According to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, there’s a good reason why Planet Hulk was adapted for Thor: Ragnarok. For years now, Marvel fans have been hoping for a new Hulk solo film to tackle one of the character’s most popular stories. After The Incredible Hulk helped launch the MCU in 2008 – back when Edward Norton played Bruce Banner – the complicated rights issues for the character have kept Marvel and Disney from following it up. Instead, the Hulk and Bruce Banner have been fleshed out as a supporting character(s) in the last two Avengers movies. Now, Thor: Ragnarok will help to kick off a new trilogy for the Hulk.
When the Hulk took off in Quinjet at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, many fans speculated that the hero was heading off to space. The idea was that a solo Hulk film was in fact on the way, and that it would adapt Greg Pak’s Planet Hulk story. That arc sees the Jade Giant leave his Bruce Banner persona and the Earth behind. Eventually, he ends up on Sakaar and gets wrapped up in the planet’s gladiator games. Of course, hopes for the film were squashed when the first teaser for Thor: Ragnarok showed much of the same things unfolding. But there was a good reason for combining the two stories.
We spoke with Kevin Feige at the Thor: Ragnarok press junket and asked why it is that Planet Hulk was chosen for inclusion in the new film and how it ties into Marvel’s future plans for the Hulk.
“Because when we were thinking about what other Marvel players to bring into Thor’s story, which was important to us, it was important to Chris [Hemsworth], he had looked and seen Captain America get Black Widow and Iron Man, and all of these other players and he goes, “Mate, who’s coming into my movies?” And as we were thinking about that, number one, with Thor, more so than any of the other players, he’s got an amazing cast of characters in his books. So certainly, one of your questions about Sif, I’m jokingly pushing aside, but really it was we wanted to see Valkyrie in this movie. We wanted to introduce Hela in this movie, and there’s Balder and there’s Beta Ray Bill and there’s still people we haven’t done yet because he’s got such a great cast of characters. But in terms of other Marvel characters we kept thinking about how fun it would be if we took our two most heroic, most powerful characters, Thor and Hulk. Pit them against each other and but also play the humor and the fish out of water humor between Thor and Banner. And that lead us to, maybe that plane at the end of Ultron did go into space, and maybe this is a chance to see Gladiator Hulk.”
From what Feige says, the plan after Age of Ultron wasn’t necessarily to bring Hulk into space. If that’s the case, it makes sense why reports indicating as much were vigorously denied after the film’s release. In all likelihood, the idea was simply to separate Hulk from the team ahead of Captain America: Civil War. And when Thor did the same, a perfect opportunity emerged for not just the characters, but to bolster the Thor three-quel and give both he and Hulk a fresh new start so to speak under the unique vision of director Taika Waititi.
The other exciting thing about Feige’s statement is he namedrops other Asgardian characters like Beta Ray Bill and Balder showing up in the future. In the comics and Norse mythology, Balder is the brother of Thor. He also recently took over Hel, something we could see a tease for in Thor: Ragnarok. As for Beta Ray Bill, he has a long history with Thor as both an ally and fellow hammer-wielder. There’s even an Easter egg for the character in next month’s movie, hinting that he could be arriving soon. Whether any more clues are present, we’ll just have to wait for Thor: Ragnarok to find out.
KEY RELEASE DATES
Thor: Ragnarok release date: Nov 3, 2017
Black Panther release date: Feb 16, 2018
The Avengers: Infinity War release date: May 4, 2018
Ant-Man & The Wasp release date: Jul 6, 2018
Captain Marvel release date: Mar 8, 2019
The Avengers 4 / Untitled Avengers Movie release date: May 3, 2019
Untitled Spider-Man: Homecoming Sequel release date: Jul 5, 2019