Ever since the Hulk stole The Avengers right out from under his teammates, people have been wondering if we might get yet another standalone Hulk movie with current Banner actor Mark Ruffalo. There have been all kinds of rumors flying over the past year or so about how that might happen, if indeed it did, and one of those suggested that perhaps we might see a big-screen adaptation of the Planet Hulk storyline from the comics, which saw the Hulk banished from Earth and basically taking over the warlike planet where he lands, eventually returning to Earth at the head of an army and seeking revenge on the folks that booted him off the planet in the first place. In recent days, Ruffalo has been shooting down the possibility of a Planet Hulk movie…but could those rumors be hiding a kernel of truth after all?
Drew McWeeny of HitFix thinks so, and thanks to an Avengers: Age of Ultron set visit, he thinks he’s got enough clues to speculate about just what the future might hold for the Hulk on the big-screen, and how the character could play a pivotal role in Marvel’s Phase 3 movies. It’s mostly speculation on both his part and ours, but McWeeny does reveal one small but crucial element from the end of Age of Ultron, and specifically the predicament in which the Hulk/Banner finds himself, so consider this your…
So, apparently at the end of Age of Ultron will find Banner trapped on a ship headed into deep space and set on a preprogrammed course he can’t alter. Like it or not, he’s along for a ride to…wherever. McWeeny speculates that this is more than just a cliffhanger to close out Phase Two. Instead, it could be the thread that unites all of the Marvel universe we’ve seen so far — which has included places like the Norse realms but which has for the most part been set on Earth — with the larger universe that Guardians of the Galaxy is set to introduce this August.
We already know Guardians is specifically setting up elements and characters that will play a big role in Phase 3, with Thanos likely serving as the Big Bad of Avengers 3. Given that the Guardians both have ties to Thanos — Gamora is his adopted daughter, at least in the comics — and given that their actions in their standalone movie are likely to piss Thanos off, it seems likely that they would somehow figure into Avengers 3 as well, even if only in a minor way.
McWeeny suggests that part of that role will involve bringing Banner/Hulk back home to Earth. Avengers 2 will leave him outward bound into the cosmos, and in Avengers 3 the Guardians would bring him back, possibly even having had adventures with him in another standalone film set between the two. Especially if Guardians is a hit, that would make perfect sense, and would serve as an organic way to introduce the cosmic craziness of the Guardians movie into the mostly Earthbound universe we’ve seen so far.
Of course, there’s also that Kree corpse that helped revive Coulson in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so assuming McWeeny is right — and his theory definitely makes sense — I doubt the Guardians/Hulk angle is the only way the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be expanding beyond Earth’s borders.
Guardians of the Galaxy hits theaters on August 1, and we’ll next see the Avengers in Age of Ultron, set to arrive on May 1, 2015.