In the last few years, relatively obscure characters like Aquaman and Captain Marvel have had their shot on the big screen. Meanwhile, Hulk is still front and center in all the Avengers movies, whether is was his gladiatorial fun in Thor: Ragnarok or his scene-stealing turn in Avengers: Endgame.
But a new Hulk solo movie? It doesn’t look good. It has been ten years since the last time Hulk headlined his own movie.
There are several reasons for this. Marvel shares distribution rights with Universal for any potential solo Hulk film which complicates things a little. Hey, if Marvel Studios and Sony can get together and deliver Peter Parker and the world of Spider-Man to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is not such a stretch to imagine that Marvel and Universal can find some common ground to deliver a Hulk solo movie, right?. But in the meantime, Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Endgame will have to do the trick.
But a new Hulk movie would have to be very different than any Hulk flick that came before it. There’s only so many times you can work that tortured Jekyll/Hyde thing. But these stories that could make great Hulk movies, and some of ’em could even be spun as something other than Hulk solo movies, which might make things easier on Marvel Studios…
Marvel and the concept of hero shrinkage (not like that you perv) have long gone together – even in the pages of The Incredible Hulk. One of the Hulk’s greatest loves, Jarella, is the queen of a sub-atomic world known as K’ai. When the Hulk is shrunk to sub-atomic size by the villain known as Psyklop, he finds adventure and romance in a John Carter-like swashbuckling journey through Jarella’s world.
While on K’ai, the Hulk was hailed as a hero and fought microscopic boars and boa constrictors (which of course were huge to the even smaller Hulk) and who wouldn’t want to see that awesomeness play out on the big screen? In addition to the innate coolness of this concept, Jarella and her world were created by Harlan Ellison and it would be beyond amazing to see Marvel exploit some of Ellison’s comics work in film.
Later, Jarella would return and become a major Hulk supporting character until her tragic death in Incredible Hulk #240. The Hulk is certainly not known as a romantic character (despite his recent cinematic liaison with the Black Widow), but the tale of Hulk and Jarella stands as one of the most poignant romances of Marvel’s Bronze Age.
Now, how is all this more than just another Hulk solo story you ask?
Simple, instead of Psyklop, how about tying the Hulk’s shrinkage to the Quantum Realm of Ant-Man and making a journey to Jarella’s realm a buddy film between Marvel’s biggest hero and its smallest?
Now, follow me here, this could get a little red tapey. The Hulk isn’t the only Marvel character that Universal has a stake in. The rights to Namor, the Sub-Mariner are also held by Universal so perhaps if Marvel Studios is to come to some sort of Sony like accord with Universal, the Sub-Mariner can come along for the ride. If Marvel and Universal were to try and package the Hulk and Namor together then they need look no further than Incredible Hulk #118. This Stan Lee/Herb Trimpe masterpiece is the most perfect Sub-Mariner/Hulk mash up ever.
The book starts with an unconscious Hulk washing up on in Atlantis and found by Sub-Mariner’s consort, the Lady Dorma. Enter Mistress Fera, a rival to Dorma for Namor’s affections. Fera tells Namor that she has seen Dorma canoodling with the Hulk and the battle is on.
Of course, any film adaptation of this particular issue would probably have to go a little farther than the machinations of a jilted lover causing the colossal struggle, but the battle between the Hulk and Sub-Mariner in this issue is pure majesty. If Marvel and Universal want a cinematic conflict between these two titans than the whole thing is masterfully storyboarded right here in this issue. This is probably all wishful thinking, but hey, Aquaman just made DC and Warner Bros serious bank, so the prospect of a Sub-Mariner film (especially packaged with the Hulk) might become a bit more compelling to those that hold the rights to Marvel’s Golden Age great.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has now officially entered the time travel game with Avengers: Endgame, and I can think of no better story to further explore the chronal madness than Future Imperfect.
In this seminal event by legendary Hulk writer Peter David and legendary everything artist George Perez, the modern day Hulk travels to a dystopian future to take on that future’s brutal dictator. The despot in question is none other than a bearded, futuristic version of the Hulk named Maestro.
Future Imperfect is so big and involves so many Marvel characters that it could really be a huge event film. The Maestro could serve as a reminded just how dangerous the Hulk could be and also be a way for Marvel to tell a huge Hulk stories while presenting alternative versions of its favorite heroes. Plus, it’s time Marvel starts exploring some of Peter David’s work in other media as he was one of the best writers Marvel had to offer in the ’80s and ’90s.
Hulk versus Hulk with the fate of the future of the Marvel Universe at stake, what more can a moviegoer ask for?
The Pantheon Saga
Speaking of Peter David, one of the scribe’s most memorable arcs during his incredibly long run on The Incredible Hulk was the Pantheon saga. The Pantheon storyline ran for three years and put Bruce Banner’s alter ego into some very new and surprising situations, situations that are cinematic enough in scope to be considered for a future film. The Pantheon were all super powered descendants of the half Asgardian/ half human god Agamemnon who led his team in its mission to protect humanity.
Hell, after Hulk’s recent adventures with the Asgardians in Thor: Ragnarok, that can be your way into this. The members of the Pantheon were all given enough foibles and motivation to come to the big screen fully formed and a Hulk/Thor meets high tech Greek demi-gods joint sounds big enough to us to solve the Hulk solo film conundrum.
Are you up for a Hulk: Agent of SHIELD film? You bet your purple pants you are! That’s what Mark Waid’s Indestructible Hulk essentially was.
The high concept of this great book is Bruce Banner agreeing to allow SHIELD to use him as a weapon in the hottest of hot zones in exchange for funding his humanitarian efforts. Waid weaved the Hulk into some surprising settings, any of which would make for some big budget and intriguing film fodder.
World War Hulk
Just call it Avengers 5(or 6) if you want. Marvel is going to need to go bigger and badder if it is to follow up Thanos and the Infinity War and Endgame movies, and an unbalanced Banner out for revenge for whatever reason is as big and bad as they come.
If Marvel wants to fully exploit Hulk as a franchise character, then this tale of tragedy, betrayal, and revenge is the perfect blockbuster direction. The entire Marvel Universe versus the Hulk and his space armada, what else can you ask for? Many of the key players of this storyline are already in place (or soon will be) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so the stage is set for World War Hulk- the biggest Hulk story of them all.