“Thor: Ragnarok” Is Sounding Like Our Third Hulk Film

For several years now, Marvel fans have been frustrated by the apparent refusal by the studio to consider another Hulk film. When Mark Ruffalo entered “The Avengers” as Bruce Banner […]

For several years now, Marvel fans have been frustrated by the apparent refusal by the studio to consider another Hulk film. When Mark Ruffalo entered “The Avengers” as Bruce Banner and we got our most entertaining version of the Hulk yet, there were immediate calls for a new standalone film.

Surely, after the Hulk’s scene-stealing debut, Marvel Studios would realize that it had finally found the formula for a successful translation of the iconic character to the big screen. However, Ruffalo and various studio figures, writers, and directors have continually thrown cold water on the idea of such a film.

Back in 2003, Ang Lee’s “Hulk” was actually among the first modern superhero movies, following “X-Men” and “Spider-Man” but preceding the dawn of the MCU by five years. Eric Bana was not a bad pick as Bruce Banner, and in the early stages the film had a few things going for it. But the CGI even at the time was incredibly cheesy, Nick Nolte’s performance as Dr. David Banner was abjectly absurd, and as a review by Slate put it, the film just never came to life. It was a serious missed opportunity, particularly given that it was all under the guidance of a director as gifted as Lee. Years later, the film’s greatest legacy is a half-decent video game that was designed by Radical Entertainment to accompany the release.

“The Incredible Hulk” (2008), however, represented a serious step. No, it wasn’t perfect, and in particular the final half hour unraveled a bit. But Edward Norton brought elite acting chops to superhero cinema in his turn as Banner, and the whole project just felt more stable and sure of itself. The film actually left a tangible legacy, technically carving out a spot in the MCU (despite being cast aside by some fans) and even being among the first Marvel films to start the trend of licensing to online gaming sites. Numerous licensed casino games at Gala Bingo employ characters from Marvel and other franchises, and yet there you’ll still find a title based on “The Incredible Hulk.” Ultimately an arcade slot reel infused with Hulk symbols and artwork, it effectively advertises the movie even eight years after release.

All this is to say that even before 2012’s “The Avengers,” Hulk had more of a presence than he gets credit for. Lee’s film at least had an effective Banner and planted the seed for future adaptations. As for “The Incredible Hulk,” it’s become underrated both with regard to its own quality and its influence on the MCU as a whole. But because neither was a great film, and both earned their shares of harsh criticism, the idea of a third solo effort has been squashed.

However, that doesn’t mean we won’t in one way or another be getting another Hulk movie. It might not be called “Hulk” or “The Incredible Hulk” or anything of the like, but if you pay attention to some of the recent headlines and bits of news trickling out of “Thor: Ragnarok,” this 2017 project is starting to sound a lot like a Hulk side film. Imagine a cosmic buddy hero flick with the Avengers’ two larger-than-life characters—both of whom missed out on the fun in “Captain America: Civil War”—and you might have about the right idea.

How do we know this? Well, we’ve had an idea for some time, because Ruffalo has been very conspicuously involved in the shooting for “Thor: Ragnarok.” But recently, a revealing post from Movie Pilot shed light on some more specific information that seems to indicate this might be as much a Hulk movie as a Thor one. The post pointed out that Hulk’s gladiator armor for the coming film has been revealed, and that little detail connects “Thor: Ragnarok” to the “Planet Hulk” comic storyline. For those who may be unfamiliar with it, it’s a very fun side story in which the Hulk is cast into space because he’s too dangerous to be on Earth. He ends up becoming enslaved as a gladiator on the planet he lands on before ultimately escaping.

We know that Thor will also be dealing with some pretty major issues, which could result in something along the lines of the annihilation of the entire universe if he’s not careful. And that’s the plot that will likely win out, because Hulk will inevitably end up assisting everyone’s favorite demigod in a cosmic battle for good. But if the Planet Hulk rumor is true—and it seems pretty concrete—this is going to be the closest we get to another individual Hulk movie. Go ahead: get excited.

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