Taika Waititi’s upcoming Thor: Ragnarok debuts an entirely new version of the Hulk who speaks and interacts with other characters like never before, and it’s awesome. This iteration of Hulk is a game-changer for the MCU, and will have wide-ranging impacts on Phase 4, at least. Here at LRM, we think more Hulk is always better… and it’s time for Marvel to get on-board with this thinking!
Team-ups and crossovers have been a core staple of Marvel comics from the very beginning — it’s actually rare that a Marvel comic contains just a single hero these days (the films and TV series have embraced this premise big-time). However, there are several key Marvel characters who are ubiquitous across the comics, and comfortable appearing everywhere from street-level to cosmic to Astral to Quantum to Hell itself. Spider-Man, The Thing, and The Hulk are Marvel’s true secret weapons; they’re wildcards, they’re unpredictable, and they’re often outrageously funny.
The Thing is obviously off-the-board for legal reasons and Spider-Man is driving his own franchise, which leaves the Hulk as the sole Marvel hero who can (and should) be utilized with much greater frequency; a kind of MCU “glue,” which is needed since Nick Fury has been deposed, to an extent.
We already know that Disney and Universal are unlikely to strike a deal for another stand-alone Hulk film anytime soon… and maybe that’s for the best, as it frees-up the Green Goliath for ensemble, team-up, and cameo appearances across a wide array of MCU films and series. It’s also well-established in the comics that Hulk cannot be killed (there’s a long-running Marvel anthology series called “The End,” which explores this very topic) — this creates narrative problems for Hulk as a lead character, but as a sidekick, adversary, or random element he invites many, many narrative possibilities.
So where else could Hulk appear and how could it make sense in each instance?
THE DEFENDERS SEASON 2
It might seem like heresy to suggest that Hulk could ever partner with Netflix’s team, but it’s not as far-fetched as it might seem. Hulk is a founding member of The Defenders, in the comics, and he’s generally been employed as a wrecking ball (for better or worse). Looking forward to The Defenders Season 2, the stakes and quality of villains must be stepped-up.
The Hand is a devastatingly powerful mystical entity, which implies that cosmic, Astral, Hell and other dimensions are possibly on the table. When you start pitting street-level fighters with demons and aliens it might help to have a Gamma-powered response. It might also be interesting to see the Defenders forced to slow down or stop a rampaging Hulk, as he’s known to do in Harlem and other New York City locales.
SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING SEQUEL
Tony Stark’s appearance in Spider-Man: Homecoming was tremendous fun, and served to teach Peter Parker important lessons about power and responsibility (duh!). Now that Spider-Man has a little more experience under his belt, how about dropping a rage monster into his neighborhood, and tossing in some unexpected, non-Spiderverse foes like The Wrecking Crew — Thor-level villains with working-class roots (look it up).
Spider-Man has always been a quippy character, and now that Hulk’s voice has been unleashed, the possible interactions and dialog between these two could be incredibly funny and entertaining. Could you imagine a scene of the Hulk bounding through Queens with Spider-Man riding on his shoulders? Yes, yes you can!
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3
At the conclusion of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Hulk abandoned Earth and somehow ended-up in a remote corner of the cosmic realm, and eventually he drops into Hel too, in Thor: Ragnarok (we’ll soon find out how and why). We also anticipate Hulk going toe-to-toe with Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, which will finally connect The Guardians of the Galaxy to the rest of the MCU. So, how does Hulk get from Hel to Earth? Maybe he hitches a ride on The Milano… it’s a theory.
Let’s pause for just a moment to imagine a scene between Hulk, Drax, Rocket, and Groot… who cares what they’re talking about, it would be hilarious and epic. We must also consider what level of threat the team might face in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3; how do you follow Ego and Thanos? With something bigger and badder, naturally… and honestly, that’s the perfect scenario for the Hulk to lend a hand and break some stuff, because that’s ultimately what you do in a Guardians film.
DOCTOR STRANGE 2
We’ve come full circle now. Dr. Strange is another founding member of The Defenders and also an Avenger. The contrasts between Strange and Hulk are many: intelligence, patience, discipline, and skillset. If you really want to exploit and amp-up the bizarre nature of the Sorcerer Supreme and weirdness of the Astral plane, bring along the Hulk and see what happens.
We’ve also only begun to tap into the crazy array of villains that Strange has faced over the years: Mephisto, Blackheart, Dogoth, and the Masters of Evil (they’re essentially the anti-Avengers). Strange is primarily a magic-user and a ranged character, so it might be wise to invite along a 15-foot ally who lives and breathes close-quarters combat.
As cool as it is for heroes like Iron Man, Black Widow, and the Falcon to pop-up in multiple MCU films, they’re really more similar than dissimilar to Captain America, Thor, Black Panther. If you really want a protagonist to shine in a film, partnering them with characters that are wildly dissimilar is a tried-and-true narrative tactic — across the MCU, there’s really no one that fits this bill better than the Incredible Hulk! These are just a few of our ideas, and we’d love to hear yours too.
Where else would you like to see the Hulk appear in the MCU? Let us know in the comments down below!