So, the big green guy hasn't had the best career on the big screen has he. The 2003 film was, let's be charitable and say not good, and the MCU reboot of the character has been pretty solid so far, if you ignore the fact that his solo movie had a completely different lead actor to the guy who is playing Hulk now and the film is pretty much forgotten otherwise. However, it is unlikely that there won't be another Hulk film at some point, the character is too popular and everyone is pretty much in agreement that Mark Ruffalo is a perfect fit for Bruce Banner, so how should they do it? Well, here are a few ideas. I'm not going to try to write the whole movie this time, I've just got the outlines of two ways it could go.
1. Who should Hulk smash?
The obvious answer to the question about the lead villain for an Incredible Hulk sequel would be The Leader. Marvel set him up in the second film of the MCU and never went back to him. The Leader is a smart villain (no kidding right?) so it wouldn't be unfeasible for him to just be lying in wait for the perfect opportunity to enact his master plan. But there is another option...
There has been talk of Marvel wanting to bring the Thunderbolts into the MCU at some point. For those of you who don't know, the Thunderbolts started out as a group of villains (The Masters Of Evil) masquerading as superheroes during a point where both the Avengers and the Fantastic Four were missing in action. In the comics the group debuted fighting the Hulk, so why not do that in the films. The motivation would be the same, gain the publics trust by taking down a well known menace, simple.
2. Set up is key.
Now depending on which villain you go with depends on how much set up would need to happen for the film to work. Either way, this film will have to come near the end of phase 4 and The Hulk has to remain on Earth at the end of Infinity War. We also have to see the Avengers fractured by the events of Infinity War, preferably with one of (if not both) Captain America and Iron Man retired or dead. The Leader won't need any immediate set-up other than this, Hulk would be alone and vulnerable (well, as vulnerable as Hulk can be) in this situation. The Thunderbolts need a bit more set up, but that has already started with the fact that Helmut Zemo survived Civil War, so Citizen V is available. Moonstone can be set up in Captain Marvel, Goliath in Ant-Man and Wasp, Fixer or Beetle in Homecoming and Screaming Mimi can be a new character. None of these characters have to be at the forefront of their respective introductory movies either. Depending on how Carol Danvers gets her powers in Captain Marvel, Moonstone shouldn't be too much of a problem, just put her in the same place with access to whatever it is and you're good. Goliath might be worth making a major villain in AM&W unless the plot hinges on the Pym Particles being stolen by someone else, then he could just be a secondary villain. Fixer and Beetle could be clients of The Tinkerer in Homecoming, that's simple enough, they'd just need to cameo by video call or something.
3. Banner Broken
After the events of Infinity War, Bruce Banner must be alone and without any of his former allies. He is haunted by the events of the battle with Thanos and struggle to keep his emotions in check. Every night he has nightmares and this causes him to transform into Hulk as he sleeps and go on a rampage, destroying a small town. After this, he goes on the run, with, of course, General Ross hot on his trail again. This sets up well for the Thunderbolts and that story just writes its self at that point. If going with The Leader as the villain, then he should also be hunting Banner for his own reasons, but obviously through a more cerebral means and using agents, such as Gamma Irradiated dogs (because we might as well lift as liberally from the comics as possible).
4. This character please
You know the main reason why doing another Hulk movie is a good idea? Because it brings Jennifer Walters into the MCU and what the MCU needs is She-Hulk. So, either film we're doing, Bruce must meet his cousin quite early on. He obviously shouldn't go looking for her, he's way to much of a danger to everyone around him, instead she should seek him out to try to help him. Of course, Bruce will rebuff her, but she is persistent. She should also make attempts to keep General Ross away from Bruce.
5. The Leader's Plan
So, The Leader should have spent the last decade (as it will be by the time this movie is released) experimenting with Gamma Radiation. He has been testing on animals, hence the gamma dogs from earlier, and kidnapping humans and experimenting on them as well. His plan is to create an army of unstoppable Hulks to take over the world, which he controls using his mental powers, because why can we not have a hammy all out old school villain. But he needs the Hulk, the original, to complete his experiments and also for some revenge. So he sends his hulks after the original. Cue massive battle that destroys another town or even a city, that the Hulk wins.
6. It's A Trap
Sticking with The Leader storyline; The Leader is watching the battle between his hulks and The Hulk and when he sees it not going too well, he orders one of his hulks to kidnap Jennifer. He uses her as bait to bring Banner to his hide out. Whilst waiting for Bruce to show up the Leader takes a bit of time out to experiment on Jen. So when Bruce shows up, The Leader traps him, taunting him the Jen is such a wonderful experiment. Bruce hulks out, but The Leader sets a mind controlled She-Hulk to subdue him. Meanwhile, outside the army (who followed Bruce) are fighting the Leader's hulks.
7. Justice Like Lightning
If we go with the Thunderbolts story, then these guys should turn up and interrupt Bruce and Jen (preferably in a café in a built up area or something, Jen is trying to prove to Bruce that he isn't a danger to everyone). They try to take him into custody, but Jen is having none of it. Then Goliath gets violent and thing spiral out of control ending up with Hulk fighting the Thunderbolts in the city (set piece of Hulk running up a giant sized Goliath to punch him in the jaw and send him crashing backwards into the side of a skyscraper). The army then get involved, which scares the Thunderbolts away. However, the Hulk is still rampaging. Jen stops Ross from opening fire and tries to calm the Hulk. However, a very nervous solider misreads one of Hulks movements as an attack and fires, but Jen blocks it. Hulk loses it, wipes out the army and jumps away, clutching Jen in his arms.
8. Blood for blood
Then basically She-Hulks comic book origins happen. Hulk transforms back into Bruce upon arriving at a nearby hospital. The Doctors put Jen in intensive care and she gets a blood transfusion from Bruce. Her wounds start healing at an accelerated rate because of the Hulks healing power. Meanwhile the hospital staff see what happened on the TV, realise Bruce is the Hulk and call the army. The Thunderbolts show up before the army do, thanks to listening in on emergency calls. Bruce agrees to come with them in order not to start a fight in the hospital, however, General Ross takes umbrage to these new guys coming in and taking Bruce from him. The two sides argue, with The Thunderbolts wanting to take Bruce to the Raft whilst Ross wants to take him into military custody. This gives Jen enough time to fully heal and wake up (Hulk healing power remember). She fights off the hospital staff and transforms into She-Hulk, going out front and creating a distraction for Bruce to escape.
9. Hulks Smash
Either movie should end on a hulk team up. In the Leader version, Hulk breaks She-Hulk out of the Leader's mind control and they both smash the fake Hulks and finally the Leader himself. In the Thunderbolts version, The Thunderbolts chase down Bruce, causing him to Hulk out in an abandoned mine or some other disused industrial facility. She-Hulk follows them and a fight between the Hulks and the Thunderbolts happens. The Thunderbolts realise they are out matched and flee, leaving the Hulks to deal with the army. Hulk is stopped from attacking the army by She-Hulk, who warns Ross to stop chasing her cousin and Hulk escapes. Either way, She-Hulk must make reference to Hulk being much better at this than "the other guy" referencing the previous MCU Hulk movie.
10. Post Credits
Of course, it wouldn't be a superhero movie without a post credits scene or 3. So, both films will share one post credits scene and have a different second one. The shared one is of Jen looking around a new office. She smiles, says "This will do" and closes the door. Across the window is written "Jennifer Walters- Superhuman Lawyer" or something like that. For the Leader version, the other PCS is General Ross at the sit of the Leaders base, looking around the scientific equipment. He accidentally kicks something as he is walking, he bends down, picks it up and examines it, a small red vial. Thunderbolts version see the team back at their hideout, lamenting the fact their plan didn't work and is the point where we reveal that the Thunderbolts are the bad guys from all those previous films, to set up for a Thunderbolts film.
So, what do you guys think? Anything you would do differently? Which of the two versions do you prefer? Let me know in the comments below.
And with that