The Incredible Hulk. He’s one of Marvel’s most enduring characters and probably would rank in the Top 5 Most recognizable characters across the globe! He’s had his own TV series, several films, action figures, magazines, etc, etc. Before the kick off of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the release of 2008’s Iron Man, it was probably true that the Hulk was second only to Spider-Man as the most well known Marvel Comics super hero. He made his debut in “The Incredible Hulk” #1 in 1962 and has been taking the world by storm ever since. There have been many incarnations, variations and reboots over the past 53 years in order to keep the character fresh and give new readers of the comics a good jumping on point throughout the decades. Now as we get set for the launch of Avengers 2: Age of Ultron this coming May, the green-skinned goliath will once again be hitting the silver screen. But with Iron Man, Captain America and Thor getting sequels, the question remains: What about the Hulk?
The 2008 movie The Incredible Hulk wasn’t actually a sequel to Ang Lee’s Hulk which came out in 2003. It was more like a soft reboot. We accepted that the Hulk was already created and that Bruce Banner was on the run from the Army but that was about all. The entire cast also changed with Ed Norton taking over the role of Bruce Banner from the previous actor, Eric Bana. By far, The Incredible Hulk is superior to 2003’s Hulk. Partly because it is an established member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and partly because we’d all like to forget that Ang Lee tried to make Bruce Banner’s father into the Absorbing Man (played by Nick Nolte). Thus far, the Hulk is the only Marvel character who has not gotten a true sequel.
Apparently, the reason for this is two-fold. One reason being that The Incredible Hulk was the lowest grossing movie of the line from the Marvel Cinmeatic Universe to date. The other reason is that there seems to be some confusion as to what exactly to do with the Hulk in a sequel within the realm of what they already have established. According to an interview that Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige had with MTV, there are a lot of cool stories to be told, but they run the risk of being too overwhelming. Feige told MTV: “I think there’s pitfalls of continuity-overload, and mythology getting so dense that it almost collapses in on itself,” referring to the possibility of a Planet Hulk or a World War Hulk movie as part of the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe offerings. However, the one thing that I’ve never heard anyone speak of is the one thing that would make the most sense for the perfect Hulk sequel and also seemed to be the direction they teased at the end of Ed Norton’s Hulk movie: The Grey Hulk!!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with this particular segment of Hulk’s history, it’s important to note that when The Hulk first appeared, he was grey and not green. Later on in the 1980’s, his color was switched back to grey and given the back-story of it being another form of Banner’s fractured psyche. The grey persona was manipulative, cunning and tended to fight dirty with little regard for those around him. For my money, this was one of the best runs of the Hulk comics to date starting with issue 324 and spanning to issue 378. He fought with the Hulkbusters, was on the fun from S.H.I.E.L.D., convinced the world he died and then became an enforcer for the Las Vegas mob. Any one of these stories or a combination thereof would make for an intriguing and bankable Hulk sequel.
Here’s how I envision it: following the events of The Avengers 2 (depending of course on how exactly it ends for him….), Bruce Banner once again goes off the grid trying to find a way to control the Hulk side of himself just as we saw Ed Norton’s Banner trying to do during the first part of his movie. He ends up working at an experimental research facility out in the Nevada desert. While there, he secretly experiments with different means of ridding himself of the Hulk when one of the experiments goes wrong and he ends up changing into Grey Hulk and subsequently destroying the facility!! S.H.I.E.L.D. investigates and concludes that the Hulk died in the accident. Bruce Banner awakens in Las Vegas and finds himself changing uncontrollably into the Grey Hulk thus attracting the attention of mob boss and casino owner Michael Berengetti. The new Grey Hulk takes on the persona of Joe Fixit and goes to work for Berengetti in exchange for safe haven from public scrutiny. They could even bring in Crusher Creel (aka: The Absorbing Man) as an enforcer for a rival mob as an adversary and tie that back into his last appearance in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. (and also help wash away the memory of Nick Nolte as that character from 2003). This would be another great connection between Marvel’s TV show and their cinematic universe like we saw with Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier. The post credit sequence could show that the battle between Creel and Fixit drew the notice of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Avengers. The Hulk is brought back into the fold so that he is present to face Thanos in Avengers 3: The Infinity War.
That’s my idea anyway. It would seem to be totally feasible within the already established framework of Marvel Cinematic Universe. I feel that the Hulk is being severely underutilized and I think it’s a shame that we now have a talented actor like Mark Ruffalo playing Bruce Banner and we are beginning Phase 3 of Marvel’s movie line with only one Hulk movie so far. Especially when there are so many great Hulk storylines out there based on his almost 53 years of existence in comic books. Hopefully we’ll start to see more of the character as the MCU expands and grows. If not, then Marvel is missing out on a cash cow simply because of their inability to give him a decent storyline and THAT is a waste of gamma-sized proportions.