WARNING: SPOILERS ... to be taken with a Hulk-sized grain of salt.
Now that the Hulk has smashed alien invaders, puny gods and about half of New York City, is it time for him to take his incredible-ness to another planet?
Mark Ruffalo's nervously nonchalant Bruce Banner (the best Banner since Bill Bixby, hands down) and his suddenly heroic Hulk were two of the best things about "The Avengers," the film that finally got the gamma-rayed behemoth right after Ang Lee's noble failure, "Hulk" (2003), and the film that Marvel Studios really seems to want you to forget, "The Incredible Hulk" (2008). His scene-stealing performance had everyone wondering if we'd be seeing another stand-alone "Hulk" movie -- one that both Marvel and its fans could be proud of.
Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige stated in an interview with MTV last September that there won't be a stand-alone Hulk movie until after "The Avengers 2" (May 2015). He also said that he was a fan of both the "Planet Hulk" and "World War Hulk" comic book storylines and that future film adaptations of those epic yarns certainly aren't out of the question.
"I don't think there's a lot that we couldn't do some day, as the cinematic universe continues to grow and expand and get as big as the comic book universe," Feige said. "'Planet Hulk' is a cool story. 'World War Hulk' is a cool story."
Feige has some reservations about "Planet Hulk," though, as, like its hero, it might just be too big for its own good.
"I think there's pitfalls of continuity-overload, and mythology getting so dense that it almost collapses in on itself," he said. "It happens every few decades or so in the comics. Apart from that, I'd say everything is on the table."
Now, thanks to some detective work by Latino Review, we have news of that material possibly being taken off the table and put in front of cameras sooner rather than later.
As summarized by Collider, the Hulk could be a big star in Marvel's Phase Three, with the third act or at least post-credits scene of "The Avengers 2" setting up the stand-alone Hulk movie. It looks like that film could indeed be an adaptation of Greg Pak's "Planet Hulk," which involves the green one being banished to outer space by the Illuminati, a secret organization of powerful heroes including Tony Stark and Doctor Strange (who's set to be introduced in Phase Three with his own film). Hulk ends up being enslaved on the planet Sakaar, where he's forced to participate in gladiatorial games and eventually becomes a hero of the people and a leader in the rebellion against the corrupt Red King.
Now backed up by an army, the Hulk prepares to return to Earth and exact his revenge. This leads us to "The Avengers 3," which could be an adaptation of "World War Hulk" (also by Greg Pak), in which Hulk and his minions beat the holy hell out of almost every superhero on Earth and force them to fight each other for their own gladiatorial amusement.
Who knows if any of this is true, and either way of course expect Marvel to deny everything. But if any of this is even in just the "discussion" stages, Mark Ruffalo -- who's apparently signed a six-picture deal with Marvel -- must be jumping up and down with joy at the prospect of taking center stage with these (literally) kick-ass plots.
No matter what ends up coming to pass, we're just happy that there will be more Hulk smashing. For now, let's take it one movie at a time, starting with "Iron Man 3" setting off Phase Two on May 3.