Thursday, April 23, 2015

Connecting Imaginary Dots: Could Spider-Man and Hulk Team Up in the Savage Land?


What follows is most likely ridiculous speculation based off of facts. If that doesn't sound like your thing, then by all means feel free to pass on save yourself the time. It will contain a tiny spoiler concerning the whereabouts of the Hulk at the conclusion of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Every now and then I get struck with the urge to write something so irrational that it defies any sort of logic. This is one of those times. I take in so much on a daily basis that sometimes I mix things together and start to connect invisible dots and tug on imaginary strings. This is a case where if I had one of those big boards people use to solve crimes, I'd have some strings going from one place to another that most nobody else would agree with, but here it is: I think it's possible that at least part of Marvel's Spider-Man movie might take place in the Savage Land and that it might just include an appearance by the Hulk.

Now while the last sentence is purely speculative, you should know that it is based on a collection of facts and truths and while these things may no longer be true today, they most certainly were at some point. The fact that things like this are so susceptible to change makes doing pieces like this a wasted exercise at times. For instance, it's a fact that at one point Joss Whedon's script did have the Hulk being shot into outerspace. Some of you chose not to believe that because it came from El Mayimbe, but it's been confirmed by SEVERAL other reputable sources. It was in a version of the script and, when you see the movie, you'll see that it was altered slightly to have the Hulk end up at an "unknown" location rather than in space. Now, if a script can change during shooting, clearly ideas that never made it to the scripting stage can disappear just as easily. 

Ideas like those were the genesis for this piece: things that, as far as I know, have not even bee scripted, but were tossed around PLUS one big stretch on my part. 

Fact #1: Marvel Previously Tried Developing Ka-Zar 


The first of those facts came way back in  April of 2010, courtesy of Badass Digest's Devin Faraci when he was writing for CHUD. Marvel Studios was in its infancy at the time, having only released Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk and the Avengers in its earliest stages of development with Joss Whedon having been selected to direct only a week before.

Faraci reported at the time that Marvel Studios had been taking meetings with creative teams to begin developing smaller budget films based on a list of properties. Among those properties were Luke Cage, Doctor Strange, Power Pack and Ka-Zar, Lord of the Hidden Jungle or the Savage Land.

If you think about that list, Marvel has obviously developed Doctor Strange (headed to screens November 4, 2016) and Luke Cage (headed to Netflix, first in A.K.A. Jessica Jones before headlining his own series), but we've heard literally NOTHING about the further development of Ka-Zar or the Power Pack characters.

Of great interest here is the fact that Marvel Studios was developing Ka-Zar, a character rooted in the Savage Land, when most would have assumed that the live-action rights to the Savage Land and the associated characters would reside with Fox since they debuted in X-Men #10. We'll come back to this point soon.

Fact #2 Like It or Not, Hulk Has Always Been Going AWOL in AoU



Whether you like El Mayimbe or not, he was on point with his report that Hulk would be on a Quinjet at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron. It seems that the original intent was to open the possibility that he could team up with the Guardians of the Galaxy in the event that their first film was not hugely successful. That certainly was not the case and so, the plan evolved. It's certainly possible that El Mayimbe's scoop might have even had a hand in the change of plans but, whatever the case, Hulk will NOT be in space, but he WILL be MIA.

It's important that Hulk, along with Thor, be off the board when the heroes face off with each other in next year's Captain America: Civil War. Both Thor and Hulk are big time game changers (I'm starting to wonder if even Vision might not be too big of a player, for that matter) and should sit it out for their own reasons. It seems like Whedon has conveniently given Hulk the out he needs at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, shipping him off to parts unknown. 

Fact #3 Drew Goddard LOVES the Savage Land


Drew Goddard is strongly linked to Marvel's Studios upcoming Spider-Man film. While I've seen rumors to the contrary from unreliable hacks, I've yet to see anything that leads me to believe anyone other than Goddard is in charge of that film.

You may remember Goddard was originally in charge of Marvel's Daredevil before jumping ship to help Sony develop their now defunct Sinister Six film. While working to develop that film, Goddard seemed set on including the Savage Land in some capacity. The Sony email leaks give us some insight into Goddard's wishes and the fact that neither Sony NOR Fox hold the rights to the Savage Land, leaving them with Marvel Studios.

Goddard was willing to do whatever he had to do to incorporate the Savage Land into his film, even if he couldn't call it that. Now that he's working with Marvel Studios again, it won't be an issue.

Fact #4: People Developing the Spider-Man Movie are Researching Savage Land/Spidey Stories



According to Rich Johnston at Bleeding Cool, a comic book retailer reached out to him passing on a very interesting bit of info: Sony folks associated with the upcoming film have been buying up comic books that involve Spider-Man, the Savage Land and the Hulk.

Marvel Fanfare #1-4 and The Sensational Spider-Man, Volume 2 #13-15 are the issues being sought out. The Marvel Fanfare issues involve the X-Men, but the interesting and applicable part of those issues might be the part where Spidey mutates into a bug-like him. The Sensational Spider-Man issues are known as the Savage Land Saga and involve Spidey working with Ka-Zar and Shanna the She-Devil working to save the Savage Land. Hulk and Savage Land villain Stegron stop by for additional fun.

Those are the facts, though I'll have some speculation below.

Fact #5: Marvel Studios Can't Make Solo Hulk Films Without Paying Out to Universal



This one is fresh off the press from the lips of Mark Ruffalo. While Marvel Studios can throw the Hulk in any movie they want, if they develop a Hulk solo film, they have to pay Universal a but for distribution.

With that in mind, alongside the popularity of the Hulk since Joss Whedon re-introduced him in Avengers AND Mark Ruffalo's contract, it isn't as if he can disappear forever at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Marvel Studios could play ball with Universal and develop a solo film, but they are CLEARLY choosing not to which means the only time we'll see the Jade Giant is when he pops into other franchises.

James Gunn has repeatedly said he won't be showing up in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. I don't see him showing up in Black Panther or Captain Marvel and taking the spotlight away from Marvel Studios' first minority and female leads respectively. That leaves Thor: Ragnarok (hard to believe he'd fit there), Spider-Man, Doctor Strange and Inhumans. While I'd love to see Hulk go up against Black Bolt and I'd love to see him show up in Doctor Strange (a character with whom he has a rich history) he just simply fits best in Spider-Man because...

Fact #6: Spidey and Hulk Have Teamed Up/Faced Off...OFTEN



Hell, there was even a title called Spider-Man and Hulk. These two have had some great interchanges throughout the year and their relationship, both while working together or righting each other, has always been enjoyable.

Fact #7: Marvel Studios Has "Amazing" Plans for the Hulk




Start around the 20:00 minute mark of the above press conference to hear Joss Whedon and Mark Ruffalo briefly tease the future plans for the Hulk. While it's not much, it does imply that they have something and you can read whatever you like into Whedon's statement that the plans are "too amazing." Whedon, of course, is very close to Spider-Man's rumored director Drew Goddard and could have done his his buddy a solid by sending the Hulk to an undisclosed location at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, leaving it open for him to later be found in the Savage Land.

End of facts.


Now I can speculate a bit here and there's a lot of that to go around.

My crazy imaginary dots have lead me to wonder if we'll see Hulk team-up with Spidey in the Savage Land when Marvel Studios releases their Spider-Man film July 28, 2017. It's the best fit for the Hulk of all the potential Phase 3 films not titled Avengers: Infinity War (films in which we most certainly WILL see the Hulk).

Hulk is out there somewhere. His Quinjet went to some island. I've not yet seen Avengers: Age of Ultron, but the descriptions of this island that I've read have been all over the map. I've read Fiji, I've read the arctic, I've read people who say it's intentionally ambiguous. Who's to say it wasn't the Savage Land? Who's to say that it was the Savage Land? It's not as if he couldn't leap his big ass there if he wanted to, afterall.

Whedon's comments about the "amazing" plans connect to Spider-Man in the slightest of ways as I wonder about whether or not Marvel Studios is going to use Hulk more often than once in the next 3 years.

I don't expect Hulk would star in the film, but it'd be cool to see him check in with Spidey while in the Savage Land. And as for the setting of the Savage Land itself, I'm aware it's not NYC and that we'd all expect to see the Wall Crawler swinging through the familiar cityscape, but I can't shake the idea that if you REALLY wanted to separate yourself from the previous Spider-Man films, taking Spidey to an island full of dinosaurs would certainly be one way. You wonder if people are going to know this is your film now and that it exists in the MCU? Put Hulk in it...problem solved.

With the news that Sony is now developing a 2018 animated film, it's completely possible that the people buying the comics are actually doing Savage Land research for that film, one that is now not believed to be tied in with the MCU films in any way, but Drew Goddard isn't developing that one as far as I know.

The point is, there are, at this juncture, a lot of possibilities and very few certainties about the next live-action Spider-Man film. At this point, it's just fun for me to entertain the possibility of Spidey and Hulk teaming up or facing off in the Savage Land, if only for a brief time. Of course, there's always the future of Spidey films, but then again there's always the fact that, at one time, Kraven went to the Savage Land and did some damage AND that Kraven has been widely rumored to be one of the potential villains in the upcoming Spider-Man film.

So, if I get to make things up in my head after considering all the facts, then I pick a movie in which Spidey visits the Savage Land and teams up with Hulk, Ka-Zar and Shanna to kick Kraven's ass!

Now, like I said in the beginning, all this at the end was ridiculous speculation and is entirely unlikely to happen and I don't ever expect it to...but, you know, just in case.

SOURCES: CHUD.com, Bleeding Cool, Badass Digest