Why I Think PLANET HULK And WORLD WAR HULK Movies Can Work
After the alleged scoop that Latino Review's El Mayimbe dropped yesterday, many comic fan sites have been in an uproar over the potential ramification that Planet Hulk and World War Hulk movies have on Phase 3 of the MCU. Specifically, many fans are perturbed by this as they feel a Planet Hulk film sounds silly if not unlikely. At the same time, they feel portraying Hulk as a villain in Avengers 3 would be taking a step backwards from what they believe made the Hulk so popular in the first Avengers film. I, however, disagree with those two lines of thought and feel that they are in part influenced by a misconception of what exactly made Hulk popular in The Avengers and how a World War Hulk storyline would be handled in The Avengers 3. In this piece I will be breaking down the argument for why Planet Hulk and World War Hulk can work in Phase 3 of the MCU by addressing the criticisms of going in such a route.
Planet Hulk and World War Hulk offer natural progressions for the character and present the best avenues to portray the Hulk on the big screen. Read on for my take on why this is something that could work very well, and why we should be looking forward to it.
Argument 1: The reason Hulk was so popular in the Avengers was because Marvel portrayed him as a hero
This is a misconception. The reason Hulk was a crowd pleaser and fan favorite in the Avengers is not particularly because he was played up as a hero but because we finally got to see the Hulk we've all wanted; one that smashes puny aliens and gods and looks cool while doing it. One that grins at the prospect of smashing something and has hilariously timed quips. Part of the problem with the first two Hulk movies was that the Hulk was only portrayed as a rampaging green monster and they didn't even attempt to touch on the comedic aspect of the character or, dare I say, his adorable side. The Avengers finally offered us a chance to see that and, wouldn't you know it, Marvel struck gold with it. So, from that Marvel realized that one of the ingredients necessary for a successful Hulk movie is depicting not only the giant green monster aspect of the character but the more comedic side of the Huk.
Argument 2: A Planet Hulk movie would be too silly for the general audience to buy into
A movie focused on a giant green monster is already silly in the first place. If there's anything that Marvel learned from Phase 1 about Hulk it's that audiences are willing to buy into the character, just not in the way they were portraying him in the first Hulk movie. Audiences don't want to see the Hulk being chased around by United States military for an entire movie nor do they want to see him fighting against regular people who he can't smash for obvious reasons. Planet Hulk offers Marvel the chance to capitalize on what I explained made him popular in the Avengers by giving him real threats that he can physically smash without horrifying families and their kids. It also presents the opportunity to show what the Hulk can be like without being chased around and on the run; what he can be like when he has an agenda.
Argument 3: Having the Hulk shot into space would be a step backward from what Marvel finally established in the Avengers
You could look at it that, or you could look at it as a natural progression of the character that works with what Joss Whedon said about digging a knife into the team. The Hulk is only going to be able to work with the Avengers for so long before the fact that he is a rage based monster rears its head again. No matter what, it's inevitable that Banner is going to lose control somehow. If not lose control, framed and used by someone. The Hulk character is, at its core, a tragic hero and ultimately must always be played up that way after a certain point. However, what Planet Hulk does is explore that tragic hero aspect of the character in a much more interesting light than traditional Hulk stories do. As I mentioned earlier, rather than play up the Hulk as a monster on the run, Planet Hulk shows us a much more contemporary tragic hero who has been betrayed by his allies and sent into exile. The Hulk, rather than run, must fight his way through an unknown planet to survive and conquer and eventually extract his revenge on the people who betrayed him. When I think about the type of character Hulk is played up as in Planet Hulk I think of a funnier version of Kratos. It has the potential to be gold on the big screen.
Argument 4: Having Hulk portrayed as a villain in Avengers 3 would hurt toy sales and wouldn't give the audience anyone to root for
This would be a valid argument if Hulk were to be the main villain of Avengers 3, which he in all likelihood will not be. In the MCU, Marvel Studios takes multiple storylines from the comics and combines them all into one film, an amalgamation if you will. The World War Hulk storyline would be just one element of a much bigger plot going on in the film. It's possible that Hulk returns to Earth with the true villain of the film and plans to extract revenge on the people who (he thinks at least) betrayed him, but ends up rejoining the Avengers through the course of the film and helps them take down the main antagonist. This would offer a great feel-good moment in the film and bring the Hulk's journey which began in The Avengers 2 to a satisfying conclusion and further vindicate the Hulk as a true hero. If anything, this plotline could help boost Hulk toy sales, not hurt them.
Argument 5: Bruce Banner would not be in the film enough, which is a problem because Mark Ruffalo's performance was a highlight of the Avengers
One of the faults in the first two films (see a pattern here?) is that they focused far too much on Bruce Banner when audiences came to see the Hulk. Banner has already proven he can't carry a movie, the Hulk probably can. Banner can work in spurts, especially with the wry sense of humor Ruffalo brings to the role, but too much of him just gets stale. A 70% Hulk, 30% Banner split is probably the best option.
Argument 6: Planet Hulk would be too expensive
If Marvel can make a Guardians of the Galaxy movie, they can make a Planet Hulk movie. 'Nuff said.
Argument 7: There is not enough time nor characters to introduce the Illuminati into the MCU
The MCU already has an Illuminati...they're called the World Security Council, who we saw in The Avengers.
Argument 8: Why would they shoot Hulk into space anyway?
As I said earlier, these movies are amalgamations of many comic book storylines. The Avengers combined several elements of the 616 Avengers line of comics with the Ultimate universe's equivalent, the Ultimates. In the 616 universe, the set up for Planet Hulk is that the Illuminati are fed up with the Hulk's actions and vote to ship him out to space. Now, the reasoning for this in the MCU could be pulled from the Ultimates 2 comics, which shows that public opinion has turned against the Hulk when it is discovered he has murdered hundreds of people. Now, obviously the Hulk won't be murdering people in the Avengers 2, but the basic concept could be the same.
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