News broke late last night that Marvel and Disney have bought back the film rights for both The Incredible Hulk and Namor making the “never going to happen” stand-alone Hulk film possible for phase 4 or 5.
Universal Studios had purchased the rights to Hulk years before the MCU was launched though their versions with Edward Norton and Eric Bana failed to ignite a franchise for them. Their rights, however, prevented Marvel from using the character as anything but a supporting character.
Sony has a similar deal with Marvel for use of Spider-Man though had more success with their Tobey Maguire/Andrew Garfield led films and nearly refused to allow more MCU use of the character after Far From Home. Tom Holland reportedly urged further negotiation finally getting a new deal in place. Considering all those issues Disney has had with Sony, it is not surprising they sought to re-buy the rights to Hulk rather than try to negotiate any shared deal.
No word on how much Disney had to cough up though most likely a good chunk of change. It does pave the way for Mark Ruffalo’s much more popular portrayal of the Hulk to finally get a starring role in his own movie – though this most likely won’t happen until MCU phase 5 or at least late into phase 4. We doubt they will do another origin film and no idea on where in the established timeline this stand-alone film might fit – perhaps it will be between Endgame and Infinity War showing us how Banner and Hulk came to terms and their melding.
While the undersea superhero Namor who was included in this deal is not currently planned in the MCU (reportedly due to his similarities to DC’s now popular Aquaman thanks to the Jason Mamoa film). He may pop up as a supporting player at some point in phase 4.