[Update: We now have a clip from Planet Hulk]
On February 2nd Marvel Animation will unveil their newest animated feature, Planet Hulk, which is based on writer Greg Pak’s 2006-2007 storyline from The Incredible Hulk comic books.
I had a chance to catch a screening of Planet Hulk this past week, and I have to say: It’s pretty entertaining. Greg Pak’s storyline helped catapult the Hulk back into limelight (no pun) and not having read the comic, I could see why after viewing the movie: this is the kind of Hulk story people want to see. It’s Hulk totally unleashed and smashing things harder than ever, with characters and villains who are more of a match for the green giant – and best of all, a story in which Hulk, the monster, is transformed into a bonafide hero.
The premise of Planet Hulk is simple: a secret cabal of Earth’s heroes (including Iron Man and Reed Richards) decide that Bruce Banner, the Hulk, has caused enough destruction and death. With no cure for Banner’s condition and no conceivable way to kill the Hulk, the heroes decide on a third option: shoot the Hulk into space to be marooned on a distant planet where he can live undisturbed. The plan goes off without a hitch at first, but somewhere along the rocket’s flight Hulk breaks loose and crash lands on a savage planet where he is quickly enslaved as a gladiator in a deadly arena.
There are other gladiators trapped along with Hulk and they quickly band together for survival, imploring that Hulk join their group. But Hulk’s only concern is defeating the evil Red King who has imprisoned him, along with the king’s “shadow guardian,” Caiera, whose unique powers make her more than a match for Hulk. The gladiators are sent into the arena again and again to face nightmarish monsters, and with each victory, Hulk’s bravery and might make him a champion of the people, who regard him as the prophesied savior of their world.
As Hulk smashes his way through the gladiator arena, he finds that there is more to the red king and this mysterious planet than initially meets the eye, forcing Hulk to make the choice between continuing his existence as a lonely monster, or doing what is right and becoming a hero. The big guy even manages to find a little love along the way .
Planet Hulk was directed by Sam Liu, who also helmed the animated feature Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. The animation and production values of Planet Hulk are pretty strong, and in terms of look, the film has an anime polish to it. However, if you aren’t a fan of anime, don’t worry – this film is pretty much Spartacus the Marvel superhero version. An old-school action and adventure epic.
I was fairly surprised by how violent and bloody the film is. Granted, Hulk bleeding is actually a pretty big part of the story (his gamma irradiated blood has a particular effect on the alien planet), but still, people get mangled, sliced, diced, crushed, ripped to shreds, stabbed, fried, mutated and generally wiped out in genocide-style mass murders. There are also some pretty freaky monsters and aliens that appear in the film – Planet Hulk is definitely more for big kids than the small ones.
As for the fanboys who read the storyline in the comics, there were some major changes made for this standalone animated feature. Without giving away any SPOILERS:
- Only Hulk appears in the film, no Bruce Banner.
- Because other studios (Fox) still own rights to certain Marvel franchises, characters that appeared in the Planet Hulk comic had to be omitted or substituted.
- The film ends at an earlier point in the story than the comic did.
- Some of the minor sci-fi details (alien languages, etc.) were simplified for the movie.
- Don’t blink: there are plenty of Easter-eggs buried throughout the film, including appearances by notable characters from the “Marvel Cosmic” universe.
Though some fanboys at the screening raised issues with these changes, most were still cool with how the film turned out – as was writer Greg Pak, who was seeing the film for the first time.
In the end, Planet Hulk – like last year’s Hulk Vs. feature – showcases the big green guy doing what he does best (SMASHING THINGS!) this time on a scale that is both imaginative and pretty awesome to behold. The fights are cool, the “Clint Eastwood” version of the Hulk we get is pretty badass and the visuals, music and production values are all pretty tight as well.
Update: Check out the trailer and a clip for Planet Hulk:
Check back here closer to the release date for an updated review of the DVD/Blu-ray features.
Update Source: MTV Splash Page