The MCU might have reinvented the Hulk after two uninspiring solo movies (one partially under their own banner), but it still remains a point of annoyance that we've still not seen a solo outing for the Jade Giant since the Ed Norton-led The Incredible Hulk.
Thanks in part to rights issues, Marvel aren't allowed to use the character like their other roster members, which is presumably why they've had to bring him into Thor: Ragnarok to adapt Planet Hulk (or part of it, anyway). That's a shame, but we at least know that he's going to have something important to do over the next three movie appearances he makes.
According to Mark Ruffalo, Ragnarok is the first chapter in a Hulk trilogy that will run into the two coming Avengers movies, as CinemaBlend are reporting...
"So basically, Kevin [Feige] pulled me aside before this, and said, 'If you were gonna do a... if we were going to do a standalone Hulk movie, what would it be?' And I said, 'I think it should be this, this, this, and this and this, and ends up like this.' And he's like, 'I love that. Why don't we do that in the next three movies, starting with Thor 3 and then we go into Avengers 3 and 4.' And I was like, 'That sounds great!' And so we are at the beginning of this arc."
Hulk disappeared at the end of Age Of Ultron and sat out Civil War, despite how useful he would have been to either side of the divide. We're presumably going to find out exactly why that was the case in Ragnarok, as it's revealed he's been on Sakaar for some time. And the revelation that we're going to see much more of the character over the next couple of years is a great one.
This will be a new Hulk too, with the power of speech (already something of a divisive point), and Ruffalo spoke more at the LA press junket ahead of the film's release about the changes to the character:
Hulk speaking is the start to separating of these two individuals, these identities in this split-identity person, and where that's going to end up going. So it was really interesting to me. He's like a baby! He's like a five year old or six year old. So he has the same syntax, he has the same world view, and so it was fun. It's like Chris [Hemsworth] - we all got to reinvent our characters in this.
So what could that trilogy arc look like? Perhaps we'll see more of a Planet Hulk/World War Hulk evolution, whereby Hulk is turned to evil as Thanos invades Earth (perhaps even using the Infinity Stones) and the Avengers are forced to try and put him down? That would be an interesting climax to his arc, given that he's already been terrified of the prospect of becoming a threat to his friends and his world.
Let's just hope it all works well enough to get all of the necessary parties talking about a Hulk solo movie for after Phase 3...