Reviewed by

Andre McGarrity

For those who do not know, Planet Hulk is an adaptation of the popular Planet Hulk story line in the Incredible Hulk comic books. Like all adaptations there are several changes made to the animation that either did not happen in the original story or was slightly altered for whatever reason. Ultimately, some changes worked well and other fell far short.

This incarnation of Planet Hulk is very close to it's inspiration. No longer able to tolerate the Hulk's rampages, a group of superheros (including Iron-Man, Dr. Strange, Reed Richards and Professor X) decide to capture the hulk and rocket him to another planet where there is no intelligent life, plenty of game and all the peace and quite the Hulk has always wished for. Not a bad plan if the Hulk's ship actually made it there – It seems the greatest minds in the Marvel Universe didn't account for the possibly (or should I say inevitability) that the Hulk would break loose inside the ship and send it off course. This change in course sends Marvel's mightiest mortal through a worm whole to the war planet of Sakaar were the Red King ruthlessly uses the populace (and any stray aliens) as fodder for his gladiator-style games. Captured and controlled by a "control disc" implanted in his chest the Hulk is quickly taken to the Maw (the planet's massive gladiator arena) to fight monsters alongside other imprisoned fighters. Eventually, the Hulk decides to join the 'warbond' with his fellow gladiators to overthrow the Red King despite his reluctance to care for people he knows will betray him sooner-or-later, just like his former friends on earth.

This is where the animation starts to veer the farthest from the original. For whatever reasons the creators of this DVD chose to make two major story changes that take away a lot of the emotional power that the comic book storyline had going for it despite the rather clichéd gladiator plot. It will come to little surprise that in the end the Hulk defeats the Red King, Marries the warrior princess and becomes king himself. Pretty standard ending in this genre story, but below is what was left out.

In the original;

1) The Hulk transforms into his alter ego, Bruce Banner, revealing all of himself to his new bride.
This shows how much the Hulk really loved his new bride. Throughout the story the Hulk is distant and emotionless (other than rage), not wanting to ever be vulnerable to betrayal like he felt from Earth's heroes. However, here he strips himself "naked" allowing his soon-to-be bride to see a part of him that he's always hated. This makes him vulnerable to her and to Banner because this action is an admission that Banner really is a part of him. Also, illustrating how strongly he feels for his wife strengthening the emotional punch at the end of the original story.

2) The Hulk's ship explodes devastating the planet and killing his wife (and child).
In the comic and animation after the Red King is killed the Hulk decides to stay on Sakaar were he has a loving wife, a coming child and a planet that loves him. But when his ship seemingly explodes (as designed by Iron Man, and the other heroes) killing his wife and crippling the planet, the Hulk has every reason to return to Earth and seek his righteous revenge. Without this event a) the story is again a basic gladiator story, b) not set up for the next and better story of Word War Hulk and c) and doesn't have the heart wrenching emotional tragic ending that the Hulk's life has always been.

These are two major departures from the comic book, but could be included in the animation with only 10 minutes of footage which could have been added or substituted from a fight scene or one of the Hulk's many brooding moments.

There was one change that had to be made for legal reasons that turned out to be a good substitute. In the comic book the Silver Surfer crashes on Sakaar and is made to fight the Hulk in the Maw, but in the animation they use Beta Ray Bill, an alien who Odin gave Thor-like powers and his own magic hammer. Beta Ray is a cult favorite character to Marvel and Thor fans and one that has never before been animated. This is an example of a rear change that is almost better than the original.

Beta Ray Bill not withstanding, without the two major moments mentioned above Planet Hulk is just an OK film. The animation isn't amazing, but adequate, the fight scenes are violently Hulk worthy, and the story was different from the typical "Hulk Smash" stories we've come to expect from the Hulk. That's more than we got from Hulk (2003) and The Incredible Hulk (2008). We can only hope that perhaps Marvel will make up for this films shortcomings in a World War Hulk animated film.

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