Comics on Film: Why the Hulk is Absent in 'Civil War' Comics And the Upcoming Movie

Comics on Film: Why the Hulk is Absent in 'Civil War' Comics And the Upcoming Movie

Sep 04, 2015

In May of 2016, Marvel Studios will kick off their third "phase" of films with the release of Captain America: Civil War, a film that seems like it may be the biggest film the studio has spearheaded thus far. While the two Avengers films, Guardians of the Galaxy, and the Iron Man films are nothing to shake a stick at, Civil War looks like a culmination piece in a lot of ways, just due to the sheer number of characters it'll be including.

The film -- which is specifically labeled as a Captain America outing -- features practically all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's major characters. From Captain America to Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Falcon, the Winter Soldier, the Scarlet Witch, Vision, War Machine, Agent 13, Ant-Man, General Thunderbolt Ross, and the introductions of both Black Panther and Spider-Man. There's a lot of characters that audiences will be seeing again, and many who they'll be meeting for the first time. There is, however, one noticeable absence...

...a big green one.


Hulk's Planned Civil War Appearance

Mark Ruffalo will not be appearing in Civil War as Bruce Banner, or his unleashed alter-ego, the Hulk. This apparently wasn't always the case, though, as Ruffalo has gone on record talking about how Banner was almost included in the film before Marvel decided against it. According to an interview with in Italian movie news website (and translated by ComingSoon), Ruffalo said,

The reason is too great to be revealed in this movie (Civil War). I was in the script but then they removed my character. They don’t want to reveal where is he and why. I don’t even know if Hulk will be back soon.

As we saw at the conclusion of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Hulk very clearly decided that he needed to go off and live a life on his own for a while, free from the obligations of the Avengers and outside the public eye. According to Ruffalo, it looks like Marvel will be looking for the right opportunity to show us what he's been up to since Ultron's defeat, and it looks like that may not be for some time.

So, that's where Bruce Banner stands in the MCU's continuity, and why his absence in Civil War will make a degree of sense. Still, what about the comics? Wasn't Hulk a big part of the Civil War event when it played out in 2006-07?

Actually, no. In fact, the movie version of Banner has a far better set of circumstances keeping him out of that fight than the comic book version had.


Hulk's Place in the Comics During Civil War

Before the comic version of the Civil War event took place, Hulk was responsible for a rampage through the city of Las Vegas that ended with the deaths of 26 people. Although it was generally agreed that he wasn't in control of his actions -- the blame for that rested largely on the shoulders of the villainous Nightmare -- the event sent a clear message to a lot of people about just how dangerous and uncontrollable the Hulk really is.

This led to a meeting of the Marvel Universe's Illuminati -- a secret society that took it upon themselves to make some very serious and sometimes baffling decisions in order to keep the universe at-large safe. Consisting of Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Professor X, Doctor Strange, Namor, and Black Bolt, it was decided by them to do something that was best for the world: send the Hulk into space.

Although Namor vehemently disagreed with the decision of the Illuminati -- actually coming to blows with Iron Man because of it -- the vote went forward, and they then designed a plan to get Hulk off the planet, and send him...away.

Tricking him into entering the Earth's orbit to destroy a rogue satellite with a decaying orbit, he actually entered a shuttle that jettisoned him from the solar system toward another planet. That planet was called Sakarr, and it led to a very celebrated, unique Hulk comics story by writer Greg Pak and artists Carlos Pagulayan and Aaron Lopresti called Planet Hulk.

So, while Captain America and Iron Man were playing their teams against each other and squabbling over the language of a proposed law on Earth, the Hulk was literally fighting to survive on a desolate, backwater planet, with only himself to depend on.


Where Will He Show Up Next?

At this point, its anyone's guess where Bruce Banner could show up next. While there may be rights issues with Universal preventing Marvel Studios from making a new, dedicated Hulk film with Ruffalo in the lead, there is an element of excitement now as to where the green behemoth could show up next. Will we have to wait until Infinity War? Could he appear alongside Doctor Strange in his upcoming film? Maybe he'll rub elbows with Peter Parker in 2017?

It's hard to say for sure at this point, but the character's absence in Civil War's film adaptation makes sense in both the context of the comics, and what the creative teams have set up for the MCU films. We'll just have to hope that the next time we see some good old-fashioned smashing, it'll be sooner rather than later.

Chris Clow is a geek. He is a gamer, a comic book expert and former retailer, as well as a freelance contributor to, The Huffington Post, and, as well as host of the Comics on Consoles podcast. You can find his weekly piece Comics on Film right here at Check out his blog, and follow along on Twitter @ChrisClow.

Categories: Comics, Features, Geek, Editorials
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