The Incredible Hulk arrived in theaters just six weeks after Iron Man officially marked the launch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the studio would prefer if you didn’t acknowledge the movie’s existence. While it still technically remains canon, references to anything involving Edward Norton’s Bruce Banner seem to have been a no-go ever since he was replaced by Mark Ruffalo, although William Hurt’s Thaddeus Ross has been making something of a comeback in recent years.
Universal still hold the rights to distribute solo Hulk movies, and they don’t seem too keen on the same kind of character-sharing agreement that saw Sony cede creative control of Spider-Man to Kevin Feige and his team, meaning that the big guy can only be featured as a supporting player. That obviously limits what they can do with him from a story perspective, and in a recent interview, Ruffalo admitted that he’d want the Hulk’s next appearance to delve into his personal life, something we haven’t really seen during his time in the purple shorts.
“There’s an idea that I think could be really interesting. We’ve never really followed him into his life. He’s always kind of off on the side. He’s like the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of the Avengers. It’d be interesting to fill in all the blanks about what happened to him in between all of these movies.”
Most people are expecting Ruffalo to show up for either a cameo or in a recurring role as part of Disney Plus’ She-Hulk, and while the actor admitted that there’s been discussions about it, he hasn’t officially signed on the dotted line just yet.
“There’s nothing completely at a place where it’s a done deal. There’s some talk of having Banner/Hulk show up in She-Hulk. If we come up with something good, that would be really interesting. Right now that’s about it. That’s all there is on the table.”
Looking at the lineup of movies for Phase Four and beyond, there doesn’t really seem to be any obvious candidates for where the Hulk could fit in, making She-Hulk his most likely destination almost by default. Banner’s cousin Jennifer Walters is the star of the show, after all, and their origin stories are closely linked. Not to mention that having one of the elder statesmen of the MCU show up for a few episodes gives the series an instant boost in star power and appeal to more casual fans of the franchise.