It’s one of the most talked about projects for Marvel, especially after The Avengers cleaned house: A new Hulk movie. It’s such a topic of discussion, Lou Ferrigno can claim they’re working on a new solo movie and a TV series, and it’ll make the nerd blogs. But do people really want a new Hulk movie? Probably not.
Hulk Does Not Smash Box Office
Generally, when you bring this up, the first thing out of people’s mouths is a claim that 2003’s Hulk was too arty and too slow for audiences, and that a big mainstream Hulk movie with lots of action and CGI eye candy would be a massive hit.
What’s forgotten is that Marvel already tried that. After Ang Lee’s movie came out, Marvel reconfigured, started building a new Marvel universe, and, of course, released The Incredible Hulk, a big mainstream Hulk movie with lots of action and CGI eye candy. And, factoring in inflation, it… made almost exactly the same amount of money as the 2003 movie!
Would the Hulk benefit from an Avengers bump? Sure, probably, but not as much as other characters making a lot more money. And that leads to a few more complicated problems with the character.
The Hulk Is All About Denial
Part of the reason nerds hate the one Hulk movie and kinda like the other but aren’t torn up that Edward Norton wasn’t in The Avengers is that the Hulk is a crappy character for a movie. The entire movie, in both cases, was predicated on Banner trying to not be the Hulk.
This is a problem when your movie is built on people showing up to see the Hulk. Horror movies can get away with teasing their audience for forty minutes: Big action movies can’t. There’s also the small problem of the fact that the Hulk costs a lot of money to show, and whoever is playing Bruce Banner is much cheaper, so guess who’s onscreen more?
It was even a huge problem in the comics, which mostly got around it by deciding to either have Banner hulked out all the time or have the Hulk follow him around as a psychic projection or something. There’s a reason that, originally, Banner hulked out when the sun set; it forced him to become the Hulk whether he wanted to or not.
Nobody Wants To Hang Out With The Hulk
Finally, there’s the problem of Bruce Banner, a man who commits enormous amounts of property damage whenever he experiences stress. In real life, you’d be scared of Bruce. People like Bruce Banner tend to show up on police blotters a lot. Part of the reason Ang Lee’s movie tanked so hard with nerds was the fact that he actually tried to explain just why Bruce was such a tightly-wound repressed ball of rage, because there aren’t a lot of good options here.
And he can’t want to be the Hulk all the time because that both denies what makes the character interesting and makes him kind of scary, leading us right back to the above problem. Audiences have limited taste for hanging out with homicidal maniacs, no matter how much Mark Millar tries to make that happen.
There’s certainly the possibility of a Hulk cartoon, and a good screenwriter can crack these issues. Or they could just make Planet Hulk, although Marvel has, for now, ruled that one out. But the Jade Giant arguably only works on film when he’s on a team and beating on Asgardians, and maybe that should be good enough for us all.