Marvel execs are notoriously tightlipped and no formal announcements have been made. But now SVP Marvel licensing Paul Gitter tells Forbes magazine that he and his colleagues have been “pleasantly surprised by the phenomenal response” to the Hulk already &mdash&; even before The Avengers opened. “His sales are up in a major way. We repositioned him from where he was always misunderstood to now depicting him in a more heroic and aspirational manner.” Now fanboys have their first look at Mark Ruffalo’s iteration of the Hulk and they like what they see. Gitter says Marvel “will spin him off to a stand-alone program next year,” which Forbes says is “presumably supported by another big budget franchise movie in 2015. The entertainment studio is also exploring ways to promote Hulk as a ‘corporate icon’ similar to MetLife’s usage of Peanuts’ Snoopy, with Hulk’s image conveying a message about channeling strength to overcome workplace challenges.” This is a marked change from what Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige told Collider recently. “…Every time I see a good take or a good storyline or read some good pages, I think, ‘Oh should we make a movie about this?’ But with the Hulk we’re gonna play it very carefully. We had varying degrees of success on those first two movies, so we’re not gonna say, ‘Oh we did it! Another one!’ We’re gonna be smart about it and play it out. There are no plans right now to do another Hulk. Hulk might be just the special guest in Avengers movies, who knows?” Feige also told The Huffington Post that Marvel put “everything they had and everything they were going for into Hulk’s appearance in Avengers” so it’s “mission accomplished at this point.” According to Collider, a Hulk TV series is in development by Guillermo del Toro and Battlestar Galactica producer David Eick that would develop the original story of Bruce Banner in his mid-20s, and Jeph Loeb, head of Marvel Television, recently confirmed that the live-action show is in active development at ABC.
Also look for Marvel to “synergize” the Avengers into a “multi-platform brand that can live 365 days a year,” Gitter says. To that end, Marvel is introducing digital initiatives, new print and comic book titles, and The Avengers animated TV series in 2013, in addition to the threequel and sequel films in the works. Although the Black Widow isn’t yet scheduled for her own stand-alone movie, the character’s lifestyle will inspire a collection of athletic gear and beauty products. As for whether Marvel superheroes will join Disney theme parks or star on Broadway, Gitter doesn’t directly confirm these initiatives, only stating that Marvel is “exploring all land-based opportunities, including stand-alone shows and attractions.”