it would likely be a good move by Marvel. He was a popular character in the Avengers and with the right combination of humor and action, it would probably be a huge success. They way they paired Black Widow up with Captain America in the last movie worked well, so the idea of pairing the Hulk up with someone else might be exactly what the movie needs to launch well. I'm not so sure I'd pick Ant-man, but it could work as a Brains/Brawns combo (or, I guess Brains/Brains, if Banner is in control) and could be fun in the right story.

    In any case, the article seems to be right that Marvel needs to continuously draw in new actors and comicbook heroes in order to continue. They can't have a whole line-up of people paid like Tony Stark, er, I mean, like Downey.

    Well, so far they've hit a streak of homeruns with their movies, so if this continues, they'll probably be very willing to re-do another Hulk movie. Until then, we'll just have to be satisfied with seeing him SMASH in Avengers 2 :-)

  • Report this Comment On July 04, 2014, at 5:41 PM, delfra wrote:

    As @jnh1969 RDJ signed on to do both 'Avengers 2' & 'Avengers 3' and Evans is signed on for 'Cap 3' & 'Avengers 3' after 'Age Of Ultron'. Next time Leo Sun read up and research a little more before posting an article next time. You also need to keep in mind that BLACK PANTHER is a GREAT character and a superhero that make a for a strong addition to the MCU and great a great attraction to viewers on the big screen. And there is 'Ms. Marvel' and the Inhumans as well as strong possible additions to the MCU in the near future, so there is definitely more strong characters to use than what you're babbling on about. Now where is do agree with you to an extent is on 'Ant-Man', he will be a pretty weak kick off to start 'Phase 3' and I just don't know if his character is strong enough to carry his own film. Every character is not going to be 'Iron Man', 'Thor', 'Cap' and to a little lesser extent 'Hulk' where they can carry their own films. Some characters are just better being in only 'Avengers' films are appearing in other more popular heroes films, I think 'Ant-Man' is such a character. I do think another 'Hulk' film is needed but Marvel is doing right by not rushing to it, they need to jump to doing it immediately because someone like you is over anxious to see it, businesswise it wouldn't be a smart move. As far as I'm concerned 'Hulk' is the perfect position right now being a member of the 'Avengers'. Being seen only a few times in a team up film and carrying a whole film by yourself is two different things, remember that and THINK. Knowing that 'Ant-Man' & 'Cap 3' are the only confirmed films for 'Phase 3' so far, I would like to see the rest of the 'Phase 3' lineup look like this : 3)Dr. Strange, 4)Thor 3, 5)Black Panther, 6)Incredible Hulk 2, 7)The Avengers: The Infinity Gauntlet.

  • Report this Comment On July 05, 2014, at 4:53 AM, AudieMurphy wrote:

    You're right that Ant-Man is a weak idea, so why suggest matching him with the Hulk if he's been a weak performer so far? Putting Black Widow with Cap made sense for several reasons, comics history, no super-powers and inserting an award winning actress and sex symbol sells. Ant-Man with the Hulk does what? Being an unknown hero didn't stop the first Iron Man movie from being a success (he was unknown to the general public) because the character has a good growth arc for a movie, which is also the reason the next ones weren't any good. Either way, the story of the Hulk doesn't translate to film well. Lee tried to give the character a starting place but that didn't go over well and the second movie merely served as an excuse to let him break things. That works in comics but it doesn't give you a reason to watch a 2 hour $20 film. Write a story that gives Banner/Hulk a true character arc like Planet Hulk does and they'll be successful, that's tough with the Hulk but possible. Matching him up with someone or playing for laughs isn't going to cut it here. As for the rest, unfortunately the era of the superhero movie won't last forever in spite of all the studios best efforts. I've been a fan all my life, but just like westerns and crime dramas, it will go out of favor sooner or later and the big guys may keep going but in a few years I'd be surprised if there's an audience out there for an Ant-Man 2.

  • Report this Comment On July 05, 2014, at 11:35 AM, trestranpryat wrote:

    Hulk "sequel"? The studio had the hopes that everyone suddenly had a stroke & forgot about the Ang Lee film, then simply continued from there. Now, Ant-Man as an adversary for the Hulk is the worst idea possible, that fight would last 90 seconds tops! Let's take it in the opposite direction & that could work. If they make Scott Lang into a super genius inventor of the size altering process, then he could befriend Banner in the hopes to rid him of his gamma born alter ego. At the same time he could also side kick (like a Rick Jones) the Hulk. This gives you the opportunity to have the Hulk assist Lang in an experiment gone wrong that hurls the Hulk across the galaxy, thereby setting up the Hulk's anger toward the Avengers, as long as Ant-Man is added to the Avengers roster in his own movie & possibly a stray comment from Cap like "maybe you should do something about him" (Hulk). You can also add a previously established sense of trust between the two by having Lang be responsible for the Hulk's increase in intelligence. If it is all done in this way, you can avoid the need to establish the YEARS of Hulk rampages that had set the scene as the original reason why the Avengers sent him to outer space in the first place. This also gives you an easy way out. You can make 3 solo Hulk films right there! 1. Team-up, 2. Planet Hulk & 3. World War Hulk!

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