There is an interesting rumor floating around that may have profound implications for the MCU. Captain America: Civil War is being billed as Avengers 2.5, but notably omits two central Avengers: Thor and Hulk. If these rumors are true, then it appears these missing Avengers play a bigger role in the MCU than we all previously believed.
THIS POST CONTAINS POSSIBLE SPOILERS YO!
Age of Ultron contained a very interesting (and due to cuts, a somewhat truncated) sub-plot for Thor. Of all the Avengers, Thor was the only one to arguably see into the future (A case can be made that Stark also saw the future, but that’s a different post). Thor saw his friends in what may have been Hel or Valhalla, and got a quick glimpse at some Infinity Stones. With the help of Dr. Selvig, Thor went to a sparky lake and had a clearer vision: that Thor was responsible for everyone’s death, as well as the recent activity with the Infinity Stones. Thor realized that the stones were the most powerful forces in this universe, and helped activate Vision. After Ultron was defeated, Thor told Cap and Stark that he needed to investigate the Infinity Stones, as someone was playing them as pawns in a bigger, more dangerous game.
A different subplot of Age of Ultron was Banner’s further struggle with Hulk, and the fact that the world finally saw the real, raw Hulk and what he was capable of. Fearing commitment and hurting his closest, ahem, friends, HULK (not Banner) decided on a self-imposed exile (again, the fact that the decision was made by Hulk is a post for another day). At the end of the movie, Fury told Black Widow that they may have discovered the wreckage of the Quinjet, but due to Stark’s stealth technology, could not confirm it.
Notably, both Thor and Hulk are not participating in Civil War. Thor’s back in Asgard and Hulk is M.I.A. Initially, there were reports (from Ruffalo himself) that Hulk was in the Civil War script, but, alas, he was written out. Marvel wanted to save the mystery of his location for later.
Now, a report from JoBlo.com indicates that Hulk’s next appearance will come in Thor: Ragnarok (talk about burying the lede).
The most interesting bit of the article is here:
Mark Ruffalo joins Tom Hiddleston (also confirmed by our sources) and Jaimie Alexander in RAGNAROK, which we’ve also heard will involve a “distant planet” that is “not Asgard and not Earth.” What does that mean? Certainly the theory will be made that this is where Marvel will work in the long-rumored Planet Hulk storyline, and although we can’t completely verify that, we can’t completely deny it either. I’ll leave it to you on how you want to place your bets, but I know where my money is going.
Ragnarok is going to be the story of Thor trying to save Asgard (and really, the entirety of the Nine Realms), so it makes sense that he will not be on Midgard, and makes double sense that he would not stay in Asgard, either. Ragnarok is a big story involving the death of Odin and Loki and Thor and Heimdall and many others, and results in the world (could it be Midgard? Asgard? the universe?) starting anew. Maybe Thor needs some help.
Think about it: We have no confirmation either way that the wreckage Fury showed Black Widow was this Quinjet. It’s possible that Hulk made it into space, and somehow ended up on some distant planet. With the rainbow bridge and the Monolith and the Tesseract, the MCU is confirmed to have quick ways to get across the universe; maybe Hulk found his way though one of these and crashed on some distant planet, much like Simmons did on Agents of SHIELD.
Maybe (we can dream), Marvel mo-capped Ruffalo for an end-credits scene for the end of Civil War to tease Ragnarok while he was in Germany with the cast. That would take a few days tops, and give them months to finish it up in CGI. Ruffalo would only be needed for the initial face scans. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 has been confirmed to only contain one human: Star Lord, and Gunn specifically called bullshit on the idea of Hulk ending up in the movie. Ragnarok comes in line after Guardians Vol.2, and given Guardians’ disassociation from the Earth-centric MCU, it makes sense that it’ll stay that way (at least until Star Lord hears Thanos is headed for Earth...) I wonder if one end-credits scene teases Guardians and the second teases Ragnarok? They could do a quick shot of Hulk going through some wormhole (maybe left over Chitauri tech orbiting Earth or Kree influence), with Hulk crashing on an alien planet.
Hell, Guardians of the Galaxy used Sakaarans, who can easily replace the Brood or other Non-Disney owned races.
Then, in Ragnarok, Planet Hulk could be a quick B-plot solved by Thor. Show Hulk in some arena against his will, wrecking shit. Thor, realizing the scope of the conflict in Ragnarok, asks Heimdall to find his green friend to help in the fight. Heimdall can see everyone (so long as they are in this universe), and rainbow-bridge summons Hulk to Asgard in the middle of a fight. This way, they don’t have to use a whole movie on Hulk, and can give fans a good taste of what they’ve wanted. Hulk and Thor team up with Loki in Ragnarok, then head back to Earth together for Infinity Wars, Part I or II, depending on the outcome.
Hulk has so far proven to be a better supporting character than a main protagonist, and Marvel is smart not to rush into another solo film until they get the right mood and story. It has to have the proper amount of Hulk and Banner, but a Planet Hulk movie has to be almost 100% Hulk. Where’s the fun in that?
Ninja Edit: Korg was in Thor: The Dark World. The precedent is set: