Disney/Marvel/Universal, Give Mark Ruffalo His Own Hulk Movie!
Disney/Marvel/Universal, Give Mark Ruffalo His Own Hulk Movie!
WARNING: This Petition contains spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War! #DontSpoilTheEndgame!
The night before I set up this petition, I had the honour of viewing Avengers: Infinity War on the big screen. In 3D no less. Fucking brilliant! Logan didn't make me cry but this almost did. Given that, I was shocked by the lack of Hulk in it. Seriously, people say The Incredible Hulk and Ang Lee's Hulk "lacked Hulk", meanwhile those two films feature more Hulk in them then the first Avengers. Hell, Age Of Ultron and Ragnarok are the only other MCU films that feature the same amount of Hulk as the Edward Norton film and the Eric Bana film, if not, more. And to add insult to the injury, Bruce Banner (played by Mark Ruffalo reprising his role from Avengers, Age Of Ultron, and Ragnarok) and Secretary of State Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross (played by William Hurt reprising his role from The Incredible Hulk and Civil War) don't speak to each other. It's been ten years since their characters last spoke to each other in 2008's The Incredible Hulk. Talk about missed opportunity. Also, The Incredible Hulk logically showed the same amount of the enormous green rage monster as Thor 1 and Ragnarok showed Thor's hammer/abilities; as Iron Man 1, Ant-Man and Black Panther showed their respective suits. I know neither The Incredible Hulk and Ang Lee's Hulk made a lot of $ in North America, which apparently means same thing will keep happening, but then again, neither of them starred Mark Ruffalo or were (co-)written by Joss Whedon, and ever since The Avengers, people have been begging for an Incredible Hulk 2. Also, Mark Ruffalo was The Incredible Hulk director Louis Leterrier's first choice for the role of Bruce Banner before casting Edward Norton (who Marvel wanted because "he's more famous," and Ruffalo "just does smart, intellectual movies"). Then in 2012, Marvel ended up replacing Norton with Ruffalo. It's a pain in the ass being politically correct. So, Ruffalo had a chance at his own Hulk since before Norton signed on makes it more painful the fact that Bruce Banner's story isn't being further explored outside the Avengers and other MCU films. Kevin Fegie, extend Mark Ruffalo's contract to include The Incredible Hulk 2 and maybe even Avengers 5 and Incredible Hulk 3. Invite Zak Penn and Joss Whedon to team up on developing scripts for the Hulk films with Louis Leterrier directing. Universal, let Disney have the distribution rights. Disney, give Universal the same thing you gave Paramount for Iron Man 3, The Avengers, and even future Indiana Jones films.
1. Working alone
People say that Hulk works better in film when he's standing with his fellow Avengers. That would solve the Hulk 2 problem completely. Spider-Man: Homecoming had Spider-Man team-up with Iron Man and Thor: Ragnarok had Thor team-up with Hulk and (SPOILER ALERT!) Doctor Strange. The first Ant-Man had Ant-Man go head-to-head with Falcon. Even Captain America: Civil War felt more like an Avengers movie. That's how the MCU was ever since Age Of Ultron. If having Hulk guest starring in movies of other Marvel characters has proven successful, then shouldn't the reverse have an equal chance of being successful? They could have Hulk team-up with Black Widow (a subplot where Bruce is caught in a love triangle between Betty Ross and Natasha Romanoff would be perfect for Hulk 2), War Machine (with his own Hulk Buster), Ant-Man (a funny scene they could have Ant-Man grow 70 feet and try to take on the Abomination to disastrous results), Scarlet Witch (considering she's the one who made Hulk destroy Johannesburg in Age Of Ultron and we still don't know what she made Bruce see that made him Hulk-out), Valkyrie (considering how close they were in Ragnarok, assuming Thanos didn't kill her); Korg and Miek from Ragnarok (and maybe introduce in the rest of the Warbound from the Planet Hulk comics). Maybe even Thor himself (even though he had three standalone films, he could still serve as a supporting character in other MCU films like Tony Stark became after Iron Man 3. Like how Hulk was a supporting character in Ragnarok, Thor could return the favour). Hell, once Disney buys 20th Century Fox, a new MCU Wolverine could be a potential candidate. Wolverine did first debut in the Hulk comics issue #181. If Marvel Studios introduces Wolverine into the MCU, The Incredible Hulk 2 would be perfect for his debut. And remember when Deadpool got Hulk-ified in the "Fall of the Hulks" comic?
2. Disney v Universal
Film rights aren't an obstacle. They never were. The scenario is different from Sony with Spider-Man (that's been resolved since 2016) and 20th Century Fox with X-Men and Fantastic Four (Disney's buying Fox), whereas Sony and Fox own the film production and distribution rights to their respective properties, while Marvel Studios owns the film production rights to Hulk and Universal Pictures only owns the right of first refusal to pick-up the distribution rights to any potential solo Hulk films Marvel Studios should decide to produce. First refusal. Meaning, if Marvel Studios decides to produce another Hulk film, even though Disney owns Marvel, Marvel has to first offer the distribution rights to Universal, and if Universal turns them down, Disney can then swoop in and snatch them up. And because Mark Ruffalo is a DAMN awesome Bruce Banner, there's no way Universal would refuse a Mark Ruffalo Hulk film (they have very few film franchises to rely on as it is and the Tom Cruise Mummy movie may be their last attempt at a cinematic universe of their own), so they may as well own the distribution rights completely. Furthermore, that only comes into effect if Hulk is the central character of the movie. So, when Hulk appeared in the Avergers movies and Thor: Ragnarok, Universal had zero claim over the distribution rights (read this) and was forced to watch from the sidelines. So, TLDR: Universal can't produce a Hulk movie themselves without Marvel or make Marvel produce one, and Disney can't distribute it when Marvel decides to do so. I know Mark Ruffalo says it's all Universal's fault, but then again, why would he bite the hand that feeds him? Disney probably wouldn't want a rival film studio earring distribution revenue off a movie financed 100% from "Di$ney Dollar$". Not 100% sure if that's the case as Ruffalo is the only one who spoke up about the matter when asked and neither Kevin Feige (head of Marvel Studios), Bob Iger (head of Disney) or Donna Langley (head of Universal) have spoken up about the exact details. Spider-Man is different because Sony owned production and distribution rights both to begin with and Columbia Pictures financed the entire budget and got 100% of the profits. They just paid Marvel Studios a flat producer's fee just for managing the production at their studio. Disney didn't even have any ownership of the distribution rights. The very end credits read "Released by" with the Columbia Pictures logo and Sony byline underneath and the opening credits read "Columbia Pictures presents a Marvel Studios/Pascal Pictures production" not "Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios present". Staying on topic, Marvel can produce a Hulk movie regardless of whether Disney or Universal distribute. Have so even after the 2009 Disney buyout. Paramount still released Iron Man 2, Thor 1, and Captain America: The First Avenger in 2010 and 2011. Paramount was originally gonna do the same for Avengers 1 and Iron Man 3. Then Disney bought the distribution rights from Paramount for $150m and Paramount still got 8-9% of the worldwide box office profits to both films, with their logo and marquee credit remaining in the films. "Marvel Studios presents in association with Paramount Pictures" and the very end credits read "Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures." There's the answer right there. Disney could just give what they gave to Paramount to Universal as well. "Marvel Studios presents in association with Universal Pictures". Hell, I'm surprised Disney didn't offer to trade the sequel rights to M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable for Universal's right of first refusal. Then Universal and Blumhouse could've produced M. Night Shyamalan's upcoming Glass with no strings attached. With Universal owning DreamWorks Animation and Disney buying 21st Century Fox, maybe Disney could trade 20th Century Fox's distribution rights to DreamWorks Animation's 2013-2017 films (The Croods, Trolls, The Boss Baby, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Kung Fu Panda 3, etc.). Probably not. Universal may buy them from Fox before the Disney-Fox merger closes. Also, the rights would eventually expire and transfer to Universal on their own anyway, so there'd be no point. I read in a few articles saying Universal has theme park rights to several Marvel characters, as another strain between Marvel and Universal. That's a separate issue. Resolve it some other time. We don't give a shit about that. It's the films we care about more. I'm glad Comcast (owner of Universal) dropped out of bidding war for 21st Century Fox, because it would've put a bigger strain between Marvel and Universal.
Hulk CAN work as a solo film. Kevin Feige himself said he believed Hulk had potential for another solo film and still be as entertaining as he was in the Avengers movies. With Bruce Banner's character arc within Ragnarok and the Infinity War films, Hulk has potential for more screen time as proven in Ragnarok. Once Infinity War Part 2 arrives, Hulk may likely have more to work with for a solo film. It's too late for a Planet Hulk movie. They could still adapt the "Red Hulk", "Code Red", "World War Hulk", "Dark Son", "Fall Of The Hulks" and "World War Hulks" story arcs. Introduce She-Hulk and/or a new MCU Wolverine. Maybe even Skaar and Hiro-Kala (with flashbacks of Hulk's gladiator days on Sakaar during the events in between Age Of Ultron and Ragnarok), then they'd have to introduce Caiera and/or Jarella in said flashbacks, which would turn triangles into pentagons and further complicate the love triangle scenario I mentioned earlier between Betty and Natasha. Reveal more detail about Bruce's past. Maybe Brian Banner (Bruce's abusive father from the comics, the inspiration behind Nick Nolte's character in Ang Lee's film, and the possible reason behind Bruce's famous Avengers line "I'm always angry". Maybe have him become Absorbing Man like in Ang Lee's film or the Devil-Hulk like in the comics), or maybe that'd be too dark for Disney. I'd hope they'd cast Sean Bean. Have Hulk go up against the Leader and Abomination (hopefully Tim Blake Nelson and Tim Roth reprise their respective roles, but Hugo Weaving not returning, SPOILER ALERT, casts some doubt. Then again Roth was supposed to return as Abomination in Age Of Ultron scheduling forced him to drop out), maybe even Wendigo, Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross become Red Hulk, and Leader kidnap Betty and transform her into either the Harpy or Red She-Hulk like in the comics (I'd laugh if Betty finding out about Bruce and Natasha would be what'd trigger a Red She-Hulk transformation). (Could William Hurt and Liv Tyler pull off motion capture performances such as those?) The Incredible Hulk: Raging Red. That'd be a killer title. Or The Incredible Hulk: Code Red. Or just The Red Hulk. Or The IncREDible Hulk. (...I'm sorry.) War Machine could pilot his own Hulk Buster, if Iron Man doesn't. Speaking of, Iron Man, Thor and Captain American all had exactly three solo films each. While Chris Hemsworth expressed interest in a Thor 4, Robert Downey, Jr and Chris Evans talked about retiring from the MCU. If Infinity War Part 2 does kill them off, then another potential title for a second or third Hulk film would be The Incredible Hulk: The Last Avenger. As a parallel to Captain America: The First Avenger. Because Hulk would then be the last of the original four Avengers in that scenario. More potential then most people think. They need to have Zak Penn (writer of The Incredible Hulk) and Joss Whedon (writer-director of The Avengers and Avengers: Age Of Ultron, since he's no longer writing/directing Avengers films) team up to write the sequels with Louis Leterrier returning to direct. Penn wrote the first chapter of Bruce Banner's life. And Whedon, as seen in the first two Avengers movies, perfected the Bruce Banner/Hulk character. Together, they'd crack it.
There are other ways Disney and Universal could settle this besides giving Universal what Paramount got:
i. Negative pick-up deal: If Disney's concerned about financing the entire movie only for Universal to distribute, have Universal cover 100% of the film's initial budget (if it increases, Marvel would cover it themselves) and split the net profit 50-50 with Marvel paying Universal a distribution fee.
ii. Franchise trade: Disney trade Universal the rights to one of their franchises (Die Hard, Alien, Predator; etc.) in exchange for the distribution rights.
iii. Disney+ series: Universal have DreamWorks Animation Television produce an animated TV series based on a Classic Media property Disney or Fox made a live action film adaptation of (George of The Jungle, Fat Albert, Mr. Magoo, UnderDog, The Lone Ranger; etc.) for Disney+. Then maybe Disney wouldn't have a problem with Universal distributing future Hulk movies.
iv. Have the distribution rights to each film revert to Disney after a certain number of years.
Mr. Iger, Ms. Langley, we ask with the outmost respect to work your shit out! Bob Iger, all do respect, either own up and let Universal distribute Incredible Hulk 2 & 3 or show them the generosity you showed Paramount for The Avengers (the first one), Iron Man 3 and Indiana Jones 5 (and 6, 7, 8, etc.). Universal deserves to be involved. They've been left out since 2008 releasing only one film while Paramount got four out of six. The remaining two of said six, The Avengers and Iron Man 3 they get 8-9% of the profits just for selling Disney distribution rights. Even Sony gets a trilogy of MCU Spider-Man films. What does Universal get? One MCU Hulk film. Donna Langley, all do respect, you can't depend on Fast & Furious and Jurassic World forever. This maybe your last chance to cash in on the superhero movie bis. Your options are getting low. Sam Raimi's Darkman. Luc Besson's Lucy. Todd MacFarlane's Blumhouse-produced R-rated Spawn reboot still needs a distributor. You already let Hellboy get rebooted instead of turning Guillermo Del Toro's duology into a trilogy. How's your first-look deal with Dark Horse Comics going btw? And Legendary Pictures...need I say more? Take advantage of this! If Marvel and Disney don't want you distributing, give Disney the distribution rights in exchange for a marquee credit, financial participation and placement of Universal's logo appearing alongside Marvel Studios' logo in the opening titles every Marvel-produced Hulk film. Kevin Fegie, give Mark Ruffalo his own Phase 4 Hulk movie regardless of who's distributing. It's been 10 years already. Mark has at least ten left before he's too old for the role (he says he's got two or three but then again Ron Perlman was 58 when he did Hellboy II: The Golden Army, and that came out the same year as Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk). Please don't prolong it further.