The hammer-wielding Asgardian god is back in theaters on November 3rd in Thor: Ragnarok, the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The upcoming film is sure to deliver its usual paradoxical agenda – satiating our itch for action-packed thrills, but with deeper economic and political commentary on destabilization and power.
Between Chris Hemsworth’s freshly shaven hair, cast additions like Cate Blanchett and Jeff Goldblum, and the gladiatorial showdown between the God of Thunder and Hulk, fans are already thirsting for more juicy clips of the series threequel. So, how exactly does Hulk play a role in the Thor: Ragnarok movie?
Wait. The Hulk, You Say??
If you’re wondering how the green superhuman became intertwined with the Ragnarok storyline, you’re not alone. The chilly encounter emanates from a story arc that Marvel introduced to The Incredible Hulk comics back in 2006, known as Planet Hulk.
Trickery & Spectator Shenanigans
In Planet Hulk, the ominously-named Illuminati, comprised of characters like Iron Man and Doctor Strange, conspire against Hulk, believing his precarious, destructive behavior jeopardizes the safety of Earth’s inhabitants. Through deceit, they launch Hulk into space via a ship commissioned by S.H.I.E.L.D.
His intended destination was to be a peaceful, uninhabited planet; however, Marvel clearly thought that story would be snooze-worthy. Instead, they sent his ship hurtling towards a wormhole, where it was swallowed by darkness and redeposited on the planet Sakaar.
The Illuminati’s plan for a secluded eviction from Earth is quickly derailed by Hulk’s discovery of Sakaar’s corrupt regime and its ruler, the Red King. Mirroring ancient Roman times, where droves of spectators salivated for an entertaining bloodbath, the Red King’s proclivity for enslaving citizens ends with forced gladiator-esque battles between those in captivity.
Sakaar’s close proximity to the wormhole enables the planet to acquire a myriad of technological gadgets and alien species – who are involuntarily subjected to the empire’s barbaric contents and overall oppression. After Hulk is imprisoned by the empire, he is fitted with a control slug (a.k.a. rectifier of disobedient behavior), and tossed into the Imperial Arena for combat.
A Hulk Story with an Unhappy Ending
Angry and enslaved, Hulk teams up with a band of gladiators known as the Warbound. A fight is arranged that pits Hulk against the Silver Surfer, who is under the influence of a control unit identical to the one implanted in Hulk. With the help of his Warbound comrades, Hulk overpowers the Silver Surfer, obliterating his obedience disk and freeing him from the empire’s command. Once released, the Silver Surfer channels his cosmic powers to destroy everyone’s control disks in the arena.
Silver Surfer offers to bring Hulk back to Earth, but he declines. Besides his green-hued skin, Hulk’s online dating profile would probably look something like this: Low IQ level, impulsive outbursts due to lack of control and thunderous clapping abilities. So, for him to decide to stay on Sakaar in lieu of a potential revenge trip back to Earth is quite noteworthy. We see more of his ability to strategize when he’s faced with the Red King’s attempts to squash him and his collection of followers.
Along with an army of pissed-off, once-enslaved beings, Hulk leads a revolution to overthrow their ruthless emperor. Hulk is challenged to a one-on-one battle with the Red King’s right-hand woman, Caiera. However, the duel is cut short when the Red King unleashes a swarm of deadly spikes. When Caiera learns that her master deployed the spikes, which annihilated her village, she joins forces with Hulk to destroy the capital.
In true Hulk fashion, he pulverizes the Red King and secures his reign as the new ruler of Sakaar (quite impressive for a character that has anger management issues and is notorious for punching things).
The former enemies, Hulk and Caiera, decide to escalate their relationship to an NC-17 rating, which culminates in marriage and a pregnancy. Spoiler alert: Marvel hates happy endings. Instead of hand-holding and laughter, they opted for a self-destructing spacecraft:
After being converted into a monument, the ship that originally transported Hulk to Sakaar ends up detonating, resulting in an explosion that demolishes the city and delivers a death blow to Hulk’s beloved Caiera.
And alas, we welcome back our favorite enraged green giant. While Caiera (partially) manages to pull through, as do Hulk’s children, he overlooks these particular details, fixated on his disdain for the Avengers crew. Hulk leaves Sakaar with his Warbound in tow, en route to seek vengeance on Earth, leading us into the next series – World War Hulk.
The Fusion of Hulk and Thor
Taika Waititi’s unconventional directorial vision married with the loosely-adapted elements from Planet Hulk’s popular story arc will surely set this film apart from its predecessors. The trailer highlights some notable alterations to the Planet Hulk story arc, such as the faceoff between Thor and Hulk taking place at the hands of the Grandmaster versus the Red King.
So, how much screen time will Hulk receive in Thor: Ragnarok? Unfortunately, that is yet to be determined. The flick will most likely lay the groundwork for Hulk’s appearance in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War movie. It will also be interesting to see how writers integrate Hulk into the storyline, since the Illuminati have yet to make their debut in the MCU franchise.
So, What Happened to Hulk After Age of Ultron??
As a quick recap, Hulk has been accounted for since he cruised away in a Quinjet at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron. At the film’s conclusion, it was suggested that the Quinjet crash-landed somewhere off the coast of Fiji, yet the wreckage (nor the remnants of a giant green body) were ever recovered. In the 2016 adaptation of Captain America: Civil War, Thaddeus Ross, Secretary of State, makes a brief reference to Hulk, advising that he is, in fact, still missing.
It’s plausible that Marvel will justify Hulk’s appearance by explaining that the Quinjet was never actually on a collision course for the South Pacific, but rather, it flew into space where it eventually made its unanticipated debut on Sakaar. They could also create a scenario where the Grandmaster or Valkyrie is culpable for luring Hulk to Sakaar. As we see in the Ragnarok trailer, Valkyrie is the catalyst for Thor becoming a contender, thereby making her suspect in baiting Hulk to the tyrannous planet as well.
Final Thoughts on the Battle of the Beauty vs. the Beast
While the Planet Hulk storyline won’t be fully adapted in Ragnarok, Waititi has confirmed that it will stay faithful enough to the comic to satisfy fans – a classic Marvel formula that has manifested into movie magic year after year. He also announced that two other characters from Planet Hulk, Miek and Korg, will be making an appearance in the film. Hulk fanatics have been campaigning for a live-action rendering of the popular storyline for years (be sure to check out the animated version when you get a chance!). At last, their pleas for screen time will be a reality when Thor: Ragnarok hits theaters on November 3rd.