Now that Mark Ruffalo's giving lots more interviews about his role in "Avengers: Age Of Ultron" and he's talking about the possibility of another solo Hulk movie, there are certain questions that are being repeated and rehashed in a million different ways and places, and watching from the sidelines without comment is becoming impossible for me.
As a result, I may have to delve into spoilers a bit here. I also need to be careful because I visited the London set of "Avengers: Age Of Ultron," and anything I saw or learned during that trip is heavily embargoed. So I'll tread lightly, but in order to fully address the rumors that are bouncing around, I'll need to discuss one major event from the final act of "Avengers: Age Of Ultron."
Much of what excites me about the way that film is going to end is that it sets in motion a number of big narrative ideas that should go a long way toward setting up whatever storylines they'll follow in the third "Thor" or the third "Captain America," and those movies are going to feel like the inevitable next story steps that have to take place. That's the most fiendishly interesting thing about the way Joss Whedon's script for "Age Of Ultron" works… it not only tells a complete story, but it also makes it fairly clear what the big broad strokes are that are going to get us from the ending of that film to the start of "Avengers 3."
Do I think there is a "Planet Hulk" movie in development by Marvel?
Do I think fans of "Planet Hulk" are going to be happy between "Avengers: Age Of Ultron" and "Avengers 3"?
So how is that going to work? Well, here's where the spoilers begin. And again… I warn you… these are fairly big in terms of what they mean to the overall film, so if you don't want any information about how "Avengers: Age Of Ultron" ends, now is the time to stop reading and leave this page.
Without giving away why and how, let's look at the state of things for Bruce Banner at the end of "Age Of Ultron." Banner continues to play a key role in things in this movie, and when the final war with Ultron spills onto the battlefield and out of the virtual realm, he has a major part to play. Unfortunately, that ends with him onboard a Quin jet on his way off the planet, with no way to immediately turn things around. He's going to have to ride out the trip. It's pre-programmed and he can't stop it.
Here's where I'd wager his spaceship is headed: wherever the Guardians of the Galaxy are located. If I was a betting man, I'd say there will be no Hulk solo film as part of Phase Three. Instead, Banner's ship will take him to another planet, where he will end up meeting the Guardians and having an adventure with them. Hulk will definitely come out to play a few times. I suspect we'll see some sequences that very much feel like they're part of the Planet Hulk story, but that the larger story will be about the Guardians finding a way to get Banner home, only to end up going with him. That would move a big piece of the puzzle into place to get Thanos looking back at the Earth in time for the third "Avengers" film.
So is Mark Ruffalo telling the truth? Yes. Strictly speaking, he is sure they're not making a "Planet Hulk" film, and he can say so. But is he making a film in which the Hulk appears that uses elements of that story? I'd say it's very, very likely. Just remember, if it's Disney or Marvel, we're not going to get the story this way. They've trained their movie stars to lie outright if they have to, and in this case, I'd say they have some very big motivations.
"Avengers: Age Of Ultron" opens everywhere May 1, 2015.