The long and patient wait is over! Thor: Ragnarok is finally here. And of course, as a die-hard fan of the Marvel film franchise, I was right there opening night to catch it. I’m pleased to say it lived up to the hype. Well, at least it did for me. But, the promise of the Norse God of Thunder cranking it up to 11 for an all-out brawl for the future of Asgard isn’t the only reason I was so excited. You see, the thing is, while the title may bear the name of Thor, this is actually totally really a movie about everyone’s favorite ball of rage incarnate, the one and only Hulk.
Below is a list of reasons Ragnarok is really all about Bruce Banner’s alter ego. Be warned, there are some loose spoilers contained below. So maybe go see the movie before reading any further if you’re worried about that sort of thing. I did my best to keep ambiguous as to actual plot points or outcomes. But just in case you’re stickler, you’ve been warned.
5. Dog Fights
Probably not everyone reading this is old enough to remember that while Iron Man gets credit for being the first film in Marvel’s Phase 1 it was actually Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) who made the first (semi)canonical film in the Marvel franchise. If you haven’t seen it, let’s just say it wasn’t great…
But one of the most ridiculous and embarrassing moments would have to be the fight Hulk has with a gang of gamma-irradiated doggos. The CGI was so bad, that even though they’d put a ton of work into it, they had to make the scene as dark as they possibly could hide its horrendous-ness. You really couldn’t tell what the hell was actually happening when watching it in the theater. And somewhere in there was a mutant poodle…Don’t even waste your time watching looking it up.
But with Thor: Ragnarok our favorite green tough guy gets a chance to have a real badass, rock and roll throwdown with a giant, undead super wolf. It really brings the cinematic history of Hulk full circle and is a total redemption moment for both him and evil canines everywhere.
4. The Planet Sakaar
While there’s plenty of Thor mythology straight out of a ton of classic and modern storylines, there’s also a lot taken from Greg Pak’s seminal Planet Hulk story arc, including the planet of Sakaar.
While the Sakaar of the comics was ruled over by the malevolent Red King, he’s swapped out for the more blue-tinted Grandmaster (brilliantly portrayed by my beloved Jeff Goldblum) in the films. Which makes sense since this is more about building the cinematic universe than a self-contained story. Still, the outcome is about. The Hulk works his way up through gladiatorial combat, becomes a champion of the people, and leads a revolt.
3. The Warbound
While stone beings known as the Kronon did face Thor in his first comic book appearance (Journey into Mystery #83, 1962) the quite possibly dumb as a rock, but yet undeniably adorable Korg made his first appearance as part of Hulk’s Warbound in the aforementioned Planet Hulk comic series.
And he’s not the only one. While Miek is more cannon fodder for jokes in Ragnarok, as part of the Warbound he helped take back planet Sakaar from the ruling class and even hooks up with one of the parasitic Brood aliens from the X-Men comics. And though Miek was definitely not the toughest bug guy out there, he was definitely not the fragile blob of buggy parts they make him out to be in Ragnarok.
2. The Gladiator Arena
Have I mentioned that Thor: Ragnarok borrows heavily from the Planet Hulk comic? Did I? Oh, well, here’s yet another thing it takes right out of the pages: The Gladiatorial arena! While on the campaign to cinematic release we were treated to all sorts of teaser trailers and shots from the film. But none of them made comic fans say “Oh, shit! Are they doing Planet Hulk in Thor movie?!?!” more than seeing the not-so-jolly green giant decked out like a friggin’ Spartan. While our Asgardian protagonist never made a comic book appearance in the combat arena, this was enough to get Hulk fans pumped for what they were hoping would secretly actually be a Planet Hulk movie.
- It could open the door for a new Hulk
There were many, many things that subtly and not so subtly hinted that we may be coming to the end of the line for both Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo’s runs as two of my favorite founding Avengers. But, that doesn’t mean there won’t be a god of Thunder or a giant ball of green rage in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One way we might get a new Hulk is the same method your mom and dad got you, good old-fashioned procreation!
While there’s no mention of Hulk’s love interest, Caiera in Thor: Ragnarok, that doesn’t mean he’s remained celibate. As mentioned in the film, Banner has spent two years on Sakaar as the most famous badass there is, he probably didn’t have the same emotional qualms with “romantic” relationships that Bruce has. And while the conceiving of Banner babies wouldn’t be quite the tragic tale of star-crossed love it was in graphic novel form, it would be hard to believe that there weren’t any Hulk hook-ups in those two years.
That could mean that while we’re off watching Avengers: Infinity War there’s some poor alien woman out there trying to figure out how to breastfeed Skaar and his twin brother, Hiro-Kala. Although, honestly I do find it a little unlikely that anyone could ever truly replace the one and only Incredible Hulk.