Hulk’s Movie Rights: Has Marvel Got Them Back from Universal?

There are finally some positive signs for the MCU regarding The Incredible Hulk and some potential sequels. The Walt Disney Company and its subsidiary, Marvel Studios, finally have the distribution rights to one of the most iconic Avengers: The Incredible Hulk.

Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) fans are rejoicing at the news, potentially leading to the production of the highly anticipated World War Hulk based on Marvel Comics. The Incredible Hulk was released in 2008, starring Edward Norton in the titular role.

Although Bruce Banner was recast with our favorite Mark Ruffalo in the leading role, we have yet to get any solo feature for the Jade Giant since The Incredible Hulk. This is due to Marvel Studios not owning the distribution rights for the Hulk, though that could soon change for the Avengers’ giant green rage monster.

1. Have Marvel and Disney repurchased the Hulk rights from Universal?

While Marvel Studios has always been able to develop MCU projects involving Bruce Banner’s Hulk, Universal has first refusal for any projects. This means they’d get a more significant chunk of the profits if Marvel were to produce any sequels to The Incredible Hulk or solo projects with Banner as the lead.

This explains Hulk’s limited role in the MCU compared to his fellow Avengers. However, there have been signs that Marvel Studios is preparing for the distribution rights to revert back to their original ownership contractually.

According to an SEC filing in 2006, it’s confirmed that Universal agreed to distribute The Incredible Hulk and any sequels under the same terms as Marvel’s deal with Paramount, its other distributor at the time:

“Universal Studios has agreed to distribute Marvel’s film The Incredible Hulk and sequels on essentially the same terms as those on which Paramount has agreed to distribute the other films financed and produced under the film facility.”

To that end, the referenced SEC filing with Paramount laid out the terms of distribution within an initial 15-year period. As such, this suggests that the distribution rights for The Incredible Hulk would be set to revert to Marvel in June of 2023, based upon the movie’s June release date in 2008.

Hulk's Movie Rights: Has Marvel Got Them Back from Universal?
Mark Ruffalo in Avengers Assemble (2012)

2. Is The Incredible Hulk Available on Disney+?

The Incredible Hulk is finally available on Disney+ and started streaming on June 16th. This is a positive sign that supports the idea that Marvel Studios recently got the Hulk rights back from Universal Pictures.

It’s possible that Marvel Studios and Universal struck a deal for The Incredible Hulk to release on Disney+. This would be similar to the first wave of Spider-Man movies recently being added to the service via a special deal Marvel made with Sony Pictures.

However, it’s more likely that the distribution rights lapsed, an exhilarating prospect considering the future opportunities that would now be open for the MCU concerning Bruce Banner’s Hulk.

3. Is a New MCU Hulk Movie finally happening?

From what we have been hearing, it does seem likely that Marvel Studios will start developing a new Hulk movie soon. We are still wondering whether it will be a part of the MCU’s Phase 6 or will it release after the end of the current Multiverse Saga.

Still, MCU fans shouldn’t get their hopes up. Multiple Marvel Studios productions are currently halted due to the ongoing WGA strikes, which could last for months as entertainment companies struggle to negotiate with the writers’ union over writers’ room sizes, AI, and residuals.

A shaky Phase 4 has further motivated Marvel to refocus its efforts on quality over quantity with a slower frequency of releases. While a solo Hulk movie could still be in development now that the distribution rights have likely been reclaimed, it could still be a while before we see it on the big screen.

Hulk's Movie Rights: Has Marvel Got Them Back from Universal?
Mark Ruffalo and Tatiana Maslany in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (2022)

4. What A New MCU Hulk Movie Could Be About?

There have been a handful of recent Hulk-related teases within the MCU. Marvel’s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law included Bruce Banner as he was responsible for giving his cousin Jennifer Walters powers through his gamma-irradiated blood. However, Banner was eventually called away to space.

It was later revealed at the series’ end that the Hulk now had a son hailing from the same planet Sakaar where Hulk had a career as a cosmic gladiator for a couple of years. As such, these teases suggest a new Hulk movie could adapt a version of the comics’ World War Hulk.

Moreover, it’s been confirmed that the upcoming Captain America: Brave New World will feature an appearance from Liv Tyler’s Betty Ross, Bruce Banner’s initial love interest, who has not been featured since 2008’s The Incredible Hulk.

There’s been more Hulk-related content in the current MCU than ever before (and more still to come). Combined with the SEC filings and The Incredible Hulk making its way to Disney+, it’s confirmed that Marvel Studios is ready to enjoy their additional freedom with Bruce Banner’s Hulk, which they’ve never had before in the MCU.

Hopefully, a new Hulk film will be on its way shortly.

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5. About Marvel Cinematic Universe

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is an American media franchise and shared universe centered on a series of superhero films and TV series, independently produced by Marvel Studios and based on characters that appear in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.

The franchise includes comic books, short films, television series, and digital series. The shared universe, much like the original Marvel Universe in comic books, was established by crossing over common plot elements, settings, cast, and characters.

Epic Dope Staff

Epic Dope Staff

Our talented team of Freelance writers - Always on the lookout - pour their energies into a wide range of topics bringing to our audience what they crave - fun up-to-date news, reviews, fan theories and much much more.


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