With the D23 Expo on the horizon, there are a lot of rumors swirling around what Marvel Studios might announce for Phase Four and beyond. One source claims Disney+ is looking for a new major series, with Hulk potentially being in contention as the show's main character. Although Hulk had a TV show in the '70s starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno, there were originally plans in 2010 for a pre-Oscar Guillermo del Toro to helm his own series focused on the angry green character.
Del Toro is well known for his interest in cinematic monsters, and he's no stranger to comic book adaptations. The director adapted the Dark Horse series Hellboy into two feature films, both of which were positively received and performed well at the box office. More recently, the director's The Shape of Water won him Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director. He undoubtedly knows how to bring his unique sense of style to his work.
Del Toro was developing his Hulk TV series alongside Battlestar Galactica's David Eick, and in 2012 Del Toro said the only thing he was waiting on to get the ball rolling was the right writer. The director doubled down on his commitment later that year, assuring audiences that the pilot was still in active development. It was not until 2013 that Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb confirmed the Hulk TV series was "on pause," with focus instead being placed on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The Hulk was not the only Marvel character ABC planned on producing at the time, either. During the initial announcement in 2010, plans seemed to be in gear for a Cloak & Dagger series and a Jessica Jones series, but both projects ended up on different networks. While Cloak & Dagger became a big draw for the fledgling Freeform streaming service, Jessica Jones went to Netflix. Unfortunately, the Hulk project seemingly fell through the cracks.
Part of the reason may be the Hulk's complicated relationship with licensing. While Marvel started consolidating its film rights before launching the MCU, and have only grown the pool of characters it can access with the recent FOX merger that included the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, there are still a smattering of characters whose film rights sit under different houses.
Thus far, the Hulk has appeared in the MCU due to agreements with Universal, but the partnership puts roadblocks in the way of more major motion pictures for the hero, as Universal holds the distribution rights to Hulk movies. Of course, film rights do not equate to TV rights, and it's not clear what could be stopping Hulk from getting a green light, as there are no apparent legal issues preventing one from happening. Otherwise, Marvel probably wouldn't have announced a show centered around Hulk in the first place. Still, it's possible the TV rights to the Hulk are also complex, which could be resulting in barriers to such a project's production.
The last word from Del Toro on the production was including the film on a list of projects he prepared that never saw completion he tweeted in 2018. Del Toro's tweet makes it clear he's still interested in the project, though it sits among a lot of other projects. Unfortunately for any fans of Del Toro, the prospects of him completing an adaptation soon seem pretty thin, as the director has said he's done with comic book movies. Still, a Hulk series on Disney+ doesn't seem impossible, though it might be unlikely.