Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) gets underway this year, with The Avengers director Joss Whedon shepherding the studio's forthcoming wave of superhero movies. Details on his script for The Avengers 2 (not the official title) are currently under-wraps, so recent speculation has focused on rumors about how much or little the sequel takes place in space - especially since it's arriving on the heels of Guardians of the Galaxy, which Marvel President of Production Kevin Feige has revealed will take place primarily far away from Earth.
Last month, fresh rumors popped up suggesting that Avengers 2 concludes on a note that sets the stage for the Planet Hulk and World War Hulk comic book storylines to be realized onscreen during Phase Three of the MCU. However, last week, conflicting reports emerged claiming that Planet Hulk is not one of the future stories Whedon and the rest of the Marvel brain trust are considering right now.
IGN recently interviewed Whedon about his Shakespeare adaptation Much Ado About Nothing (which opens in June), when they asked the filmmaker point-blank about the possibility of either Planet Hulk or World War Hulk movies in Phase Three. He responded:
"Well I’m really not supposed to comment, but no, that’s nonsense."
Now, is Whedon's official denial going to be the final nail in that Planet Hulk rumor's coffin? Well, no, for better or for worse, not after the previous denials from Marvel employees proved to be false. (Remember No Thanos in The Avengers? Or how Ben Kingsley isn't playing The Mandarin in Iron Man 3?) However, coming from Whedon, this debunking has more credibility - in part because he spoke just last week about Hulk standalone movies being tough to pull off as is (much less, something on as massive scale like Planet Hulk or WWH).
So, assuming Whedon isn't lying, where does that leave preliminary speculation about the plot for Avengers 2? We know the filmmaker is planning to "go deeper" on the sequel and put Earth's Mightiest Heroes through a whole lot of emotional turmoil, which could even result in a character or two ending up dead. However, just how much death will be a part of the sequel - as opposed to "Death," the objection of Thanos' obsession - is a matter being debated among members of the geek community right now.
Meanwhile, it seems Marvel will continue branching out further into space and the cosmic realms with upcoming movies, despite the lack of plans for Planet Hulk. That includes Guardians during Phase Two, followed by a Doctor Strange film in Phase Three - and maybe something like The Inhumans down the line - all beginning after Iron Man 3, which it appears will indeed see Tony Stark heading into outer space at some point, most likely in the customary post-credits scene.
Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe begins when Iron Man 3 releases May 3rd, 2013, followed by Thor: The Dark World on November 8th, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4th, 2014, and Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1st, 2014. It concludes with The Avengers 2 on May 1st, 2015.
Phase Three begins when Ant-Man releases on November 6th, 2015.