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Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok is not a direct adaptation of the comic storyline Planet Hulk, but it definitely borrows a number of elements. The planet Sakaar -- the setting of the bulk of the movie -- is taken straight from the arc, as is the idea of Hulk as a gladiator, and characters like Korg and Miek. Clearly it was a key source of inspiration for the filmmakers behind the blockbuster -- but screenwriter Eric Pearson recently told me that it was really the green monster's comfort level in Planet Hulk that was the most important adapted element. Said Pearson,
I think what we took from it is, or at least what I took from it, was the idea that Hulk has found a place that he thinks could make him happy. It was very important for me to have a moment where you saw, and I won't say what it is in the movie, but where you see Hulk relaxed but not turning back into Banner - to emphasize that he's in more control here right now, and he's happy. Hulk finds that in Planet Hulk as well when he kind of takes over, and thinks he's got a life there. So, that was a big part of it.
Similar to how Thor: Ragnarok showcases a different side of the titular God of Thunder, Hulk takes on a very different personality in the new blockbuster, and certainly a lot of that has to do with the alien environment in which he has been living for years. Last week, I had the opportunity to talk with Eric Pearson over the phone about his work on the film's script, and his response came after I asked him about the influence of Planet Hulk on his work.
Comfort for the Hulk is definitely a big thing in Thor: Ragnarok -- and part of that comes from the fact that he has a very different role in the movie than what we're used to seeing from him. Every previous time we've seen the character on the big screen the focus has always been on Bruce Banner and his struggle to keep the monster inside him contained. That isn't the case here, however. Instead, when we catch up with Hulk he has been out of his cage since the last act of Avengers: Age of Ultron, so he's had time to actually exist and develop a separate personality from his scientist alter ego. As far as the ratio of human and beast goes, his leads the latter to have a much larger role than any other previous feature.
Eric Pearson clearly had a lot of fun playing with Hulk in the Thor: Ragnarok screenplay, but he did drive home another point about the character's role in the movie during our Planet Hulk discussion. As great as it was to be able to utilize Marvel's angry green giant, he also had to always make sure that he didn't steal too much focus from the eponymous Asgardian. Pearson explained,
One of Taika's first sayings is that it's a Thor movie -- he always has to be the coolest guy. We got Hulk in it, and Hulk draws eyes, and is so interesting and fun to watch, but we didn't want it to just become Hulk 1.5 or whatever. I don't know what number it would be, but we really wanted to put all of that through Thor's perspective, and also make Hulk's existence there not only a relationship for our protagonist, but also an obstacle for our protagonist.