So, the big green guy hasn't had the best career on the big screen has he. The 2003 film was, let's be charitable and say not good, and the MCU reboot of the character has been pretty solid so far, if you ignore the fact that his solo movie had a completely different lead actor to the guy who is playing Hulk now and the film is pretty much forgotten otherwise. However, it is unlikely that there won't be another Hulk film at some point, the character is too popular and everyone is pretty much in agreement that Mark Ruffalo is a perfect fit for Bruce Banner, so how should they do it? Well, here are a few ideas. I'm not going to try to write the whole movie this time, I've just got the outlines of two ways it could go.
1. Who should Hulk smash?
The obvious answer to the question about the lead villain for an Incredible Hulk sequel would be The Leader. Marvel set him up in the second film of the MCU and never went back to him. The Leader is a smart villain (no kidding right?) so it wouldn't be unfeasible for him to just be lying in wait for the perfect opportunity to enact his master plan. But there is another option...
There has been talk of Marvel wanting to bring the Thunderbolts into the MCU at some point. For those of you who don't know, the Thunderbolts started out as a group of villains (The Masters Of Evil) masquerading as superheroes during a point where both the Avengers and the Fantastic Four were missing in action. In the comics the group debuted fighting the Hulk, so why not do that in the films. The motivation would be the same, gain the publics trust by taking down a well known menace, simple.
2. Set up is key.
Now depending on which villain you go with depends on how much set up would need to happen for the film to work. Either way, this film will have to come near the end of phase 4 and The Hulk has to remain on Earth at the end of Infinity War. We also have to see the Avengers fractured by the events of Infinity War, preferably with one of (if not both) Captain America and Iron Man retired or dead. The Leader won't need any immediate set-up other than this, Hulk would be alone and vulnerable (well, as vulnerable as Hulk can be) in this situation. The Thunderbolts need a bit more set up, but that has already started with the fact that Helmut Zemo survived Civil War, so Citizen V is available. Moonstone can be set up in Captain Marvel, Goliath in Ant-Man and Wasp, Fixer or Beetle in Homecoming and Screaming Mimi can be a new character. None of these characters have to be at the forefront of their respective introductory movies either. Depending on how Carol Danvers gets her powers in Captain Marvel, Moonstone shouldn't be too much of a problem, just put her in the same place with access to whatever it is and you're good. Goliath might be worth making a major villain in AM&W unless the plot hinges on the Pym Particles being stolen by someone else, then he could just be a secondary villain. Fixer and Beetle could be clients of The Tinkerer in Homecoming, that's simple enough, they'd just need to cameo by video call or something.
3. Banner Broken
After the events of Infinity War, Bruce Banner must be alone and without any of his former allies. He is haunted by the events of the battle with Thanos and struggle to keep his emotions in check. Every night he has nightmares and this causes him to transform into Hulk as he sleeps and go on a rampage, destroying a small town. After this, he goes on the run, with, of course, General Ross hot on his trail again. This sets up well for the Thunderbolts and that story just writes its self at that point. If going with The Leader as the villain, then he should also be hunting Banner for his own reasons, but obviously through a more cerebral means and using agents, such as Gamma Irradiated dogs (because we might as well lift as liberally from the comics as possible).
4. This character please
You know the main reason why doing another Hulk movie is a good idea? Because it brings Jennifer Walters into the MCU and what the MCU needs is She-Hulk. So, either film we're doing, Bruce must meet his cousin quite early on. He obviously shouldn't go looking for her, he's way to much of a danger to everyone around him, instead she should seek him out to try to help him. Of course, Bruce will rebuff her, but she is persistent. She should also make attempts to keep General Ross away from Bruce.
5. The Leader's Plan
So, The Leader should have spent the last decade (as it will be by the time this movie is released) experimenting with Gamma Radiation. He has been testing on animals, hence the gamma dogs from earlier, and kidnapping humans and experimenting on them as well. His plan is to create an army of unstoppable Hulks to take over the world, which he controls using his mental powers, because why can we not have a hammy all out old school villain. But he needs the Hulk, the original, to complete his experiments and also for some revenge. So he sends his hulks after the original. Cue massive battle that destroys another town or even a city, that the Hulk wins.
6. It's A Trap
Sticking with The Leader storyline; The Leader is watching the battle between his hulks and The Hulk and when he sees it not going too well, he orders one of his hulks to kidnap Jennifer. He uses her as bait to bring Banner to his hide out. Whilst waiting for Bruce to show up the Leader takes a bit of time out to experiment on Jen. So when Bruce shows up, The Leader traps him, taunting him the Jen is such a wonderful experiment. Bruce hulks out, but The Leader sets a mind controlled She-Hulk to subdue him. Meanwhile, outside the army (who followed Bruce) are fighting the Leader's hulks.
7. Justice Like Lightning
If we go with the Thunderbolts story, then these guys should turn up and interrupt Bruce and Jen (preferably in a café in a built up area or something, Jen is trying to prove to Bruce that he isn't a danger to everyone). They try to take him into custody, but Jen is having none of it. Then Goliath gets violent and thing spiral out of control ending up with Hulk fighting the Thunderbolts in the city (set piece of Hulk running up a giant sized Goliath to punch him in the jaw and send him crashing backwards into the side of a skyscraper). The army then get involved, which scares the Thunderbolts away. However, the Hulk is still rampaging. Jen stops Ross from opening fire and tries to calm the Hulk. However, a very nervous solider misreads one of Hulks movements as an attack and fires, but Jen blocks it. Hulk loses it, wipes out the army and jumps away, clutching Jen in his arms.
8. Blood for blood
Then basically She-Hulks comic book origins happen. Hulk transforms back into Bruce upon arriving at a nearby hospital. The Doctors put Jen in intensive care and she gets a blood transfusion from Bruce. Her wounds start healing at an accelerated rate because of the Hulks healing power. Meanwhile the hospital staff see what happened on the TV, realise Bruce is the Hulk and call the army. The Thunderbolts show up before the army do, thanks to listening in on emergency calls. Bruce agrees to come with them in order not to start a fight in the hospital, however, General Ross takes umbrage to these new guys coming in and taking Bruce from him. The two sides argue, with The Thunderbolts wanting to take Bruce to the Raft whilst Ross wants to take him into military custody. This gives Jen enough time to fully heal and wake up (Hulk healing power remember). She fights off the hospital staff and transforms into She-Hulk, going out front and creating a distraction for Bruce to escape.
9. Hulks Smash
Either movie should end on a hulk team up. In the Leader version, Hulk breaks She-Hulk out of the Leader's mind control and they both smash the fake Hulks and finally the Leader himself. In the Thunderbolts version, The Thunderbolts chase down Bruce, causing him to Hulk out in an abandoned mine or some other disused industrial facility. She-Hulk follows them and a fight between the Hulks and the Thunderbolts happens. The Thunderbolts realise they are out matched and flee, leaving the Hulks to deal with the army. Hulk is stopped from attacking the army by She-Hulk, who warns Ross to stop chasing her cousin and Hulk escapes. Either way, She-Hulk must make reference to Hulk being much better at this than "the other guy" referencing the previous MCU Hulk movie.
10. Post Credits
Of course, it wouldn't be a superhero movie without a post credits scene or 3. So, both films will share one post credits scene and have a different second one. The shared one is of Jen looking around a new office. She smiles, says "This will do" and closes the door. Across the window is written "Jennifer Walters- Superhuman Lawyer" or something like that. For the Leader version, the other PCS is General Ross at the sit of the Leaders base, looking around the scientific equipment. He accidentally kicks something as he is walking, he bends down, picks it up and examines it, a small red vial. Thunderbolts version see the team back at their hideout, lamenting the fact their plan didn't work and is the point where we reveal that the Thunderbolts are the bad guys from all those previous films, to set up for a Thunderbolts film.
So, what do you guys think? Anything you would do differently? Which of the two versions do you prefer? Let me know in the comments below.
And with that
Not knowing much about the original comics lines, your plots seem good enough–two things I would definitely want to see:
1. Thanatos probably can’t be killed by the Hulk, but k-o’ed? Right when all hope is lost? Stark fired him as a missile, or something. Then we see the subordinate big bads freak out and run. Loki could even be the anti-hero ensuring it would happen partially so he can stay ‘where he is.’ [spoiler averted]
2. The Leader gets the final leg up and goes to control the Hulk mentally. And the Hulk has that moment where he isn’t going to follow Banner’s conscience . . . and the rage that is the Hulk turns on the Leader, destroys the controls, and slowly, painfully, and gradually batters the Leader’s protective shell into his coffin. Banner wakes up not just feeling guilty, but throwing up at the violence behind the gore despite his jaded medical side.
I am way too far behind in the MCU to formulate any opinion. However, seems to me that Marvel is bound and determined to never have a decent Hulk movie. Just garbage-in, garbage-out for the studio accountants to write off.
That’s why The Hulk worked so well in The Avengers. He was minimal to the actual story. He was raw muscle for the epic fight scenes. However, I think Ruffalo had one of the best lines in the movie.
My pick would be for The Leader. Classic villain who shares a bond with The Hulk. Sprinkle the film with the Thunderbirds in the background such as newsflashes and street talk. If done right, that would pique enough interest for a sequel.
Instead of an abandoned location, The Hulk battles The Leader in a prominent area causing all sorts of destruction. The PCS would be the Thunderbirds stepping before the cameras vowing to put an end to the menace (or menaces should The Leader survive).
Jennifer Walters would be in The Hulk versus The Leader. Yes, The Leader kidnaps and experiments or otherwise poisons her. Or, she is gravely injured during an epic battle. Either way, she slips into a coma.
Now where to place this scene? Should she become She-Hulk early to midway through the movie so she could fight The Leader alongside The Hulk? Or should she come out of the coma in time for the sequel or perhaps her solo debut?
@Herr D- I like that idea for the Leader/ Hulk confrontation, although I wouldn’t go so far as having him spew. Be disgusted at himself maybe, but not being physically sick.
@Atomic Punk- As with Herr D, great suggestions there. I really like the idea of introducing the Thunderbolts in the post-credits scene of the Leader version. I would prefer to bring She-Hulk about in this film, because it settles the audience into the idea. It’s the same tactic Marvel have used to bed Hawkeye, Black Widow, Black Panther and Spider-Man into the MCU and it works. Give the audience a taster of She-Hulk before launching her into her own movie and into a new Avengers team. It also saves time in the solo movie by just letting us get to the balancing act between superhero and real life and Jen becoming comfortable as She-Hulk (maybe after some teething problems). If you include her in the final fight of this film, the audience members that aren’t familiar with the character also get a direct comparison between Hulk and She-Hulk and can figure out (or literally be told) what the differences are between the two and why.
The Leader is a classic Hulk villain, though I’m more familiar with him using Androids, and the like. Gamma Irradiated Puppy Dogs were one of the things that killed the first movie, were they not?
And, if Stark isn’t in the Weapons business anymore, Justin Hammer is in Jail, and AIM hasn’t spun off from HYDRA yet… Wouldn’t there be room in the MCU for a new ‘Leader’ in the Superpowered Weapons business? A reclusive genius with truly brilliant designs, who establishes a nice working relationship with General Ross?
Amped-up Hulkbusters intercept Hulk (who just want to be LEFT ALONE!)just outside a major city, but a few stray shots go flying off into the civilian occupied areas, hitting a certain legal office…
Avengers are (way) out of town, the Thunderbolts (who don’t especially care for the General, anyways) come rushing in, and mayhem ensues…
Hulk and the Thunderbolts make short work of the Hulkbusters, giving Leader Industries a great reason to make a new pitch to General Ross, Citizen Zemo makes Hulk an offer to join the Thunderbolts (knowing he’ll say no, but THINK of the PR!), the US Army gets embarrassed, Ms. Walters needs a quick transfusion, but only one relative with her bloodtype is in the area (and the wound is already gamma irradiated), so ‘puny Banner’ has little choice about creating the Savage (at first) She-Hulk, and the potential plot-hooks trail out a mile long…
That’s what I’d do, at least at first blush…
@JR: I liked how the MCU brought in Hawkeye and Black Widow. Especially what Hawkeye said in The Avengers. How Black Widow saved him. He says nothing beyond that. So there is lots of potential for story.
Both heroes are highly trained humans. She-Hulk’s introduction needs to be “go big or don’t bother.” Unfortunately, the most recent Hulk movies did go big but they shouldn’t have bothered.
And… Thunderbolts… mea culpa… I need to stop trying to post from work. Too many distractions.
@William Peterson- Technically the Gamma Dogs were taken from a 2001/2002 (can’t remember which year of the top of my head) Hulk storyline that had Bruce Banner on the run after transforming into Hulk in his sleep and destroying a town. The Leader is the main villain in that storyline and it’s what I based the Leader version on. And I thought the thing that killed the first movie was it’s awful plot and the fact that it’s very, very boring. The Leader working with General Ross and creating new Hulkbusters as a way to further his means could work, so long as they never meet face to face, because Ross isn’t just after Banner, he’s after a gamma irradiated individual, which the Leader is. Also, I would keep the Thunderbolts out of the movie if the Leader is the main bad guy, because that might be too much to cram into one film, but that depends on how it is done.
My only problem with your idea on the whole is how convenient it would be to have the fight be close enough to Jennifer Walters office. Surely Bruce would be avoiding going anywhere near anyone who could identify him, so Jen would be a no-go, unless you literally want to set it up as a coincidental meeting where Bruce didn’t know Jen had set up shop in that particular town, in which case… it’s contrived but it works.
@Atomic Punk- Yeah, I agree. Introducing She-Hulk you should go big. Hopefully, looking at the MCU as it is now, compared to what it was when the last Hulk film came out, Marvel should be able to pull it off. They’ve got an actor who is a better fit for the human side of the monster, they have a much more defined and cohesive world, they have a defined singular goal and they’ve made really left-field stuff like Guardians Of The Galaxy and Ant-Man work, so I have faith that they can make a Hulk film that is good enough to have the explosive introduction She-Hulk needs. Also, I didn’t even notice you’d put Thunderbirds instead of Thunderbolts, but now you’ve said that, I want to see it. Cross-over of the century; The Incredible Hulk versus 60’s puppet International Rescue. Just imagine, the not-so-jolly Green Giant smashing up Thunderbird 2, ridding Thunderbird 3 into space or diving into the ocean to chase Thunderbird 4. It needs to happen.
The Thunderbirds trying to take down The Hulk. That would be so worth it if they did all puppet style.
@WP: The Gamma Hounds just did not work at all. I went from “WTH” to “WTF” to “I’m outta here.” Almost as if Ang Lee knew the audience had quit paying attention and said, “Ok, let’s really bomb this turkey.”