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The Unapologetic Geek


Could Planet Hulk Be in the Works?

Planet Hulk
Pretty please?
Last weekend was San Diego Comic Con, one of the biggest (if not the biggest) geek events of the year. Marvel Studios has a long history at SDCC, usually with plenty of announcements and big news concerning the various properties in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I suppose Marvel talks about their comics, too, but who goes to Comic Con to hear about comics? Surprisingly, Marvel didn't have any big reveals this time around, other than the announcement for the already-assumed Guardians of the Galaxy 2, which is slated to come out in late July of 2017. We know there's an MCU film in the early stages of pre-production that is going to come out before that, however, which raises the question: why couldn't they announce whatever that is?

Before I get all crazy and start talking about why I think it might be possible that Marvel is secretly working on a film version of their popular Planet Hulk, let me make a clear disclaimer: this is sheer speculation. I have no evidence that is not circumstantial, nor do I have any inside information about the state of the MCU. Additionally, though I believe there's a good case here, I would not be surprised if I turn out to be completely wrong.

So, as a quick primer for those who don't know, Planet Hulk is a self-contained storyline in the Hulk comics that sees Hulk jettisoned into space by the good(ish) guys and landing on an alien planet where he is enslaved and forced into gladiatorial combat. He eventually breaks free and leads a revolution (while impregnating an alien chick), which ends with his building an army to take back to Earth in search of vengeance. The rumor has been floating around for quite a while now that Marvel is working on a film version of the story, but it has been largely dismissed for a variety of (good) reasons, which I will include below.

But make no mistakes, I do think the odds are good for Planet Hulk, if not in Phase 3 then perhaps sometime after that. If I had to put my nickel down, I'd bet on it being the unnamed movie coming out a few months before Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and I think both movies would naturally lead into the third Avengers movie, which would be released later that same year. Alas, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's just stick to Planet Hulk for now, and look at the best arguments for and against it coming to a theater near you in the not-too-distant future.

1. The Hulk is not a Good Box Office Performer
Ang Lee's Hulk

Of all the MCU movies released thus far, The Incredible Hulk has the worst box office numbers, by a significant margin. This isn't because it's a bad movie per se, but because the Hulk seems to be cursed by low enthusiasm. The Incredible Hulk has a ho-hum, been-there-done-that feel to it, probably because Ang Lee's Hulk was released only a few years earlier and because it distances itself from that failure by recalling the long-running television show from the 80's. Put simply, audiences don't seem that interested in a stand-alone Hulk movie, because it doesn't appear to offer anything new.

Mark Ruffalo getting green
1. Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner is Insanely Popular

Of all the Avengers to take the stage over the weekend, nobody got a warmer welcome from the fans than Mark Ruffalo. He got more cheers than Robert Downey, Jr. When Mark Ruffalo took the role of Bruce Banner from Edward Norton for The Avengers, the general opinion is that he shot it out of the park and that he (along with the writers, visual effects department, and Joss Whedon) finally got the character right. There were mumblings about fans wanting to see a sequel to The Incredible Hulk with Mark Ruffalo in the lead, and Kevin Feige was nothing but coy on the subject.

2. Planet Hulk does not Feature Bruce Banner
Edward Norton is shocked

One troubling aspect of the Planet Hulk storyline is that the Hulk never once reverts to Bruce Banner. Mark Ruffalo's Banner, then, would be 100% replaced by the motion-capture monster. The CG Hulk has always been troublesome for filmmakers to sell as a realistic character, and trying to put him in the spotlight as the sole protagonist is downright ridiculous. Heck, Planet Hulk doesn't even leave room for any other MCU characters to appear; the only familiar character involved is the Silver Surfer, and that character belongs to Fox right now. Granted, this all assumes that any Planet Hulk movie would follow the source pretty religiously and not take the liberty to include Bruce somehow in the story. That would be a delicate balancing act, though, as fans might react to Bruce Banner's inclusion the way they would to Judge Dredd taking his helmet off on screen.

The Hulkbuster concept art
2. The Rumor Mill Thinks Age of Ultron Might End with Hulk Sent Away

Spoiler: we know for a fact that there's going to be some conflict involving the Hulk in Avengers: Age of Ultron. We know that, at some point, Tony Stark is going to have to put on his "Hulkbuster" armor to fight the big guy. We also know that the movie is probably going to end on a down note, given that Whedon keeps comparing it to The Empire Strikes Back and saying that "death" is an important motif. Planet Hulk begins with Hulk being exiled into space. Put all of that together, and the possibility kind of presents itself. As an additional point, if this rumor is true, it would explain why Planet Hulk hasn't been announced yet: Marvel doesn't want to flat-out confirm how Age of Ultron is going to end.

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-e. magill 7/30/2014


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