Earlier this month, a rumor from the ordinarily reliable scoopmaster El Mayimbe at Latino-Review posited that Banner and his alter ego would be going big, big places starting in 2015. Specifically, to space.
According to the rumor, The Avengers 2 would find Hulk being cast off into space on account of being too great a threat to Earth. In Phase 3, then, the character's first solo movie since The Incredible Hulk in 2008 would be Planet Hulk, in which the Emerald Avenger becomes a gladiator on an alien planet and fights his way to the top. Then, having amassed an extraterrestrial fighting force of his own, Hulk would return to his home planet to put a hurting on his former compatriots in The Avengers 3.
Now, though, Mr. Beaks at Ain't It Cool is reporting that Marvel does not, in fact, have any plans for a Planet Hulk. While he doesn't know what the plan for Hulk's cinematic future actually is, Beaks is quite emphatic that a gladiatorial smashfest is not in the cards. And he has a pretty solid reason why.
Because crowds loved Ruffalo and his Hulk in The Avengers. What with taking place amongst alien warriors and all, Planet Hulk would have little to no room for Dr. Bruce Banner. Sure, Ruffalo could still play the raging id-monster via motion-capture, but there just isn't really anything for Banner to do in the story. Ruffalo's obviously a huge part of why the character works so well in Joss Whedon's ensemble, and Marvel has him signed up to a six-picture deal, so the studio isn't eager to take the character down a path that forfeits any Ruffalo.
The outlandishness of Planet Hulk makes it an appealing idea, but even with Guardians of the Galaxy on the way, it feels like Marvel might be stretching too far there. That might leave the studio's comfort zone a little too far behind, and having previously stumbled where Hulk is concerned, Marvel's probably pretty cautious with the character.
Don't expect Kevin Feige or anybody from the studio to actually confirm or deny any of this. We'll just have to wait and see what actually happens to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's behemoth.
*I know I'm in the minority here, but I actually enjoy Ang Lee's strange, ambitious 2003 Hulk.