As is so often the case, the biggest reveals from the year’s biggest movies come Toy marketing. Avengers: Endgame is no differentWeirdly this photo is from Orville Redenbacher. This is the best and clearest picture yet we’ve seen of (some) of the team post “The Snappening” or as it’s officially referred to at Marvel, The Decimation (which is grammatically incorrect, but sounds way cooler).
Note that only the six original Avengers are shown here. The original team from the first film. We know that Captain Marvel, Rocket, War Machine, Nebula, and Ant-man are all on the team in Avengers: Endgame. But it’s just one piece of promo art, so let’s not lose our goddamn minds. Gamespot.com had this official sysnopsis:
The Avengers will attemp to “undo Thanos’ actions and restore order to the universe once and for all, no matter what consequences may be in store.”
Oh, really? Thanks for the sysnopsis Marvel! Because I thought The Avengers were going to sit this one out!
With the sad passing of Stan Lee earlier this week, I wanted to offer personal reflection on this incredible storyteller and the impact he’s had on the lives of so many people. I felt the loss of Stan Lee like a kick in the gut. The characters he’s created have helped me through some of the hardest times in my life and inspired me to be a better man. Thank you for listening to my brief tribute to a creator that meant a great deal to me. My hope is that you’ll hear something that will resonate with you in some small way. Thanks again. Listen here or subscribe on Stitcher and iTunes:
Like destiny and Thanos, it’s finally here… Avengers: Infinity War! So on this episode of “The World’s Best Podcast”, Paul Sr. and I have a FULL SPOILER discussion/Review of Marvel’s ultimate crossover event. This movie is fucking EPIC! This movie is a gift to all the Marvel fans who stayed with this franchise since Samuel L. Jackson told Tony Stark about The Avengers Inititive in the first Iron Man film . We discuss ALL the juicy details so make sure you check out the movie before listening to the podcast. Because this film fucking delivers big time! I hope you enjoy this episode, listen here or subscribe on iTunes:
You can buy the “Infinity Gauntlet” graphic novel here at our Amazon Affiliate link, which helps support the site, here:
Hopefully, I don’t need to catch you up on the history of the MCU, and I can just dive into what I want to see from Infinity War. This might be a pretty controversial take on it, and as always I’m very open to whatever they’re actually going to do, but this is what I would do if I were in charge.
I want to see Thanos, and his team lay waste to much of the MCU heroes. I don’t need to see him murder a bunch of them, (although I think we can agree there will likely be some major losses) but I want it to be a one-sided slaughter, I want the end of the second act to appear hopeless, like Han in carbonite, Luke handless level of hopeless. I want the audience to honestly be borderline upset at how poorly our heroes are doing.
Then as the third act begins, we see something falling towards the Earth, and it’s coming in too quick, and we see the heat trail as it burns through the atmosphere towards the ground, and it’s the Hulk who has been hurtling through space since whatever happens to the ship Thor and the Asgardians were on at the end of Ragnarok, and he slams into the ground, and is so pissed off from that ordeal, that he begins to pummel through each and every one of Thanos’ lackies and maybe they don’t win the fight (it seems as if this will not be the end since Avenger’s 4 comes out a year from now and originally was going to be Infinity War Part 2,) but he helps the team to at least hold off Thanos.
I’ve got to admit, with a 2 year-old who’s favorite phrase has been “Hulk Smash” ever since he saw Ragnarok, I want Hulk to not be in the film for long, but then come in and fuck shit up. I want to see Thanos over confident in his ability, and in his progress in destroying the Avengers and other assorted MCU heroes, and I want to have that moment everyone seems to have in the MCU where they think they know what’s going to happen, and then immediately realize they don’t have a clue. Hulk is amazing at delivering that moment, and I want him to give that to Thanos.
A big piece of speculation about the film has been that Thanos will not have all of the Infinity stones in this film, or at least not until the end of the film. I’m not sure how they cover him succeeding in getting the stones, and still have any kind of victory for the Avengers. It’s a plot point that seems—from a writing standpoint—to be insurmountable, but one that many seem to think is coming. If it’s coming, I hope it’s the very last moment, and I would enjoy seeing the Hulk have that same “oh shit” moment of realization that I want for Thanos. Then despite that, we see Hulk rampage forward, swing for a hit, and before it connects cut to black.
I want to see the Hulk smash, like he’s never smashed before…
Marvel dropped the new and final Avengers: Infinity War trailer on us before we all have our minds blown when the movie comes out on April 27! So, I decided to do a trailer commentary! Pointing out interesting things from the comics, making predictions, and just giving my thoughts on the awesomeness that is this trailer. I pause a few times throughout the trailer to explain some more in depth concepts. You can just listen to my commentary on it’s own, but I highly recommend pulling up the trailer and following along with me as I go through the trailer. Man, April 27 can’t get here soon enough! I know there’s a lot of hype and a lot og high expectations, but I’m going to play the optimist and say this one is gonna live up to the hype. I have the trailer posted below ans my commentary posted after that. I’d love some feedback, so feel free to comment.
It first started around The Avengers. We had Loki light up the screen as one of cinema’s great big bads. Then Iron Man 3 came along with Aldrich Killian and “The Mandarin” (Which I actually thought was a smart way to deal with a potentially problematic villain). Maleketh in Thor: The Dark World was the nail in the coffin. The internet declared: “MARVEL HAS BAD VILLAINS!” Villains like Ronan The Accuser from Guardians of The Galaxy sealed the deal: Marvel has one dimensional, forgettable villains.
After seeing Marvel’s excellent new film, Black Panther, with two very different, but fantastic in different ways. I got to thinking about the villains in PHASE 3 and not only doe each film in Phase 3 has at least 1 great villain, but I’d like to argue that the entire premise that Marvel has weak villains is BULLSHIT!
But I’ll get back to that… First of BIG SPOILERS FOR ALL MCU FILMS SO FAR INCLUDING BLACK PANTHER! Like I said, Black Panther has two great villains. First, there’s Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaw who we first saw in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Klaw is the “fun” villain. He’s got his awesome laser canon arm, blowing shit up. He’s laughing, having a good time. This is a guy who knows how to enjoy being an arms dealer in a world of aliens, gods, and superheroes. I often hate when villains “chew the scenery”, but when it’s done well like Serkis does here, it’s a blast to watch.
Then we have Michael B. Jordan as Eric Killmonger. I love Michael B. Jordan, so I was psyched when he was cast in Black Panther, but he’s so likable I just didn’t see him as a villain. He’s the type of guy I saw more as a hero than a villain. Man, was I wrong. Killmonger in this movie is NOT. FUCKING. AROUND. He’s a vicious, focused, terrifying motherfuker.
The scene when he faces T’Challa in The Falls for The Throne, you get the sense that T’Challa doesn’t really know what he’s dealing with. This is a man on a fucking mission. It was here where Killmonger reminded me of another great Phase 3 Marvel villain: Zemo. Zemo is the villain in Captain America: Civil War. He’s easy to forget because there’s so much dramatic eye catching stuff in that film. Zemo, like Killmonger when he faces T’Challa is just a man, not a god. But in Civil War, Zemo wins. He breaks The Avengers. The beauty of it, is what breaks The Avengers apart is the truth that Zemo exposes, their own lies and their own actions. Daniel Bruhl plays it perfectly. A grim man, on a grim mission.
On the Cosmic side of things we have the excellent Cate Blanchett as the best Thor villain, Hela (because at this point is Loki even really a villain?). She was charismatic, funny at times and she made you see a much darker side of Odin. I also think she could be the most powerful Marvel villain we’ve seen so far. I do not think we’ve seen the last of her, either. We don’t really see her die and in the comics one of the reasons Thanos is trying to assemble the Infinity Gauntlet is to impress the “thing” he loves, Death. In the comics, there’s an actual female personification of Death that Thanos is madly in love with. I think instead of trying to introduce a new character into an already massive cast, they’ll make Hela the object of Thanos’ affection. She kinda, sorta, basically is Death anyway. So that’s my theory.
Staying on the Cosmic side of the MCU, there’s Peter Quill’s extremely shitty father, Ego The Living Planet. Played perfectly by Kurt Russell, he never actually lies to Peter. He definitely omits very important facts, but he never outright lies. He’s the perfect space Dad! Except for the fact that he gave Peter’s mom a brain tumor. That’s a deal breaker. Before this big reveal, there are several smaller bad guys in the movie, but Kurt Russell is so disarming I found myself wondering who the hell the main villain for the movie was. So it’s real sucker punch when he reveals he planted the tumor that killed Peter’s mom. Tim Cuff, one of the site contributors thought Ego was his favorite MCU Villain. And what comic book fan didn’t love seeing the big face on The Planet when Rocket and Yondu are in orbit. Speaking of Yondu… FUCK! That’s the most heart breaking death we’ve seen in the MCU so far. “He may have been your father, boy. But I was your Daddy.” Goddammit it gets me every time!
Then we have my personal favorite from Phase 3 and maybe the whole MCU, Adrian Toomes (they never actually called him The Vuture in the movie) played by the absolutely fucking legendary Michael Keaton. The film opens days after the Chitauri Invasion, Toomes is a blue collar contractor and he and his crew are contracted by the city to help clean up the Chitauri tech left over from the invasion of New York, but are fucked over by the government and Stark Industries when they create a government division to handle these things called “Damage Control”. Keaton almost steals the whole movie. He’s super menacing, but clearing he’s a normal, loving, husband and father. He’s kind of the anti-Tony Stark, he has the high tech Vulture suits he uses for heists, he’s blue collar, Tony’s silver spoon.
Man, the scene Peter shows up at Liz’s to pick he up for the dance and Toomes, who we now realize is Liz’s dad, is my favorite sequence in the movie. In the car on the way to the dance, the way Keaton plays Toomes slowly realizing this kid is Spider-Man is phenomenal. Keaton is so fucking good in this role, I hope he pops up in future movies.
What makes a fantastic villain is that they think they’re the hero of the own story. That seems to be a common trend here with the Phase 3 villains. Several of the villains I’ve listed are ones that we easily sympathize with. Or maybe even think are right? When you find yourself siding with a villain more than the hero, an interesting story is being told. Killmonger, Zemo, Toomes, and even Hela to an extent all have very legitimate reasons for their actions.
Now the only outlier in Phase 3 is Doctor Strange. A very good movie, a solid origin flick, but the villain, Kaicillius, is pretty bland. It’s its cool seeing Strange facing down Dormammu in the final act, he’s more of a force of nature than a villain.
So, with the exception of Doctor Strange, it think I’ve made a pretty solid argument that the Marvel Phases 3 villains are pretty great. But I also said that I didn’t think Marvel even had a villain problem in the first place. So let’s quickly go through Phase 1 & 2 and it’s villains. I’m going to rate the quality of the villains themselves, NOT the movies:
The one that started it all. In more ways than one. It started the unfortunate “villain just being an evil version of the hero” trend. But it’s not a total loss, Jeff Bridges is fun in the role. The irony is that he’s more menacing as Obadiah Stane than he is when he’s in the Iron Monger suit. Also, what the fuck is his endgame once he gets the suit on? I also give them a bit more credit with this being their first film and they’re still finding their footing.
Villain: Obadiah Stane/Iron Monger
The Incredible Hulk
The lost, red headed step child of the MCU. Here we have The Abomination and General Ross. When it come to Ross, his reasoning for hating the Hulk/Banner so much is, here’s a badass military man who’s always in control and has never been afraid of a damn thing in his life. Then he’s there for the birth of The Hulk, an unstoppable monster that makes him completely helpless. For the first time in his life, he felt fear and The Hulk put it there. He want’s to kill the thing that put fear into him. He’s terrified of The Hulk and that’s why he hunts him with such vigor. He’s like Ahab, kind of. Ross of course pops up like a shit that just wont flush in Civil War.
Then there’s Tim Roth’s Abomination. There’s something to be said for seeing The Hulk just tear it the fuck up against his most monstrous and physically powerful adversary. Their fight through Harlem is fun, CGI madness. Like Ross, Emil Blonsky has the unique motivation of a military man. A man past his physical prime, who knows if he had the physical ability he had 20 years ago with the skills and tactical knowledge he’s learned since, he’d be a force to be reckoned with. Which leads to the series of events that turn him into The Abomination. He tries to become something like Captain America, but he turns himself into a monster instead. It’s important to remember that in the MCU the secret to creating super soldiers like Captain America died with the scientist who invented the procedure. People have been trying to perfect it for decades but . Captain America was the only real success, usually People end up with something more like the abomination. I actually think these are 2 pretty underrated and interesting villains .
Once Hulk beats The Abomination into submission, alive and unconscious, he just takes off! What the fuck were they gonna do if he woke up? It’s not like they have a prison cell designed to hold something like The Abomination just on hand, because I think they have a half hour TOPS before this fucking thing wakes up! They don’t make it clear here, but in the comic, unlike The Hulk, he doesn’t change back to a man. He’s a giant fucking death monster permanently (something tells me he’ll be cool with it). Then again maybe Ross does have something ready to go because he had JUST captured The Hulk. This is a dangerous fucking situation is all I’m saying!
There are actually several other interesting loose ends in this movie. Like how the post credit scene with Ross and Stark in the bar at the end of the film doesn’t make sense, because in the larger context of the MCU because they were still trying to figure out what the MCU would be. But they retconned it in the Marvel One-Shot “The Consultant”.
Then there’s Tim Blake Nelson as Dr. Samuel Sterns who was helping Bruce to find a cure. He helps Blonsky make the final transformation into The Abomination. During the procedure he get a cut on the head and the Hulk’s blood drips into the wound. From there his head begins to bubble and grow.
Clearly this was meant to set up Hulk villain, The Leader. In the comics, Sterns’ transformation makes him super intelligent and he ends up looking something like this:
We never see hide nor hair from this guy again anywhere in the MCU so presumably he’s out there up to no good. Or he got hit by a bus…
Villain: General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross
Villain: Emil Blonsky/ The Abomination
Iron Man 2
Everybody shits on this movie, but I like it a lot. I agree Mickey Rourke is another shitty “evil version of the hero” villain. He’s actually the least interesting villain in that category. But Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer FUCKING. RULES. He is so fucking fun to watch in this movie. Here’s a guy who desperately wants to be Tony Stark, but just can’t quite pull it off. When it comes to villains, he saves this flick.
Villain: Ivan Vanko/Whiplash
Villain: Justin Hammer
Captain America: The First Avenger
When people first started talking about the “MCU Villain Problem”, I was like do you have fucking amnesia?! What about The Red Skull? They absolutely nail him. THIS is The Red Skull of the comics. Plus, Hugo Weaving playing Werner Herzog playing The Red Skull? Fucking genius ( This is true by the way, Weaving largely based The Red Skull on Herzog). The make-up effects are fantastic. This is a great Marvel villain, people. Also, to this day I’m certain he didn’t actually die at the and of the movie. He’s holding the Tesseract, The Space Stone, I just think he was transported across the galaxy and I’ve been waiting to see him return since. I’ve heard the Hugo Weaving isn’t too keen on reprising the role, but he’s already covered in The Red Skull make up, I’m sure there are plenty of great actors to fill his shoes. I could see them maybe bringing him back in Avengers: Infinity War, so we shall see
Villain: The Red Skull
Thor/ The Avengers
I’m going to skip right over Thor and Avengers because we all know Loki is the man.
Iron Man 3
Here’s Marvel’s first big standalone after The Avenger and they were scared people wouldn’t want to see the heroes apart now that we’d see the best of the best. They were wrong to be worried. This was a huge hit for Marvel. Unlike many people, I don’t hate “The Mandarin Twist”. Which was, as I said before a clever solution to a potentially problematic villain. The Mandarin was nothing but a pathetic rip off of the much better DC villain Ras Al Ghul. It’s hard to argue that Ben Kingsley is a great in the role. He sells the idea of The Mandarin as a terrorist and then is really fun to watch when we realize he’s just a drug addled British actor. For The Mandarin purists out there the last Marvel One-Shot “All Hail The King” should help to alleviate the pain.
Villain: The Mandarin
Grade: Guy Pierce – C-/ Ben Kingsley – B-
Thor: The Dark World
Malekith is the real lowest of the low. The blandest, most uninteresting Marvel villain in the MCU’s weakest film. It’ a shame because Christopher Eccelston played one of the most terrifying villains of all time as Raymond Calitri in Gone in Sixty Seconds (That’s kind of an inside joke, which I shouldn’t do). Fortunately there’s nowhere to go but up for both the MCU and the Thor movies. This is BY FAR the worst Marvel villain from any of the films.
Villain: Malekith The Accursed
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
I’m reluctant consider The Winter Soldier a villain in this film because he’s kind of more of a victim than anything else. Yes, he does some terrible things, but when I think of this film I don’t think of him as a villain. He’s Bucky, a hero in his own right and Cap’s friend turned brainwashed assassin. Ultimately he’s a very scary and effective human weapon for HYDRA. The fact that there are this many layers to the “villain” of the film speaks to how good both the movie and the character are.
Then we have the great Robert Redford who’s excellent as Alexander Pierce, one of the heads of HYDRA. Having one of the great American actors play a HYDRA agent who has infiltrated the highest levels of SHIELD is so fucking cool. This a role he could have easily phoned in, but he puts in a fantastic performance. Like all great villains, at certain points he kind of has you seeing where he’s coming from. I think this film is the moment when the geeks truly inherited the earth, when with his dying breath Robert Redford whispers “Hall Hydra“.
We also have Rumlow AKA CROSSBONES as a solid piece of shit, soldier villain. Who we get to see again as Crossbones in Civil War. I think he’s the perfect muscle in this film to the brain that is Alexander Pierce.
Villain: The Winter Soldier
Villain: Alexander Pierce
Villain: Brock Rumlow AKA Crossbones
Guardians of the Galaxy
Here we have another pretty generic space villain. Very one dimensional. He wants to kill everyone on the planet Xandar because the Kree…something… ancient blood feud… something, something. Don’t get me wrong, Ronan is NOT a very good villain, but I kind of like him. He’s got a cool look. He’s light years better than Malekith, the last generics space villain we got. And call me out for drinking the Marvel Koolaid, but I love when he has to go get chewed out by Thanos. The whole thing had a very Darth Vader and The Emperor feel. Always a plus
Villain: Ronan The Accuser
Grade: C+ (That’s probably too high a score, but I like this guy for some reason)
Ant-Man continues the classic Marvel problem of the villain being an evil version of the hero. We also have the reverse Iron Man with the young buck trying to take the company away from old Michael Douglass’s Hank Pym. In Iron Man it was the older guy trying to steal the company. A lot of been there, done that here. Sure, the Yellowjacket suit is cool and Ant-Man has one of the best third acts of any Marvel film, but this just ain’t gonna cut it villain-wise.
Villain: Darren Cross AKA Yellowjacket
Avengers: Age of Ultron
I wanted to save this for last, even though technically Ant-Man came out after this film. I think Ultron is by far the most underrated villain in the MCU. James Spader plays him perfectly as this twisted reflection of Tony Stark. His “birth” scene, when he reveals himself to The Avengers in that Frankenstein’s Monster version of Stark’s drones, is creepy and memorable in the best ways. He’s a legitimate threat to the Avengers, which can be difficult. To be fair he should have been more of a “HOLY FUCK, HOW ARE WE GOING TO BEAT THIS UNSTOPPABLE BADASS WHO’S 10 STEPS AHEAD OF US?!!” Villain. But I think what we got really worked. Ultron isn’t Skynet. He’s not a cold, unfeeling machine. He wants to be human, but his emotions are all fucked up. He doesn’t understand why people can’t see what he’s trying to do for them.
To Ultron, Earth NEEDS an extinction level event so the surviving humans will become stronger. As Ulron says to the twins “As soon as the Earth settles, God throws a stone and believe me he’s winding up.” I think he’s talking about Thanos here. I don’t think he knew specifically what it was, but he new something big and bad was heading our way and we weren’t ready (I just wanna say other sites have been talking about similar ideas, but I’ve had this theory for awhile now). I also think it’s fascinating that he’s always talking about God, Faith, and Religion. I find it so fascinating and would love to know why Wheadon chose to have theology on the mind of a powerful A.I. so much. Besides the Red Skull and The Vulture, this is the villain I would most like to see return in a Marvel film. In addition to being one of my favorite scenes in the MCU, when Vision and the very last Ultron drone have that great conversation about humanity at the end of Age of Ultron. Ultron comes at Vision and Vision destroys him in blinding light using the Mind Stone in his head. OR DID HE?! Check out the scene here:
Earlier in the film, Vision does say earlier “I don’t want to kill Ultron. He’s unique.” Maybe Vision has some of Ultron’s code tucked away somewhere for safe keeping. As we all, know from the comics, Ultron always comes back…
So out of the 16 villains from PHASES 1 & 2 analyzed and graded here, 10 were at least a B- or higher. Of course, that’s just my personal analysis. I didn’t even get into the villains from the Netflix shows. You throw in villains like Kingpin, Killgrave, and Cottonmouth and the debate is OVER. BOOM.
I’d also like to point out that I’ve always said Marvel has the best heroes (with the exception of Batman) and DC has the best villains. Up until recently, Ive been a big DCEU defender in fact. But so far, Warner Bros., in one way or another (directly or indirectly) have managed to royally fuck up their 3 best villains: Lex Luthor, The Joker, and Darkseid. So, who really has the villain problem, hmm?
So there we have it, I’ve made my case. I hope I changed some hearts and minds. But you guys are the Judge in the end. Let me know what you think. I am right? Dead wrong? A complete idiot?.. well, we all know that last one’s true anyway. Let me know in the comments below or on our Facebook page World’s Best Media.
So much to love here… Just, as fans that fact that we’re getting this movie is mind blowing. I think Iron Man’s new armor looks very cool. EW is actually a great magazine for this kind of stuff. Very geek friendly. I get a lot of stuff from them. I know they have a whole exclusive article on the movie to go along with these covers, so it’s probably worth checking out. You can’t EW on iTunes through the App Store or anywhere magazines are sold.
By now a lot of you have probably seen Thor: Ragnarok. I saw it and thought it was a blast, if you’ve haven’t had the chance yet, check out our podcast, “The World’s Best Podcast with Paul & Tim”, where we discuss and review (with spoilers) Thor: Ragnarok. It’s one of our best Episodes and we had a lot of fun making it.
I’m always looking for an opportunity to talk about comics. This seemed like a great opportunity to recommend some Comic Books/Graphic Novels to read AFTER you’ve seen Thor: Ragnarok. This film was filled with references and Easter Eggs to some classic Marvel stories. Much of the plot and story elements of Thor: Ragnarok are heavily influenced by 2 or 3 Marvel Graphic Novels, which I’ll list below. I’m also including a few books that are great places to start if you’re looking to read some great Thor or Hulk stories, but aren’t sure where to start.
I’m a big advocate for the medium. Anytime I write an article about great graphic novels, I usually include an Amazon link for the comic book I’m recommending so our readers can easily find the book if they decide they want to check it out. This wasn’t part of any promotion we’d arranged with Amazon, I just wanted to point people in the right direction. But World’s Best Media has grown way beyond the blog I started. We want to continue to give you all of our great podcasts, articles, reviews, videos and more of the best content possible. So, now if you decide you want to purchase one of the graphic novels, movies, or any other stuff we recommend, by going through the Amazon links we provide (like the ones below), a small percentage of the money goes back to us at World’s Best Media to help keep us up and running. So if any of you want buy any of the things we recommend, going through our Amazon Affiliate link would be a huge help and massively appreciated. We don’t ask that you go out of your way, but if you’re going to buy something on Amazon anyway, It’d be great if you went through our links. Thank you so much for all of your support.
Now, here are the best Comic Book/Graphich Novels to read after you’ve seen Thor: Ragnarok…
Planet HulkWritten by Greg Pak/Art by Carlo Pagulayan & Aaron Lopresti
Planet Hulk is sensually Gladiator in space starring The Hulk instead of Russell Crowe. That’s one hell of a hook. In the Marvel comics there’s a group called The Illuminati, they consist of key, powerful individuals from each corner of the Marvel Universe, all of Marvel’s different groups like The Avengers, X-Men, FF, etc. are represented in some form form or another. They include Tony Stark, Doctor Strange, Reed Richards, Charles Xavier and more. They’re kind of a bunch of pricks actually
Fearing that he will eventually become too dangerous and get out of control, The Illuminati (the pricks that they are) form a plan to trick Banner and send him (Long with the Hulk off Earth permanently ). They pick an uninhabited, ideallic, peaceful planet with everything he needs supplied on the ship to live out his natural life in comfort. In the eyes of Illuminati they are protecting the planet Earth and giving their friend Bruce Banner what he’s always wanted: some peace, to be left alone (Sure, justify it all you want you fucks). Being geniuses and all, you’d think that once Banner was on the space ship and a tape plays explaining what his so called “friends” had done to him, that The Illuminati could have predicted The Hulk would go apeshit and fuck up the space ship. Which, of course, he does. This knocks the ship off course and instead of landing on paradise planet he ends up on Sakaar , or as The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy called it, “The Gaping Asshole Of The Galaxy: 2016”. Ruled by a tyrannical King, one of the biggest parts of Sakaar’s culture is their Gladiator matches. The upper class of Sakaar watch various alien beings fight to the death. Using a device that allows the King of Sakaar and his minions to control Hulk, he reluctantly becomes a gladiator in the Gladiator Arena. Needless to say it’s fucking awesome. I’m sure you can imagine The Hulk would be pretty fucking good as a gladiator , even on an alien plane. The device keeping him a slave only keeps him from escaping, otherwise when he’s in the arena The Hulk cuts loose big time. It doesn’t take long for Hulk to becomes their star gladiator and eventually after making some a few friends and even falling in love, he leads a revolution to free all the slaves. I’ll stop hear because that’s the basic set up and it wouldn’t want say anymore to ruin the story. One of the unique and touching things about this comic is that out in space, The Hulk doesn’t look like a monster (he’s still scary to the other aliens when he wants to be) and all of admiration, acceptance and love that he was denied on Earth, he found here on this far away planet. It’s a great story with a gut punch of an ending which I won’t spoil here. The vast majority of The Hulk stuff in Thor: Ragnarok is from the Planet Hulk story. But not just that there are places and characters that are important in the comic that pop up in the new film. Including Korg the rock man and Meek his little friend he carries around, they’re key characters in Planet Hulk. Don’t think that just because you’ve seen Thor: Ragnarok that the Planet Hulk storyline is spoiled, it goes in some very different directions. It’s a modern classic Hulk story and any Hulk or Marvel fan needs to give this one a shot.
Thor: DissassembledWrtten by Mike Avon Oeming/Art by Andrea Di Vito
In the early aughts, a legendary comic book writer named Brian Michael Bendas began his run on what would become a classic run on the Avengers franchise. Before the main event you series began, he wrote a miniseries that set up the events of his upcoming Avengers run called Avengers Disassembled. Avengers Disassembled had a massive impact on the Avengers comics that are still being felt today, over 15 years later. The Avengers would never be the same. Along with this massive status quo change, many of the flagship Marvel characters got the similar clean slate treatment where big cataclysmic events happened in their lives. So there was Iron Man Disassembled, Captain America Disassembled, and most relevant here Thor Disassembled. Thor Disassembled is the biggest influence on for Thor: Ragnarok besides Planet Hulk. In the story, Ragnarok the Apocalypse for the Norse gods has begun. Loki, Hela, Surtur The Fire Demon, and Fenris Wolf all play a huge part. Ragnarok was an event that had been prophesies for centuries, so the Asgardians knew that one day this day would come. Much like the events of Thor: Ragnarok, Thor, Odin , Loki, and all the other gods were destroyed along with Asgard. However in Norse mythology death and rebirth is cyclical. Much like the revolving door of life and death in Comics. After Ragnarok it was destined for the gods to be reborn and starting with Thor, the new all father, Odin’s time having past. Though beloved by some, this is not a fantastic graphic novels by today’s standards. There are other Thor books that a excellent reads (a few I’ll list below). While Thor Disassembled isn’t great when compared to Marvel’s storytelling out put over the last 15 – 18 years. It’s not going to be one of your favorite comic books of all time., but it has some great moments especially if you’re interested after seeing Thor: Ragnarok. Asgard and everyone in it are completely take off the board in the Marvel Universe for several years after this story. However, that is far from the end of Thor Odinson and The Asgardians in the Marvel Universe.
After years of living a happy life and ruling the planet Sakaar with a wife and child on the way Hulk was finally at peace. Until the ship that brought him to the planet Sakaar in the first place (built by The Illuminati, these fucking guys again) suddenly explodes in a devastating wave killing Hulk’s pregnant wife, unborn child, dear friends, and more. Hulk has anger issues in the best of times, so after this, well… woe unto those who stand his way. As far as the Hulk Is concerned, The Illuminati are responsible for this death and destruction. Hulk gathers his greatest and most trusted warriors (including Korg the rock alien from Thor: Ragnarok) and comes to Earth in a Sakaaran Warship, seeking vengeance with brutal and unstoppable wrath. These fuckers finally pushed The Hulk too far. Thus World War Hulk begins. The Hulk has one main target, those pricks in The Illuminati: Tony Stark, Reed Richards, Doctor Strange, Black Bolt, Namor, and unbeknownst to Hulk (the deceased, at the moment anyway) Charles Xavier. He means to make them pay for the lives they took and the mistakes that they made. Many classic comic book questions like who would win in a fight between The Hulk and (X) are answered here. This is balls to the walls action, but there are some great character moments throughout. Including some surprising revelations about exactly who are Hulk’s friends and who are his enemies. It’s a great book and a great sequel to Planet Hulk.
Thor: God of Thunder Vol.1Written by Jason Aaron /Art by Esad Ribic
Thor: God of Thunder was started by Jason Aaron during Marvel’s, Marvel Now ! Initiative. It was by far one of the best books that came out at that time. Even though there’s been all kinds of crazy Marvel events and Thor books under new names, Jason Aaron’s Thor epic is still going strong, just under the new name, The Mighty Thor.
Thor: God of Thunder follows Thor through the eons and focuses on Thor at three very different points in his life. The past, present, and the distant future. The past, when he was a young irresponsible drunk, hanging out with the Vikings on Midgard, slaying any monster he could find, sleeping with any women he could find, and spending the entire time drinking copious amounts of ale. His dream is to one day weird the mighty Mijonir. This is not the Thor we know today, this is the Thor who is not yet worthy to wield the mighty Mijonir. He loves Earth and the humans who occupy it, but he doesn’t have the same humility and respect for humanity that we tend to see in Thor, but the hero is in there.
In the present, we see the Thor we know and love, the god that has become worthy to wield the mighty hammer. Thor: The Avenger. Hen he may be god, but he’s the type of guy you’d like to hang out and have a beer with. He’s gained some depth and humility since his younger days and learned the value of responsibility.
Finally we see millennia into the future where Old King Thor is one of the final gods in existence. Midgard has burned. Thor is The All-Father to a ruined and desolate Asgard. His only company is the wave after wave sent to him by Gor The God Biutcher. He is in a constant state of exhaustion to keep the army of his vicious and me at bay. Thor looks a lot like Odin here, he’s missing an eye like we see in the movie, and he seems to be missing his left arm. I’m not sure what the arm is made of, but it look similar to the material The Destroyer is built from. Any, even though I’m sure he‘d like his flesh and blood arm back, the one that’s forged for him functions exactly like a “normal” arm. We find out later in the story that after Thor lost his arm, the dwarves, the best smiths and makers in all of the nine realms forged him an arm prosthetic that makes him as good as new.
The common thread throughout the story, as we see Thor in these three very different points in his life is Gorr The God butcher. He’s basically a serial killer for god‘s. An absolute sadist and one of the dangerous most dangerous foes Thor has ever encountered. Why he is doing this and how he became so powerful is revealed throughout the story, so I won’t spoil it here. But it’s a fascinating and thought provoking story. Future All-Father Thor is keeping Gorr’s minions at bay, but Gorr’s real weapon is the Necrosword. This is rather cool Easter egg from Thor: Ragnarok. For reasons unknown, Hela wielded The Necrosword in the film. All that crazy black shit she could use to attack people and the fact that she was seemingly unstoppable, a lot of that came from the Necrosword, a incredibly powerful weapon. Don’t get me wrong, Hela is monumentally formidable on her own, but with the Necrosword she’s nearly impossible to beat. And to be honest I do not think she died in the destruction of Asgard. (Also, the inclusion of The Necrosword make hopeful we may see Gorr make an appearance in a Marvel film down the line)
That “God Butcher” storyline is probably one of the best Thor comics that has been written in years and it kicked off a run that continues to be one of my favorite books to come out month after month. When all said and done it will be hard to choose which story from this epic Thor run that is my favorite. Jason Aaron will be remembered as one of the greatest Thor writers we’ve ever had. If you like Thor at all this is an absolute must.
Indestructible Hulk Written by Mark WaId/Art by Various
Indestructible Hulk is a great series from long time comic book writer Marc WaId. Basically, Banner has come to terms with fact that he and The Hulk are one being, he’s made his peace with the monster inside him. But he wants to be remembered for more than just the destruction caused by The Hulk. People often forget that Banner is in the same intellectual league as men like Tony Stark, Reed Richards, and Hank Pym. With the possible exception of Pym, because he created fucking Ultron, these men will be remembered for their incredible scientific achievements. While Banner will be remembered for being a monster. So, Banner approaches Maria Hill who is the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. at the time. He proposes that she sets him up with a lab, resources and staff to build wonders: new, clean renewable energy, cures to cancer, solutions to the negative impact of climate change, etc. In return, she gets The Hulk. Even though he’s gone to extraordinary lengths to greatly reduce the risk of turning into The Hulk, Banner has realized that Hulk episodes are inevitable. When that happens, it’s Hills job to step in and aim The Hulk wherever the smashing needs to be done. Because there’s no shortage of bad guys, terrorist groups, and super villains up to no good on, a daily basis, all around the world in the Marvel Universe. It’s really fun book with great art that does something different with The Hulk: Bruce Banner Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.. There are a lot of great guest stars from throughout the Marvel universe including Tony Stark, Thor, Beast and many more. Waid’s entire run on the series is collected in one easy to read volume. Highly recommended.
Ultimate Wolverine Vs HulkWritten by Damon Lindelof/Art by Leinil Francis YU
Wolverine and The Hulk are long time rivals. Even though this story technically takes place in the Ultimate Universe (Before it merger with Marvel Earth-616 or Marvel Earth Prime as it’s now known. Wow. What a nerdy sentence. I’m proud of myself) it’s a great story with some very minor, superficial things that carried over into Thor: Ragnarok. The fact that the story has beautiful art and was written by the creator of LOST is a big draw too. Great book to check out.
Avengers DisassembledWritten by Brian Michael Bendis/Art by David Finch
This was the main story that Thor Disassembled tied into. This is NOT required reading if you’re just looking for cool Hulk and Thor stories to read after you’ve seen Thor: Ragnarok. However, it is the beginning of Bendis’ modern classic Avengers run, which ran for close to a decade. Fantastic Avengers stories. Start with Avengers vol.1 Breakout and keep going from there if you’re hooked.