The Hulk is no one’s sidekick or no one’s side-story for that matter, yet that is what the green goliath has been relegated to in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the Thor: Ragnarok teaser trailer we see Thor getting ready to battle Hulk in a gladiatorial arena.
As awesome as this looks and may turn out to be in the movie, there is one slight problem; this version of Hulk is taken from Planet Hulk and he has nothing to do with Thor: Ragnarok.
Planet Hulk is about the Hulk being trapped on a world named Sakaar where he must compete in gladiator fights because of an obedience disk attached to him by the planet’s emperor. He landed on this world because the Marvel Illuminati (Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Professor X, King Black Bolt, Black Panther, and Namor) deemed Hulk too dangerous and unpredictable to be allowed to remain on Earth. They tricked him and got him on a rocket then proceeded to blast him off to another galaxy.
Planet Hulk was a great story arch for the character, reinvigorating interest and love for the Hulk for new and older fans. The 13 issue series delved into the Hulk’s psyche and shined a new light on him. Fans got to see a deeper, more caring side of the Hulk as he helped free a world of people from a ruthless tyrant. Hulk also found love with a new wife who was pregnant with his child but it was short-lived. Due to a self-destruct switch placed on the ship the Illuminati sent Hulk away on, his pregnant wife died and his new found home was destroyed. Usually, Hulk stories split between the perspectives of Bruce Banner’s struggle with the Hulk and vice versa. This time around we got to see the Hulk only and learn a lot about him and why he is the way he is.
A story such as Planet Hulk is deserving of its own movie but if what is shown in the Thor: Ragnarok teaser is any indication, that will not happen. That leaves me wondering, why? Ragnarok is another great story in Marvel comics and is perfectly fine on its own. We’re talking about the destruction of Asgard here, an event that affected the entire Marvel Universe for years. So much more material could have been pulled from both stories and set up character stories in the MCU for years to come. Not to mention, I don’t know any Marvel comics or Hulk fan who doesn’t want to see a World War Hulk movie. The crossover comic event where the Hulk returns to Earth for revenge against the Illuminati and nearly splits the world in half.
So the question must be asked, why has Marvel Studios relegated Hulk to team-ups and side stories but not his own standalone movie?
It seems ever since The Incredible Hulk failed to pull in big numbers making a meager $263,427,551 dollars on a $150 million dollar budget, Marvel has not had faith in his character. There was also a huge contract dispute with Edward Norton over the character and how his story should go and whether he would be a good fit for Avengers. Marvel got rid of Norton and picked up Mark Ruffalo who did an amazing job as Banner/Hulk in the first Avengers movie. I have mixed feelings about his role in Age Of Ultron and about the movie as a whole; putting my bias aside, I think Edward Norton played the better Bruce Banner and fit the physical character description well but I know many will disagree.
The Incredible Hulk was released by Universal but is technically considered a Marvel Studios property and they have a chance here to make an amazing Hulk movie if they just take the chance. He’s becoming a sideshow of sorts now and being treated in the MCU as Black Widow, Falcon, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and the list goes on. This type of thinking is dangerous because, by pigeon holing a character as big as Hulk into other vehicles and not his own, Marvel Studios is running the risk of losing variety with their characters and ultimately becoming more formulaic which will eventually start to detract audiences. As fantastic as characters like Doctor Strange, Guardians Of The Galaxy or even Captain Marvel are, they lack the visceral energy of a character like Hulk. There are few characters in Marvel as relatable as him because who can’t relate to a character who loses his cool when his patience is pushed to the breaking point? The Hulk is a metaphor for humanity and how destructive we can be when we let go of ourselves and let our rage take control.
His character is violent and heartbreaking and needs a movie to express those aspects; that movie should probably be R-rated. Disney is not known for making movies that are rated R but if we have learned anything from the success of Deadpool, the audience is there. Deadpool has proven it can be done, to the tune of $783,112,979 dollars worldwide on a $58 million dollar budget. Also, just like Deadpool, the Hulk has a rabid fanbase that doesn’t want to see him just be in other characters movies as a side story or sidekick but in his own movie doing what he does best…SMASH!!!