Why isn’t a solo Hulk film on the Marvel schedule anywhere? The schedule is laid out through The Inhumans closing Phase 3 in 2019 and there is nary a big, green guy on it. After The Avengers, the Hulk was the break-out character of that film and it seems natural that Marvel would want to capitalize on that. Plus, given where Avengers: Age of Ultron ended, an adaptation of Greg Pak’s Planet Hulk storyline would seem a natural segue. It isn’t going to happen and this is why: while Marvel has the production rights to a solo Hulk movie, Universal Studios still owns the rights to distribute the film. This is exactly the same dilemma that held up production on The Hobbit films for a decade.
I’ll paste Geek Tyrant’s summary of the court’s ruling on the matter that came via Forbes, but to be honest, I think you may just see a Red Hulk on the screen before you see Bruce again. Just take a look at the cast list for Captain America: Civil War and you’ll see that William Hurt is returning as General Thunderbolt Ross after nearly a decade. Is Rulk going to be added to the MASSIVE Marvel buffet that is Cap 3? We’ll find out next May.
The report states that Universal no longer has the production rights to the Hulk. Marvel currently has them, and has had them since 2005. But Universal still holds the distribution rights on a solo Hulk movie. So if Marvel were to make a new Hulk film, Universal would be given the option of “First Refusal.” Only if they passed on the project would Disney be allowed to take over the distribution rights of that movie.
There are a few other factors that play into the reason why Marvel isn’t looking to make another solo Hulk movie yet. The real issue doesn’t lay with Marvel not being able to work something out with Universal. Forbes points out that the high cost of production and marketing for a Hulk film, mixed with the disappointing box office results of the two previous films, are a huge reason a Hulk solo film isn’t happening anytime soon. They also point out the obvious, and that is that the character simply works better as an ensemble team player with the Avengers.