After a while spinning its wheels in development muck it looks like the third instalment of the Thor franchise, [Thor: Ragnarok](tag:956858) is finally trundling on down the path to production.
Thor 3 will be the fifth movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 3, and it's set to take us back to the stars as Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has to return home to face the Norse apocalypse. I loved the first Thor, so this is one of the most anticipated Phase 3 films for me - especially as Marvel's Kevin Feige has confirmed that it will be instrumental in setting up the events of [The Avengers: Infinity War](tag:738027):
"This is a very important movie for us in Phase 3. We plan on taking Thor to another level. It picks up where we leave Thor in Avengers: Age of Ultron and impacts everything that comes after."
There's been a few interesting pieces of news crawling out of the woodwork recently, not least of all that Taikia Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Green Lantern) is in the process of hammering out a deal to come on board Thor 3 as director. Filming is tapped to begin June 2016, and there may well be a surprising member of the Avengers making an appearance..
The Hulk / Bruce Banner
So as of last week it's been widely reported that Mark Ruffalo is in final talks to appear as Bruce Banner/Hulk in Thor: Ragnarok (and he's officially listed as a cast member on IMDB now, so it must be true).
This follows on from the widespread speculation that Hulk would appear in [Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2](tag:1081113) as a part-adaptation of the Planet Hulk comic book arc. These rumours were shut down a while back by Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn (never one to mince words, he called the rumours "complete bullshit").
It seems like the rumour mill was half-way right though, as we may next see the Hulk leaving planet Earth. But, as much as I've been looking forward to seeing Banner/Hulk appear and hopefully get a little bit more character development thrown his way, Thor: Ragnarok seems like an odd choice, does it not?
Thor & Hulk's History
The comic book Thor and Hulk were both created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, and they've have fought almost as many times as they've teamed up (as we saw in The Avengers back in 2012) but the MCU (Earth-199999, not Earth-616 of the comics) is very different.
There's a lot of backstory missing that would need to be shoehorned in somewhere in Thor: Ragnarok for this Hulk appearance to make sense, particularly as the popular opinion is that the next Thor film will be set neither on Asgard nor Earth. This does give the writers a means by which to bring in more cosmic elements from the Marvel universe like the Crossroads or the planet Sakaar, but how Hulk gets there is a matter that will require addressing and may encroach a little too much on the Ragnarok narrative.
The Hulk/Thor relationship in the MCU thus far has been used mainly as comic relief, the two super-powered beings beating the crap out of each other for no apparent reason.
Whilst Hulk appearing in Thor: Ragnarok would obviously give us a means by which to further said relationship, it does seem like a bit of an odd choice. Then again, I wouldn't say our MCU Thor has a particular chemistry with any one specific member of the Avengers (except maybe Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans)). And we do need an explanation for where Hulk has been since [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035), and this would give us a way to explore that narrative.
Though fans may secretly be waiting for the 'Science Bros' solo film, for now it looks like the only time we're going to get to see Ruffalo's Banner/Hulk appearing before Infinity Wars is in Thor: Ragnarok, but will he stand at Thor's side when Ragnarok comes?
Thor: Ragnarok starring Chris Hemsworth (Thor); Tom Hiddleston (Loki); Jaime Alexander (Sif) and Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk) is expected to hit theatres on November 3rd 2017.
Related: 3 New Gods That Could Be Introduced In Thor: Ragnarok; Captain America, Thor & Star Lord: 3 Characters Key to the Avengers Infinity War?; 3 Ways The Avengers: Age of Ultron Deleted Scenes Drop Teasers For Thor: Ragnarok