Why hasn’t Hulk received another solo movie? Ask Marvel, says a new report

oscar effects avengers hulk fire
Given the tremendous success of Marvel’s cinematic universe so far, there’s been no shortage of questions regarding the future of the Avengers’ green Goliath, The Hulk, and whether he’d ever get another solo movie. While rumors have suggested that there might be some issues with the rights to the character, a new report confirms that Hulk’s big-screen future is securely in the hands of Marvel Studios.

Back in April, Marvel franchise actor Mark Ruffalo made headlines when he indicated that the reason we haven’t seen a Hulk solo movie since he took over the character in The Avengers is due to Universal Pictures still owning the rights to the character. Not so, according to a new report published by Forbes that confirms Marvel’s ownership of the film production rights to Hulk and clarifies exactly what Universal does own, and why it is Marvel’s decision — and Marvel’s decision alone — not to let Hulk fly (or rather leap) solo again.

According to the report, Universal relinquished its film production rights to Hulk in 2005 after declining to produce a sequel to Ang Lee’s 2003 film Hulk. Around that time, the film rights to Hulk — as well as Captain America, Iron Man, and other characters owned by various studios — all reverted back to Marvel over the course of several years, setting the stage for what would become Marvel’s ambitious cinematic universe lineup.

However, while the film rights to Hulk rest with Marvel, the distribution rights to films featuring the character still rest with Universal, and give Universal the right to “first refusal” on future solo movies. This means that, if Marvel decided to make a new movie featuring Hulk, Universal would have the right to distribute it (instead of Disney) and could either decline, handle the distribution of the film, or (more likely) work out a deal with Marvel that would be mutually beneficial for both studios in the long run.

As the article points out, Universal’s ownership of the distribution rights to Hulk is far from a deal-breaker for Hulk’s corporate caretakers at Marvel and Disney, who worked out a distribution deal with Paramount Pictures for Iron Man 2 when the rights to that character were still owned by Paramount. More recently, Marvel and Disney managed to arrange a deal with Sony Pictures, which owns a considerably larger chunk of the rights to Spider-Man, in order to produce the upcoming Spider-Man reboot.

So what is stopping Marvel from making another movie featuring Hulk front and center? The performance of the previous solo films is the most likely culprit.

In two attempts at producing a Hulk solo movie, neither 2003’s Hulk nor 2008’s The Incredible Hulk managed to rake in enough box-office revenue in the U.S. to cover their production budgets. Both films failed to hit the $150 million mark domestically, and earned an average of $254 million worldwide together — making them the two lowest-grossing movies in Marvel’s cinematic universe so far by a wide margin. (Note: While the 2003 film isn’t actually part of the Marvel cinematic universe, it’s being included for comparison’s sake here.)

Still, with Hulk’s profile raised quite a bit in recent years thanks to his involvement in The Avengers movies, there’s reason to believe Marvel might be more inclined to give him a solo nod down the road. Ruffalo has previously stated that he’s contracted for several more Marvel movies at unspecified points, so the studio is certainly keeping their options open when it comes to Hulk.

Hulk’s return in future Marvel movies is entirely uncertain at this point, though he can be expected to appear in 2018’s The Avengers: Infinity War – Part I and the 2019 follow-up The Avengers: Infinity War – Part II. Beyond that, well … it’s apparently all up to Marvel.

Movies & TV

Us review: Jordan Peele makes seeing double singularly terrifying

Jordan Peele follows up his Oscar-winning 2017 thriller Get Out with a more straightforward horror film in Us, but the film's blunt terror succeeds thanks to fantastic performances from the cast and clever storytelling.
Movies & TV

The best new movie trailers: Deadwood, John Wick 3, Shazam, and more

Everyone loves a good trailer, but keeping up with what's new isn't easy. That's why we round up the best ones for you. This week, it's new trailers for John Wick: Chapter 3, Deadwood, Shazam!, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Home Theater

The best Dolby Atmos movies for your home theater sound as good as they look

If you've got your hands on some sweet Dolby Atmos gear, the next step is to find films that take advantage of it. These are our picks in several genres for the best Dolby Atmos movies currently available on Blu-ray and streaming services.
Movies & TV

Disney completes its $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox

Now that Walt Disney Company has closed its $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox's movie and television assets, what does this future hold for franchises like X-Men, the Fantastic Four, The Simpsons, and the rest?
Movies & TV

The Mandalorian snags Taika Waititi as the voice of a classic Star Wars villain

The Mandalorian, Jon Favreau's live-action Star Wars series planned for Disney's streaming video service, will be one of the most expensive television shows ever made. Here's everything we know about it so far.
Podcasts

Stranger Things 3 trailer, Deadwood movie, Bill and Ted return

On this week's show, we've got a ton of new trailers to discuss, from HBO's Deadwood revival to the first look at Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. We'll also discuss Netflix's interactive TV show starring Bear Grylls and more!
Deals

UFC Fight Night 148: Watch Thompson vs. Pettis for free with ESPN Plus Trial

UFC fans are in for a treat with the Fight Night 148 main card. Stephen Thompson is going head to head with Anthony Pettis. If you're hoping to see this welterweight event, now is the perfect time to start your ESPN Plus 7-day trial to…
Movies & TV

The best new podcasts to listen to on your daily commute

Feel like you’re drowning in podcasts? In this weekly series we’ll help you pick out the best from the rest of the new and returning shows. This week’s picks include a call to arms for creativity, an infamous baggie of crack, and…
Home Theater

How to connect your Roku device to your hotel room’s TV

Staying at a hotel, but can't bear to be parted from your favorite streaming shows and movies? Take them with you with our complete guide to using your Roku on the road when staying at a hotel.
Movies & TV

Best new shows and movies to stream: Cold War, Shoplifters, and more

Need something to watch this weekend? Check out our list of the best new shows and movies to stream right now. On the list this week: Cold War follows a tragic romance, The Inventor examines a famous fraud case, and more.
Business

Jordan Peele’s Us knocks off Captain Marvel with record-breaking opening weekend

Oscar-winning filmmaker Jordan Peele's horror movie Us crushed early estimates for its opening weekend with a $70.2 million premiere that made it one of the highest-grossing original, live-action movies of all time.
Movies & TV

Apple teases Monday’s big event with an early look into Steve Jobs Theater

Apple is gearing up for a big event on Monday where it's expected to unveil a video-streaming service. But more than 12 hours before it starts, the company has apparently already cranked up the event's livestream ...
Movies & TV

Apple’s next big event is minutes away: Here’s what you can expect

Apple's next big event takes place on March 25 in Cupertino, California. The company is expected to make several announcements related to its services, including Apple TV, so follow our guide to get ready for the big event.
Apple

Apple’s Netflix competitor Apple TV Plus headlines a barrage of new services

Apple's It's Show Time event in Cupertino, California, is officially over, with the tech giant announcing a new video-streaming service to compete with Netflix and Amazon, a new way to subscribe to paid news outlets, and more.