Fearing that another “enhanced” or Inhuman may force him to go on a rampage, Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) went into hiding after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Marvel Studios has had somewhat of a difficult time giving the character a new film of his own, as the first two previous attempts didn’t live up to expectations. But responses to his role in Avengers have shown that fans are interested in seeing the green giant get his own film. Rumors swirled that there could be a film adaptation of “Planet Hulk” or that Hulk may even appear in Captain America: Civil War.
But Marvel was quick to debunk both rumors, leaving Hulk’s whereabouts unknown. However, a new rumor has emerged saying that he may appear alongside Thor in Thor: Ragnarok. More on the story below.
JoBlo was the first to report on the news. According to them, Mark Ruffalo has joined the cast of Thor: Ragnarok. He joins returning cast members Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, and Jaimie Alexander, reprising their roles as Thor, Loki, and Sif, respectively.
Now, the biggest question is, if the rumors are true, how exactly did Hulk wind up in Asgard? Well, the site says that the Thor sequel will take place on a “distant planet” that is “not Asgard and not Earth.” It is unclear if this distant planet is from the pages of Marvel Comics or something newly created for the MCU, but the fact that it is a “distant planet” seems to indicate that Thor: Ragnarok could use elements of “Planet Hulk” comic book storyline in the film.
In the “Planet Hulk” story arc, Illuminati believes that the Hulk is an uncontrollable danger to Earth, and send him off to the far corners of space where he cannot hurt anyone. As Hulk listens to a recording from the Avengers explaining their actions, his shuttle crashes on the planet Sakaar. He is then captured, enslaved, and forced to fight gladiator battles for the planet’s emperor, the Red King. One of the Hulk’s major opponents just so happens to be the Silver Surfer.
So if Ragnarok were to use elements of “Planet Hulk” as a foundation, then there will have to be some major changes to the characters. Since Silver Surfer is technically a part of Fantastic Four franchise, he is unavailable for Marvel because Fox owns its film rights. However, in situations like these, characters are constantly being replaced. So there is a chance that Marvel could follow its 2010 animated film counterpart, where Beta Ray Bill replaced Silver Surfer, and Hulk does not conquer the planet, nor does he desire revenge on Earth. That could also work out in our favor as in the MCU Hulk chose to leave on his own.
This wouldn’t be the first time that a “Planet Hulk” storyline was rumored to be integrated into of the MCU’s films. James Gunn has continuously denied that Hulk would meet the Guardians in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and went as far as to call the rumor 100% bullshit.
Still, having a familiar Avenger in Thor: Ragnarok would benefit the fans and Marvel’s business. As aforementioned, the previous two Hulk films didn’t fare well at the box office, and the Thor films are by far the weakest in terms of office revenue, so the pairing, at least on paper, works. Plus, Marvel is now switching gears by turning these solo films into ensemble ones. Captain America: Civil War already features Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Vision. Practically all the core members of the Avengers. But small teases like Falcon being in Ant-Man also works. Hope Van Dyne will suit up in Ant-Man And The Wasp. Plus we haven’t seen Hulk in anything significant outside of Avengers (unless you count the after credits scene in Iron Man 3).
Thor: Ragnarok opens in theaters on November 3, 2017.