Hulk’s Cinematic Rights Get Surprising Update That Should Please Fans

Written By Kieran Bugg

Hulk‘s cinematic rights received a surprising update that should excite MCU fans. Universal Pictures is reportedly considering selling the movie rights to the Hulk and Namor the Sub-Mariner back to Disney.

Throughout the past decade, Marvel Studios has slowly been regaining the film rights to near enough all of their beloved characters. Facing bankruptcy in the 90’s, Marvel Entertainment began selling off their superheroes to various movie studios.

Spider-Man and Ghost Rider went to Sony.

The Punisher went to Lionsgate.

Blade went to New Line Cinema.

The X-Men, Daredevil, and The Fantastic Four went to 20th Century Fox.

The Hulk and Namor went to Universal.

Hulk’s Cinematic Rights Get Surprising Update That Should Please Fans

Hulk's Cinematic Rights Get Surprising Update That Should Please Fans

Image: Marvel Studios

Some of these characters would go on to star in their own successful film franchises. Spider-Man and X-Men being the prime example.

By the mid 2000’s, Marvel Studios was formed. Moreover, the company had also reacquired the full cinematic rights to Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor. As a result, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige began building the MCU, which would go on to be a global phenomenon.

In addition, it has also become the highest-grossing movie franchise of all time. Eventually, the rights to multiple other characters also began reverting back to Disney.

This was mostly due to the original contracts expiring, the studio selling them back or the rights lapsing.

Slowly but surely Marvel Studios was getting its vast library of colorful comic book characters back.

Nonetheless, Fox, Universal and Sony were adamant to hold onto the rights to X-Men, Fantastic Four, Hulk, Namor and Spider-Man, respectively.

While Fox and Sony were both utilizing their Marvel heroes, Universal, on the other hand, was wasting theirs. On the contrary, Sony would eventually share Spider-Man with Marvel Studios, allowing the web-head to finally appear in the MCU.

In addition, Disney, which owns Marvel Studios, would also buy out 20th Century Fox in one of Hollywood’s biggest acquisitions.

This meant that all franchises owned by Fox including X-Men and Fantastic Four would now fall under the Disney banner.

Despite not owning the rights to either character, the Hulk and Namor both have appeared in the MCU.

The contract Marvel Studios has with Universal forbids them from making solo films for the two classic characters. Universal would have to give permission to Marvel Studios to make a solo film.

Such was the case with 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, which sadly never got a sequel. But they could have them show up in other movies like The Avengers and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Despite that, this hasn’t stopped fans from hoping that the Hulk and Namor would eventually star in their own solo movies.

In recent years there’s been persistent rumors that the rights could lapse and fully revert to Marvel Studios.These rumors have been circulating more and more lately after Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed plans to sell-off Hulu.

According to analyst Jason Bazinet, this could lead to an exchange between Disney and Universal. Disney regains the full rights to the Hulk and Namor while Universal gets control of Hulu. Via The Wrap, Bazinet explained:

“While Disney owns all Marvel IP, Universal has distribution rights to Hulk and Namor. As such, if Disney makes a Hulk or Namor film, Comcast can distribute the film on Peacock. If Hulu is sold, Disney may use this as an opportunity to secure these distribution rights.”

Hulk’s Cinematic Rights Get Surprising Update That Should Please Fans

Hulk's Cinematic Rights Get Surprising Update That Should Please Fans

Image: Marvel Studios

After all, Universal has done nothing with the rights since 2008 so why keep sitting on them?

Should this transaction go through, Spider-Man and his related characters  would be the only IPs left that Marvel Studios doesn’t have the full rights to. Would Disney agree to it? That remains to be seen. On the other hand, Hulu seems redundant as they already have Disney Plus for streaming.