Planet Hulk adapts the popular Marvel Comics story arc that ran in 2006- 2007. The film basically picks up where Hulk #92 started as the Hulk is trapped aboard a shuttle listening to a recording of Iron Man apologize for sending the Hulk into exile but explaining that it was done for the safety of the world. Behind him you can see the other members of the Illuminati Reed Richards, Doctor Strange, and an indistinct figure we assume is the fourth member, Black Bolt. As the Hulk fights to free himself from his bonds, he knocks the ship off its intended course and through a wormhole, causing it to crash land on the feudal planet of Sakaar.
The effects of the wormhole reduce the Hulk’s strength and invulnerability and he’s captured by the Sakaarians and affixed with an obedience disc like the rest of the slaves. He’s to become a gladiator in the Red King’s arena to fight with a mixed bag of other aliens including Miek, an insectoid alien; Hiroim, a former priest; Elloe Kaifi a resistance fighter; and the rock alien Korg, a Kronan, originally seen in Journey into Mystery #83, the first appearance of Thor. Korg in fact relates that tale as he and his fellow Kronans were defeated by Thor and Beta Ray Bill in a tale greatly change from the original comic.
While The Hulk is viewed by the others as their prophesized savior against the Red King, he merely wants to be free of this world and back home. Forced to fight against a series of terrible creatures and robots, the Hulk soon becomes a threat to the Red King and the ruler decides that the Hulk must die before he can threaten his rule.
Planet Hulk was a fairly true adaptation of the comic book story. Obviously there was some condensing of plot elements such as the prelude that led up to Hulk’s exile by the Illuminati, but all in all, the film stays remarkably true to the source material both in story and tone. The Hulk here isn’t the purely “Hulk Smash!” variety but able to think and converse and generally be pretty unpleasant but also display a true hero’s calling as he saves his fellow gladiators numerous times and eventually turns the tide against the Red King.
The one major change to the story is the substitution of Beta Ray Bill for the Silver Surfer due to some legal issues reportedly…I mean I don’t know how Marvel can’t use its own characters unless the Silver Surfer was constrained due to possible film productions.
The biggest difference between Marvel’s animated features and those of DC is in the voice acting. DC has spared no expense in bringing in well-known Hollywood talent to voice the characters in their films while Marvel seems to be going on the cheap with no-name, although experienced voice actors. Still a voice you know and recognize gives animated films that little something extra. Oh and keep your eyes focused on the crowd scenes during the arena fights and you’ll see some “guest spectators” in attendance.
The adaptation of “Planet Hulk” should be a sign of things to come. Marvel has many great story arcs out there from their nearly fifty year history and it would be great to see more of these adapted. “World War Hulk” anyone?
The Two-Disc special Edition comes with a host of strong features: