Full disclosure: I am a huge fan of the Hulk. The giant green rage monster has always been among my favourite comic book characters, so any time he gets to show up in a movie, I am fully on board. Put him in Thor: Ragnarok, directed by Taika Waititi, with a script written by a woman (Stephany Folsom), and the sequel becomes the film I am most looking forward to in the ongoing Marvel Cinematic Universe – closely followed by Black Panther.
Hulk is a character with an incredibly rich source material to draw upon – one that encompasses Earth, romance, family, science, space travel and alternate dimensions. The scope of this icon’s tale is vast, but historically, only the tiniest fraction of it has been explored onscreen. In film, we have had two standalone adaptations in the past 15 years and, while they were very different in tone and intention, they both essentially covered the same ground – Bruce Banner being hunted by his girlfriend’s military-grade Dad. No filmmaker has tackled anything else in Hulk’s history in live-action cinema.
So, the inclusion of Hulk in a Thor film is cause for excitement. The two characters have a lot of crossover in the comic book source material, and the pairing of Hulk and Thor opens up story-telling possibilities far beyond the realms of Earth – which is as it should be for Bruce Banner and his anger management problem. The current holder of the Hulk title – Academy Award nominee Mark Ruffalo – recently teased the role of the character in Thor: Ragnarok in an interview with E! Online, while promoting his latest film, Now You See Me 2.
“It’s an intergalactic buddy road movie with Banner and Thor. I think it will be smashing. You’ll see a lot more Hulk. The Hulk gets Hulk-ier. The Hulk Hulks out. Hulk-ier and bigger.”
Now, given that this was stated in an interview during which Ruffalo was cracking wise with Woody Harrelson, I’m not about to take the ‘intergalactic buddy road movie’ characterization as cold, hard truth – purely because, when it was first announced that Hulk would appear in Thor: Ragnarok, a Thor-Hulk buddy road movie was first on the wishlist of vocal fans. There’s a reason for that wish, though, and that reason is that it would be brilliant.
With Taika Waititi at the helm, we can certainly expect a significant element of humour. The director previously delivered the hilarious What We Do In The Shadows, and the character of Thor has always provided a great deal of levity to the MCU. But, as is often the case with Marvel movies these days, Thor: Ragnarok will not be all about Thor. Apart from the fabulous Hulk, we will see the return of Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Heimdall (Idris Elba), as well as the mighty Odin (Anthony Hopkins). New faces joining the venture will be Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Skurge (Karl Urban), Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), and – most excitingly – Hela (Cate Blanchett) as the villain of the piece.
The move to introduce Hela – the Goddess of Death, and frequent opponent of Thor in the comic books – is a notable one for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As a franchise, it has historically marginalized all of its female characters – including Black Widow – and has certainly never featured a woman as a main villain. Thor: Ragnarok will go some way to correcting both of those missteps, and Mark Ruffalo is also excited to see what Blanchett will be bringing to the table.
“She plays the worst of the worst. So evil. She is going to kill us. It’s such a great part she gets to play.”
A cinematic pairing of Thor and Hulk with comedic elements, a script written by a woman, the introduction of Valkyrie, and an epic female villain – now that this is how Thor: Ragnarok is shaping up, its release date of July 28th, 2017 simply cannot come fast enough.