If you ask Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige, Avengers star Mark Ruffalo, or Guardians of the Galaxy writer-director James Gunn about the potential for a Planet Hulk story in the Marvel Cinematic Universe they will say (and have repeatedly said) the same thing; There are no plans for Planet Hulk/World War Hulk adaptations, nor are there plans for a new standalone, solo Hulk movie.
So where is Bruce Banner a.k.a. Hulk going at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron and what's next for the character? Rumors indicated that the original plan was to see Hulk fly off at the end of the Avengers sequel in the team's Quinjet into space but that turned out not to be the case so he's seemingly somewhere on Earth, hiding in isolation. As we learned this week however, when Hulk returns it will be in a story off-Earth.
Mark Ruffalo has four more movies on this contract with Marvel but readily admits it could be extended. It was confirmed last week that he's currently finalizing his deal to appear in Thor: Ragnarok where - as also reported last week - he'll have a major role in a cosmic buddy adventure with Chris Hemsworth. And he'll be on a planet that we understand is neither Asgard nor Earth...
Does that mean he's on some sort of Planet Hulk style alien world or simply another one of the Nine Realms from Marvel's take on Norse Mythology? That's question one. Question two is how and why Hulk gets there.
We suspect the story of Thor: Ragnarok - which reportedly will have another new writer joining the creative team to lighten its tone because it's apparently too dark - will be mostly set off-Earth. And given the film title and effect it'll have on the MCU as described by Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige, we should be seeing Muspelheim, home of Surtur and the Fire Demons who are integral to the story of Ragnarok. But how does Hulk get involved in that mess? Here's what the basic options boil down to:
- Thor recruits Hulk to help him save the universe.
- Thor rescues Hulk who's been taken off-Earth by Loki or some other alien antagonist.
- A third party on Earth sends Hulk off-world.
For Thor 3 to bring back supporting cast members Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings), and Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård), parts of the film must bring the titular hero back to Earth. Given the all-seeing powers of Asgardian guard Heimdall (Idris Elba), Thor could potentially seek his assistance in locating Banner to bring him up off-world that way, perhaps even offering to help Banner in his quest of distancing himself from areas populated with innocent lives where he could be a danger.