I have always liked the Incredible Hulk. I remember watching both the TV show and the cartoon when I was growing up in the 80’s, and the newer cartoon series in the 90’s. It was one of the Marvel comics that I regularly bought and read when I actively collected comics, and I still read the trades every now and then. In 2006, there was a story line in the Hulk comics that had a profound impact on not just the Hulk, but the rest of the Marvel Universe. So when I heard that they were making an animated film based on that story line, I was eager to watch it. So without further ado, allow me to present today’s movie, Planet Hulk.
The plot: The Hulk wakes up strapped inside a shuttle, a video of Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Dr. Strange, and Black Bolt explaining that, in order to keep the Earth safe from his rage, they are sending him to a planet where there is no intelligent life so that he will be free to live in peace. Angered by this, the Hulk breaks free from his restraints, causing the shuttle to veer off course and crash onto the planet Sakaar. Weakened by the crash, the Hulk is captured and sold as a slave to the Red King and forced to fight as a gladiator in the arena. During the first match, the Hulk refuses to fight and instead, tries to leave the arena, leaving the rest of the gladiators to fight without him. Suffering some casualties, the gladiators manage to survive the first battle but when they are attacked by a large creature in the second round, the Hulk finally helps out and defeats the monster with one blow. When the Hulk tries to attack the Red King, he is stopped by Caiera, the Red King’s Old Strong. The Red King don his power armor and battles the Hulk in the arena, but when the Hulk slashes the Red King across the face, Caiera steps in to battle the Hulk until the Red King manages to knock him out. Fearing the crowd’s displeasure if he kills him, the Red King keeps the Hulk alive, reasoning that the Hulk will die in the games. The next day, the Hulk and the surviving gladiators (Korg – the rock man from Saturn, Hiroim – a shamed member of the shadow priests, Elloe Kaifi – a leading member of the resistance against the Red King, and Miek – an outcast member of the planet’s insect natives) must face off against the Wildebots, fierce robotic marauders, and the Wildebots king, the Eggbreaker. The gladiators defeat the Wildebots, with the Hulk destroying the Eggbreaker from the inside after being swallowed. That night, Caiera talks to the Hulk and offers to let him and the other gladiators escape because she is afraid the Hulk is turning the people against the Red King, but the Hulk refuses. When a group of resistance members arrive to free Elloe, the Hulk warns them that it’s a trap but Elloe refuses to listen and winds up being captured. The next day, Hulk and the others must face Beta Ray Bill, a hero with the powers of Thor who had been captured by the Red King. As the battle progresses, Hulk winds up breaking the control disk on Beta Ray Bill, but Hulk refuses to stop battling until Korg finally convinces him to stop. The Red King congratulates the gladiators on their victory and says he will grant them their freedom if they perform one task, kill the traitor to the king, Elloe. When they refuse, the Red King orders their execution but Beta Ray Bill uses his power to destroy the control disks on Hulk and all of the other prisoners, allowing them to gain their freedom. Elloe tells the gladiators that they must head for a nearby village but the Hulk chooses to go out on his own. When Elloe and the others get to the village, they are offered shelter by the village’s leader, who is a member of the resistance. When Miek discovers that the village’s leader has betrayed them to the Red King, he kills the leader, though losing an arm in the process. Meanwhile, Caiera tracks down the Hulk and begins fighting him but when she notices a rocket heading towards the village and tries to get the Hulk to stop but he is too eager to continue fighting so she leaves him there and heads towards the village. At the village, the rocket crashes and releases parasitic creatures called Spikes into the village. As the Spikes begin infecting the villagers, the gladiators do their best to protect the ones that are not infected. Caiera arrives and manages to rescue a child from the Spikes but when the Red King contacts her, she learns that the Spikes are one of the Red King’s weapons and that he controlled them. The Hulk arrives in the city and manages to save the gladiators and villagers before the Red King drops a lava bomb on the village, incinerating everything alive. The next day, the captured gladiators and the body of the Hulk are brought before the Red King, but the Hulk was playing possum and begins to battle the Red King while the other gladiators and Caiera battle the Red King’s guards. The Hulk defeats the Red King and hands him over to Caiera, who infects the Red King with a Spike, causing the Red King’s robotic Deathhead’s to kill him. With the Red King dead, the people choose the Hulk to be their new king and, along with Caiera and the other gladiators, the Hulk readies himself to face this new challenge.
Not quite perfect but this is still a good movie. The animation in this movie was some of the best that Marvel has managed to do. I think my main problems with the movie were the differences between this and the comic. In the comic, the gladiators fought against the Silver Surfer, not Beta Ray Bill. They also ended the movie when the Hulk became king, giving the movie a pretty happy ending. However, in the comic, after the Hulk becomes the new king, Caiera becomes his queen and is pregnant with their son. But when the shuttle that brought Hulk to Sakaar explodes, it winds up destroying the capital city and killing Caiera. An enraged Hulk, along with the rest of his warbound gladiators, heads back to Earth to get revenge on the ones that sent him to Sakaar. Those two differences aside, this is a fun movie to watch, with plenty of the action you would expect from a movie starring the Incredible Hulk.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5