Hulk Smash!

Marvel leak reveals the studio's most surprising Phase 4 sequel

Is Marvel planning something big for The Hulk?

Mark Ruffalo may be one of the core cast members of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but he has yet to headline his own Marvel Studios film. That’s because, due to some frustrating behind-the-scenes rights issues, 2008’s Edward Norton-led The Incredible Hulk is the only MCU film about Bruce Banner.

For years, Marvel and Ruffalo have blamed Universal Pictures, which has held onto the rights to make Hulk movies, for the lack of Bruce Banner-centric projects within the MCU. However, a new, alleged leak suggests that Marvel may no longer have to worry about making its own Hulk movie.

A Smashing Idea — TheGWW.com reports that Marvel Studios is developing a World War Hulk standalone film, with production slated to begin sometime in late 2022. The outlet says that the film will take place after the events of the She-Hulk Disney+ series, which will feature Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner in a supporting role. The report makes no mention of who may be involved in the project.

If this report is correct, that would suggest Marvel Studios has regained the rights to make its own Hulk movies from Universal, which has been rumored in the past but has yet to be officially confirmed. With that in mind, make sure to take this report and its claims as lightly as possible, as there has been little indication up to this point that Marvel is developing a new Hulk movie.

Of course, that doesn’t mean there isn’t actually a World War Hulk project in development right now.

The Hulk unleashing a devastating attack in World War Hulk Vol. 1 #1. Published in 2007.Marvel Comics

World War Hulk, Explained — World War Hulk is a 2007 comic book storyline that essentially picks up where the events of the Planet Hulk story — which was partially adapted in Thor: Ragnarok — left off.

Angered about being banished from Earth by the Illuminati, World War Hulk follows Bruce Banner as he returns to Earth with a group of Sakaaran refugees known as the Warbound. Seeking revenge for both his banishment and the Illuminati’s apparent involvement in the deaths of his family, the storyline sees The Hulk going toe-to-toe with the various members of the group, including Tony Stark, Doctor Strange, and Mister Fantastic.

It’s an epic and devastating comic arc — one that could very easily be adapted for the big screen. With The Illuminati rumored to be coming to the MCU sometime soon as well, the door may be open for a conflict to break out between them and Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk. That’s assuming that the studio would want to stay somewhat faithful to the original World War Hulk storyline, which is an admittedly big assumption given how much the studio has changed certain comic book stories over the years for the MCU.

Additionally, there is also no telling how a World War Hulk storyline could tie into the events of She-Hulk, which has been billed as a half-hour legal comedy starring Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer Walters (aka the show’s titular character). Then again, his brief appearance in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has already proven just how much we don’t know about Marvel’s current plans for Bruce Banner.

Gladiator Hulk, as seen in Thor: Ragnarok.Marvel Studios

The Inverse Analysis — Over the years, Marvel Studios and Mark Ruffalo have attempted to work around their inability to make standalone Hulk movies by telling the character’s ongoing arc through his supporting appearances in various MCU titles. The results of that strategy have been varied — even if the direction the character has taken in recent years has also been genuinely surprising at times.

Meanwhile, a solo Hulk film — especially a World War Hulk movie — would give both Marvel and Ruffalo the chance to explore the character more deeply than they ever have before. There’s no question about that. The only unclear thing about any of this is if Marvel is developing a new Hulk film or not, but we’ll have to wait to find out the answer to that million-dollar question.