It’s not often that movie news breaks in Forbes, but in this case, it makes a perverse sort of sense.
When Mark Ruffalo signed on for “The Avengers,” he had to sign the same kind of long-term deal that every actor signs for Marvel. He told me at the press day that he was signed for six films, with “The Avengers” as the first of the six. That doesn’t mean he’s absolutely going to actually make six full films, but Marvel has the option to press him into service several more times if they want to.
When I was at the press day at the Four Seasons, they had a Hasbro room set up, showing a number of products from their toy line this summer, and in talking with them, it was obvious that they had high hopes for the Hulk. Evidently, even with the earlier films, the Hulk has always been a strong seller for them. The new version of the Hulk Hands are flying off shelves already, and once people actually see the film, that’s only going to intensify, since Ruffalo and his big green alternate identity are highlights of the film.
We’ve been hearing some rumbling about a TV show version of the Hulk with Guillermo Del Toro and David Eick attached to it, but Del Toro’s going to be busy for at least the next year with post-production on “Pacific Rim,” so there’s no word yet on when that series might launch. Up till now, Kevin Feige has been very firm in telling people that they’re not interested in making another stand-alone film for the character.
Paul Gitter, director of consumer products for Marvel, may have something else in mind.
In an interview with Forbes that went live today, they talk about the way they’ve been orchestrating the merchandise for this movie and the way they’ve also been building towards “The Avengers” over the last few years, and he talks about the performance of Hulk products and how big the sales are so far. And discussing their new-found confidence in the character, he mentions that if current sales trends continue, they’ll create a merchandise line devoted just to the Hulk next year, with plans to bring him back to the big-screen in 2015.
That’s news. If they’re planning a feature, my guess is that they aren’t going to also do a new TV series. They’ll want to do an either/or, and I doubt they’re going to get Ruffalo to commit to a TV series. The thing that I’m most curious about is how they plan to handle a new movie, since one of the keys to the Hulk’s successful deployment in “The Avengers” is the careful and sparing use of him. There are only two big Hulk sequences in the film, but they are both enormous fun, and they’re at just the right moment. In between those scenes, there are plenty of other superheroics on display, so it’s not like the audience is left waiting. Instead, the Hulk is used almost as punctuation, icing on an already delicious cake.
I like both of the earlier Hulk films to varying degrees, but I don’t think either one of them is a home run. I think it’s a very, very difficult property to get right as a movie, and while I understand the sudden urge on Marvel’s part, I hope they are careful and that they don’t burn the character down in a rush to exploit the public’s sudden fondness for him.
“The Avengers” opens this Friday in the US and is currently playing around the world.