Finally, after many years without a home streaming platform, The Incredible Hulk has landed on one of the biggest services in the world – but it’s not coming to Disney Plus.
The often-forgotten Marvel film won’t be making its streaming debut on Disney’s platform. Instead, The Incredible Hulk will land on HBO Max — at least in countries where Warner Bros’ streaming service is available.
Decider was the first outlet to report the surprise revelation in its summary article, “New to HBO and HBO Max in April 2022.” TechRadar has since confirmed The Incredible Hulk will premiere on HBO Max on April 1, with a press blast for HBO’s lineup in April 2022 confirming this.
Unfortunately for UK and Australian viewers, The Incredible Hulk will not stream on Disney Plus or Netflix. The superhero film, starring Edward Norton, is only available to rent from the Sky Store in the UK but is available to stream on Foxtel Now in Australia. The Incredible Hulk is also available to stream on Netflix in India.
The Incredible Hulk isn’t the first non-Marvel Studio film not to be available on Disney Plus. Neither are Sony’s Spider-Man films – instead, various third-party licensing deals mean that Spider-Man films starring Tom Holland, Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield are spread across numerous other streamers. For example, 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 ahead of Avengers Assemble 2012 — Mark Ruffalo replaces 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 in motion the events that the wildly successful MCU would follow.
Analysis: Why is The Incredible Hulk coming to HBO Max?
It’s a tricky question to answer. Sony officially owns the rights to Spider-Man and every character in the Webslinger’s illustrious comic book history, which is why Marvel Studios had to partner with Sony to bring the Webhead to the MCU.
However, this does not apply to the Hulk. Yes, Universal Pictures is the studio that has distributed both Hulk films to date — that is, 2003’s live-action adaptation of Ang Lee and 2008’s Louis Leterrier flick — but it doesn’t own them right to the Hulk character.
As revealed in the book The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (via CBR.com), former studio head David Maisel revealed that Universal only has “first refusal rights to distribute future Solo Hulk films.” . That’s why we haven’t seen a Hulk solo movie directed by Mark Ruffalo in the last 10 years and the reason for his supporting roles in Thor: Ragnarok, other Avengers movies and the upcoming She Hulk TV show from Disney Plus.
But given that Marvel owns the rights to Hulk, some fans might find it odd that The Incredible Hulk can’t be streamed on Disney Plus. Marvel Studios is a subsidiary of Disney, after all, so it would make more sense for The Incredible Hulk to stream on their service.
However, because Universal still owns the distribution rights to the Hulk, it has a huge say in where The Incredible Hulk is made available to watch. Unless Disney Universal makes an offer it can’t refuse, there’s no reason for Universal to bring the Incredible Hulk to Disney Plus.
So it appears that WarnerMedia has struck a deal with Universal to bring The Incredible Hulk to HBO Max for an unspecified amount of time. So for now, Marvel fans will have to accept that The Incredible Hulk still can’t be streamed alongside almost every other MCU film.
For more Marvel-based content, be sure to check out every Marvel Movie Release Date and TV Show Announcement on our MCU Phase 4 hub. Alternatively, check out where we rank The Incredible Hulk in our list of the best Marvel movies.