Finally, after many years without a streaming platform to call home, The Incredible Hulk has landed on one of the world's biggest services – but it's not coming to Disney Plus.
The oft-forgotten Marvel movie won't make its streaming debut on Disney's platform. Instead, The Incredible Hulk will smash its way onto HBO Max – at least, in countries where Warner Bros' streaming service is available.
Decider (opens in new tab) was the first outlet to report on the surprise reveal in its 'New to HBO and HBO Max in April 2022' round-up article. TechRadar has since verified that The Incredible Hulk will launch on HBO Max on April 1, with a press blast for HBO's April 2022 line-up confirming this to be the case.
Unfortunately for UK and Australian viewers, The Incredible Hulk won't be streamable on Disney Plus or Netflix. The Edward Norton-starring superhero movie is only available to rent on the Sky Store in the UK, but it's available to stream on Foxtel Now in Australia. The Incredible Hulk is also streamable on Netflix in India.
The Incredible Hulk isn't the first non-Marvel Studios movie not available on Disney Plus. Sony's Spider-Man films aren't either – instead, various third-party licensing deals mean that Spider-Man movies starring Tom Holland, Tobey Maguire, and Andrew Garfield are spread across numerous other streamers. For instance, Spider-Man: Homecoming is available on Netflix in the UK and Hulu in the US. Spider-Man: No Way Home, meanwhile, will debut on Starz in the US and Netflix in the UK.
Released in 2008, The Incredible Hulk is technically the second entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The studio recast Bruce Banner before 2012's Avengers Assemble – Mark Ruffalo replacing Norton as the mean, green machine – but The Incredible Hulk is still considered canon in the MCU. That's because Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark and the late William Hurt's General Thaddeus 'Thunderbolt' Ross appeared in a post-credits scene, setting events in motion for the wildly successful MCU to follow.
Analysis: why is The Incredible Hulk coming to HBO Max?
It's a tricky question to answer. Sony officially holds the rights to Spider-Man and every character in the webslinger's illustrious comic history, which is why Marvel Studios had to enter a partnership deal with Sony in order to bring the webhead into the MCU.
This isn't the case for the Hulk, though. Yes, Universal Pictures is the studio that has distributed both Hulk movies to date – that is, the 2003 Ang Lee-directed live-action adaptation and 2008 Louis Leterrier-helmed flick – but it doesn't own the rights to the Hulk character.
As revealed in The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe book (per CBR.com (opens in new tab)), former studio executive David Maisel revealed that Universal only has "the right of first refusal to distribute any future solo Hulk movies". That's the reason why we haven't seen a Mark Ruffalo-led Hulk solo film over the past 10 years, and the reason behind his supporting roles in Thor: Ragnarok, other Avengers flicks, and Disney Plus' upcoming She-Hulk TV show.
But, given that Marvel owns the rights to the Hulk, some fans may think it's odd that The Incredible Hulk isn't available to stream on Disney Plus. Marvel Studios is a subsidiary of Disney, after all, so it would make more sense for The Incredible Hulk to be streamable on the latter's service.
However, as Universal still owns the distribution rights to the Hulk, it has a major say in where The Incredible Hulk is made available to watch. Unless Disney makes Universal an offer it can't refuse, there's no reason for Universal to bring The Incredible Hulk to Disney Plus.
So it seems that WarnerMedia has struck a deal with Universal to bring The Incredible Hulk to HBO Max for an as-yet-undetermined amount of time. For now, then, Marvel fans will have to accept the fact that The Incredible Hulk still isn't available to stream alongside nearly every other MCU film.
For more Marvel-based content, check out every Marvel movie release date and TV show announcement in our MCU Phase 4 hub. Alternatively, see where we rank The Incredible Hulk in our best Marvel movies list.
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