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In 2008 Iron Man hit theaters and gave birth to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The wild fire of comic book and superhero movies that would come to follow would be unlike anything fans around the world had ever experienced before. Warner Brothers, Sony and Fox would follow suit trying to create their own cinematic universe but none of them would quite measure up. It also started Marvel’s slow process of attempting to reacquire all their IPs and assets under one roof. With the sale of Fox they pulled the X-Men and Fantastic Four back under their banner and through their truce with Sony they’re able to borrow Spider-Man.
One big question mark has been with Universal and their murky Hulk deal. Marvel has been using the Hulk for years now in their films, but it’s been awhile since we’ve had a solo Hulk film. The reason being that despite Marvel having the rights to the Big Green Giant, they did not have distribution rights. So any film they made that starred Banner and his other half, Universal would get to distribute.
According to a source from MCU Cosmic, Marvel may have regained all rights to not just the Hulk but also the King of Atlantis, Namor. This could mean a couple of things for both of these characters, so let’s take it one at a time.
What would full rights to the Hulk mean at this point? In both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame Hulk’s story seems to have come to some sort of a logical conclusion. Where would a solo Hulk film go from this point and how would it fit into the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe? One of the most notable Hulk story lines that fans have been crazy was already touched on in Thor: Ragnarok with World War Hulk. There may be some room for a kind of prequel movie that explores the time between Infinity War and Endgame where Bruce Banner and the Hulk reconciled their differences and become Professor Hulk.
Where I think we’re really going to see the effects of Marvel getting back the rights though is in the ancillary characters. They announced last year at ComicCon that She-Hulk would be one of the shows making a debut on Disney+. We’re at the point now with the Hulk where I think he’ll be taking an even more behind the scenes role in the MCU. This opens up the door for a new Green Goliath to step in and make some waves.
As for Namor, the rumors surrounding his introduction into the MCU lay with Black Panther. There’s a moment in Avengers: Endgame where Okoye is reporting to Black Widow about a disturbance in the Ocean near Africa. Black Widow asks how they’re dealing with it and Okoye says in a very matter of fact way, “You deal with it, by not dealing with it.” In the comics Wakanda and Atlantis are age old enemies and Okoye may be hinting at the idea that right know there is some sort of peace between the two nations and we keep that peace by not getting in their business.
Normally I’d say that Namor doesn’t quite have the star power to carry a solo film, but he is the Marvel equivalent of Aquaman which did well for DC. Marvel has also been very adept at taking B and C Rank heroes and turning them into super stars. If they can make the Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man a household name, why not Namor?
It’ll take a bit more time before we know anything for sure, but the more of their original properties they can get back, the bigger and more robust Marvel will make the MCU.