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This MCU movie will finally start streaming — but not on Disney Plus

The Marvel Studios logo
(Image credit: Marvel)

Trying to assemble all the MCU movies to stream online is getting easier, but not in the way we wanted. Yes, we've got good news and bad news for everyone who wants to watch the Marvel movies in order.

Yesterday (Tuesday, March 22), news broke (opens in new tab) that The Incredible Hulk, one of the last MCU movies that wasn't streaming online, was finally headed to a streaming service. The only catch? That service isn't Disney Plus — the home of all the other MCU movies.

Instead, The Incredible Hulk will stream on HBO Max (our pick for the best streaming service) starting April 8. Yes, the odd world of licensed films and TV shows has given us this moment where Marvel Studios' sole Hulk movie won't be alongside the rest of the Avengers. 

And while this decision may not be a huge deal to some, it both makes sense and doesn't. Let's dive into why.

Analysis: Why Hulk to HBO Max makes sense — and also makes us want to SMASH!

The Hulk in The Incredible Hulk

(Image credit: Marvel Studios and Universal via Marvel.com)

Why not Peacock? The first detail of all of this is arguably minutia to most: The Incredible Hulk is a Marvel Studios production and is distributed by Universal Pictures. This is why we wonder why The Incredible Hulk is moving to HBO Max and not Peacock, the NBCUniverse's own streaming service.

Anyone who wants to watch the Fast and Furious movies in order on a single streaming service knows the plight of a splintered family of movies. Those films — again, distributed by Universal — have been split apart many services, including HBO Max and Peacock. Oddly enough, none are on Peacock anymore, with HBO Max and others getting the rest. 

Clearly, there's a strategy at Universal Pictures to license these films out to make money that way, instead of building up their parent company's own service. 

tl;dr: The Incredible Hulk to HBO Max makes sense for a diverse array of revenue sources.

Why not Disney Plus? So, The Incredible Hulk may be a part of the Phase 1 era of MCU movies, but it doesn't quite look right. Yes, it is canonical to the Marvel movies, but it stars Edward Norton (and not Mark Ruffalo) as Bruce Banner. While we're sure Disney and Marvel would love to get the movie under the same banner as Iron Man 1 and 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger and Avengers (the rest of Phase 1), it just ... still feels weird. Then again, MCU recast James "Rhodey" Rhodes / War Machine, switching from Terrance Howard (Iron Man 1) to Don Cheadle (Iron Man 2) without batting an eye. 

The Incredible Hulk does fit into the overall MCU in other ways, though. Not only did Robert Downey Jr. appear in an uncredited cameo as Tony Stark, but William Hurt's portrayal of Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross began in that movie. Hurt would go onto appear in Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame and Black Widow. 

tl;dr: It's not like The Incredible Hulk fits cleanly into the MCU. 

Read next: the MCU is floundering — and Thor: Love and Thunder is proof.

Henry T. Casey
Senior Editor

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.