Will Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Be a Big Screen Planet Hulk?

Guardians of the Galaxy 2

When Marvel announced their Phase 3 movie lineup – which consists of Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Inhumans, and Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 and Part 2 – they broke the internet, or at least my news feed.  The internet exploded with fans’ excited reactions to seeing their favorite heroes introduced to, return to or conspicuously absent from the big screen for the foreseeable future.

These nine films, scheduled to be released over the course of three years, have provided fans ample material to theorize about.  How do you adapt Civil War without secret identities?  Who’s going to be cast as Captain Marvel?  What exactly is Hulk doing between Avengers movies?  What is the unrevealingly named Guardian of the Galaxy 2’s plot going to be?

These last two questions, at least – where’s Banner and what’s Guardians of the Galaxy 2 about – may be directly connected to one another.  At least, that’s what the internet seems to be increasingly convinced of.  In fact, it can be summed up in the theoretically unreleased full title for the cosmically-themed film – Guardians of the Galaxy 2: Planet Hulk.

Planet Hulk

Although a longshot, this crossover makes a lot more sense than you may at first think.  Consider the fact that Kevin Feige did not want to reveal which specific characters were in which specific Phase 3 movie, since that would spoil how Age of Ultron would end.  What was not only one of the key images from Age of Ultron’s trailer, but one of the first images spoiled from the set of the film?  Hulk locked in mortal combat against Tony Stark’s Hulkbuster Armor.

And what is the central premise of Planet Hulk?  Despite his best intentions, the Hulk (and subsequently Banner) is too dangerous to be allowed to remain on Earth and is shot into space in the interests of global security by none other than Tony Stark.  It is a perfectly natural progression of Tony’s commitment to protecting his country from all threats – foreign and domestic – to sacrifice his well-intentioned friend for the good of the entire planet.

In fact, this could very well be the lead in to Captain America: Civil War.  A “giant green rage monster” that has already visibly laid a swath of destruction across the globe and has already been hunted by the United States government for being a living weapon of mass destruction would be the perfect occasion to bring into question the need for a superhero registration act.  And, much as in the comic version of Civil War, Tony’s desire to regulate civil liberties of exceptionally powerful – and exceptionally dangerous – individuals puts him in direct opposition of Captain America’s, the living embodiment of “the greatest generation,” opposition to fascism.

This would also explain why a Hulk sequel was not announced for Phase 3, despite his increasing popularity since The Avengers.  It would also explain why Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was the only Phase 3 sequel to not get a subtitle.  Captain America gets Civil War, Thor gets Ragnarok and both Avengers get Infinity War.  I somehow doubt that Guardians of the Galaxy – the central hub for every obscure bit of cosmic lore floating around the Marvel Cinematic Universe – could get away with a sequel that doesn’t set itself up in the title.

Guardians of the Galaxy

In fact, let’s take a look back at what we saw in Guardians of the Galaxy.  The militants employed by Ronan the Accuser were not just some random galactic thugs.  They were Sakaarans, and the only real relevance of planet Sakaar in the Marvel Universe is that, you guessed it, that’s where Planet Hulk takes place.  There’s already some – admittedly fleeting – precedent for that particular story in the MCU.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Planet Hulk would also serve an incredibly important narrative function within the Marvel Cinematic Universe: connecting the terrestrial-based Avengers with the cosmically-based Guardians of the Galaxy, a team that is completely composed of characters with every reason to oppose Thanos’ acquisition of the Infinity Stones, which will doubtless come to a head in Infinity War.  The problem is that despite a mutual enemy and Star Lord’s connection with the Earth, there is little and less to bring the two teams together.

But by inserting Banner / Hulk into their cosmic setting, forcing him to interact with the ragtag team of heroes, it creates an obvious connecting point between the two impossibly distant franchises.  It makes it not just possible, but increasingly likely that the exiled Banner will return to lead the Guardians’ charge against the Earth-bound Thanos at some point during Infinity Wars.

This could even build to a solo Phase 4 film for everybody’s favorite herculean monster – Incredible Hulk 2: World War Hulk – in which Banner gets revenge on the very people who cast him into space in the first place (ie, Stark).  That’s an even longer shot than Planet Hulk, admittedly, but still not nearly as much of a long shot as the first Guardians of the Galaxy was.

One Response

  1. Nick Verboon November 6, 2014

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