Hello, my friends. We’re nearing the outer limits of this particular set, but we’ve still got some room to explore. Welcome once again to the review series known as…
For the third-straight time, everyone’s favorite Jolly Green Giant is ready to take part in another film. This time however, the battlegrounds aren’t even on Earth. It’s time for an otherworldly tale called…
Originally released on February 10, 2010, this film is based on a 2006-2007 storyline of the same name written by Greg Pak, drawn by Carlo Pagulayan & Aaron Lopresti and inked by Jeffrey Huet. How does the series’ penultimate outing handle its adaptation? Let’s find out.
We open with the Hulk (voiced by Rick D. Wasserman) waking up to find a holographic message appearing in front of him. It turns out that Iron Man (voiced by Marc Worden) and the superhero community have placed their gamma giant into a S.H.I.E.L.D. spaceship and sent him out towards outer space. He tells the Hulk that he’s “a force of destruction” that even Earth’s finest heroes have trouble keeping under control. To finally make sure that he’s no longer a threat to any innocent life on Earth (or any innocent life in general), he’s being sent to a planet that’ll provide him with food to eat, yet won’t have any living beings that’ll be in constant danger of his wrath.
While the message is playing, the Hulk rips out of his restraints and starts to decimate the spaceship. Ultimately, the craft gets damaged enough to the point where the guidance system starts to malfunction and ends up redirecting the spaceship towards a wormhole.
While all of that is going on, we intercut with an alien prophet on the planet Sakaar. He states that this particular world is in turmoil and tells of a prophecy that will bring about a warrior called “The Sakaarson” who will help in defeating a current evil & bring the kingdoms together since it’s through “his blood” that will help “restore life to all of Sakaar”. As if an answer to his prayers, the Hulk’s damaged spaceship arrives through the wormhole and crash-lands on the planet.
Following the opening credits, we cut to sometime later as the Hulk emerges from the wrecked spacecraft. However, he’s unable to have some time to get used to his new surroundings as a large group of small bug-like aliens immediately attack him. Though they manage to make him bleed by stabbing his leg, the Hulk is able to fend off the beings for as long as he can.
Just then, three royal pink-skinned guards arrive as they speak in an alien language. From there, they fire a disk that latches onto the Hulk’s chest. It turns out that it injected him with talkbots that manged to help his brain understand their language as the head royal guard tells the aliens that anything valuable that arrives through the “Great Portal” ends up becoming “Imperial Property”. The yellow aliens reluctantly surrender their find as the Hulk rises to his feet and refuses to kneel. As such, the head guard fires an energy shot from his staff towards the implanted disk. The Hulk suddenly feels incredible pain as it ends up causing him to pass out.
Later, Hulk wakes up inside a transport vehicle among several other alien beings. Due to an aftereffect of going through the wormhole and the fact that his chains were “Shadowforged”, he’s unable to break free from his bonds. As such, he meets up with Lavin Skee (voiced by Michael Kopsa) who tells him that they’re on their way to the coliseum where they’ll be fighting to the death. However, the black alien bug named Miek (voiced by Sam Vincent) says that he’s not much of a fighter. Lavin counters by saying that every single prisoner must work together if they intend to see their freedom.
As such, he draws up his battle plan. He’ll have the Hulk team-up with a rock monster named Korg (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) and serve as the group’s front line in order to weaken their adversaries. He then tells a gray-skinned combatant named Hiroim (voiced by Liam O’Brien) and their robotic ally named Android (voiced by Lee Tockar) that they’ll stand alongside him as the second line. Finally, Miek will be alongside the lone woman named Elloe Kaifi (voiced by Advah Soudack) and his fellow natives on the final line.
However, the yellow alien bugs refuse to help out for two reasons. 1. Unlike Miek, they were naturally hived. 2. Lavin once served the Red King. Elloe objects to the latter excuse, since she states that he sided with the resistance in order to fight the oppressive ruler. Shortly afterwards, they arrive at their destination.
As such, our would-be gladiators arrive at the Crown City Coliseum where they’re introduced to the crowd. After receiving their swords, the announcer unveils their first opponent: The Kronens. However, Korg is shocked to find out that it’s his own former friends that he’s forced to fight. He tries to reason with them, but the head Kronen named Margus proceeds to punch Korg to the ground.
To make matters worse, both Hulk and Miek have no interest in fighting as they try to make their escape. With their battle plan scrapped before the fight even begins, Android decides to lead the charge as the remaining warriors proceed to tangle with the Kronens. Lavin and Hiroim would follow suit as they manage to wound one of the opposing rock creatures by slicing off its left arm and wounding its left eye. However, Lavin gets blindsided by another Kronen, resulting in him getting injured.
Overseeing the fight, Elloe asks the yellow bug-aliens to help her teammates out. However, they refuse her command and instead go after the wounded Kronen in order to get an easy kill. Unfortunately for them, the wounded rock monster still has enough fight to easily massacre them.
During the fight, Lavin tells Korg that he’s the only one who’s capable of defeating the Kronen. However, Korg refuses to fight his own brethren. Suddenly, one of the opposing rock monsters uses a shattered sword and stabs Lavin in the back. As the Hulk watches from afar, Lavin succumbs to the fatal wound and dies. While Elloe rushes to his side in tears, Korg begs for the fight to stop. However, Margus doesn’t comply as he tries to attack. Enraged, Korg finally caves in and starts to beat up his former friend. Just then, Margus’ allies notice what’s happening as they attempt to aid their comrade. Fortunately, the fight ends when Korg grabs Margus by the leg and throws him with enough force for all three Kronen beings to shatter.
Up in the royal balcony, the ruler of the kingdom named the Red King (voiced by Mark Hildreth) wonders why “the green one” isn’t fighting, to which the announcer named Primus Vand (voiced by Russell Roberts) assures him that he will. Down below, Miek asks for the Hulk to get the doors open before they’re spotted by the Red King. After learning of his true captor, the Hulk changes his mind and starts to head towards him.
Before he can reach his target however, another creature awaits our heroes: the Cavaranthus Mazorus a.k.a. the Great Devil Corker. The massive beast proceeds to destroy Android before grabbing the majority of the gladiators in its tentacles. Fortunately, the Hulk quickly brings the creature down with a single punch to its head, causing it to release our heroes and collapse in defeat.
Afterwards, the Hulk leaps up to attack the Red King. However, his personal bodyguard named Caiera (voiced by Lisa Ann Beley) delivers a powerful shove and knocks him back onto the battlefield. Afterwards, Red King decides to fight the Hulk in his massive battle armor.
During the fight, the Red King manages to cut the Hulk’s face hard enough to make him bleed. Hiroim tosses a sword to him as he returns the favor by landing a decisive cut onto the Red King’s face, bleeding him in the process.
From there, Caiera jumps into the fray and proceeds to tangle with the Hulk. After a short while, the Red King blindsides our incredible hero with a pair of energy blasts. As the shots send the Hulk into the wall and cause him to lose consciousness, even the audience disapproves of their king’s cheap-shot tactics. To win back the crowd, the Red King tells them that he won’t kill the Hulk for the sake of entertainment.
Later, our heroes have been sent into a prison cell with the Hulk again trying and failing to break out due to his weakened state. Meanwhile, his fellow gladiators have gathered around Lavin’s corpse in order to give their fallen comrade a proper memorial. Out of respect for their leader, they agree to unite as one and become a gladiator group called “Warbound”. As such, Hiroim begins the process by explaining his backstory. In it, he’s scolded by the Shadow Priesthood for not respecting the Red King. After all, they believe that he’s fulfilling a prophecy by becoming the Sakaarson and has brought an end to the Spike Wars. However, Hiroim counter-argues by saying that it’s the Red King’s own Death’s Head Guards that not only ended the war, but it’s the same armada that he uses to lord his power over the various kingdoms. Despite the prophecy also hinting towards a being called “World Breaker”, the Shadow Preisthood refuse to believe it and ask for Hiroim to join them. However, he only states that he’ll only herald the arrival of “the real Sakaarson” before he takes his leave.
The flashback ends on an image of the Red Prince (a.k.a. the future Red King) alongside a young Caiera overlooking an admirable crowd as Hiroim states that his priesthood status was stripped from him and he was ultimately sold into slavery.
From there, Korg begins to explain his backstory. Before being betrayed by his brethren, they plundered several worlds together. In one particular situation, they captured a being on Earth for study purposes. As they found out however, it wasn’t a regular human that ended up in their cage. Breaking out of his imprisonment, it turns out that they tried and failed to capture the Asgardian Thunder God himself, Thor. Korg and his brothers tried to fight back, but Thor is easily able to take them down.
With the Kronen on the ropes, they unleash their best weapon onto the Thunder God: The Warbot. It starts to turn the tide as it unleashes a pair of powerful beams onto Thor which keeps him at bay. However, the Thunder God gets some much-needed help in the form of Beta Ray Bill (voiced by Paul Dobson). Together, they summon massive lightning bolts and destroy the Warbot with one powerful blast. With no other choice, Korg and his brothers are forced to retreat back into space. Beta Ray Bill tries to follow them, but the story ends with Korg claiming that they escaped through a wormhole. From there, they crash-landed on Sakaar and ultimately wound up at the Crown City Coliseum where Korg was forced to kill his brothers. From there, the scene ends with Elloe taking her turn at the Warbound ritual.
The next day, Hulk and the Warbound return to the battlefield with brand-new battle armor. With the crowd believing that the Hulk is the prophesied Sakaarson, our heroes acquire their weapons as their next opponents are shown to them: a group of robotized creatures called the Wildebots. While the Warbound Gladiators initially shield themselves, the Hulk takes out the first wave of robotic creatures.
Once the Wildebots manage to reach the Warbound Gladiators and start attacking them, they begin to strike back and join the battle. After displaying an impressive teamwork maneuver, they manage to defeat enough of their robotic foes as the Hulk comes in and finishes the remaining creatures off.
However, the fight’s not over yet as the Red King orders for the head Wildebot to go after our gladiators. As such, the Eggbreaker is unleashed and goes after the Hulk. It then unleashes a pair of energy beams from the sides of its mouth and tries to strike our heroes. However, the Hulk manages to weave his way around the blasts and leaps up towards the creature. The Eggbreaker manages to catch him in its mouth and swallows him as the Red King believes that the Jolly Green Giant has finally been defeated. However, the Hulk manages to tear the mighty beast from the inside-out as he rips it apart and topples the giant being to the ground.
As our heroes take their victorious leave, Hiroim notices that some of the Hulk’s blood has spilled onto the battlefield and is actually making a small plant grow. Afterwards, the scene ends with Miek discovering something important left over from the carnage.
After watching the Hulk’s performance, Caiera visits his cell that night and temporarily releases him from his prison in order to talk about the Red King. Hulk tells her that he’s “a coward” from what his fellow imprisoned warriors tell him, but Caiera rejects such notion about Sakaar’s present savior. Because she had first-hand experience of his noble acts, she begins to tell her backstory on how she met the future Red King and how he became her closet ally.
It began when she was just 13 years old when a rocket pod fell onto Sakaar. It then unleashed a swarm of creatures called Spikes that rained down upon the citizens. Once it latched onto an individual, they became infected and ended up becoming monstrous beings.
As such, she was forced to take refuge in her home. However, even the roof over her head couldn’t withstand the impact as the Spikes began to pelt their way through. She gets hit by one of the Spikes, but Caiera explains that she resisted its poisonous grasp due to her having the power of the “Oldstrong”. However, her parents were hit by the Spikes and start to mutate into monstrous creatures.
With no other choice, Caiera grabs a double-bladed staff and ends up stabbing her parents to death. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she also discovers that her younger brother was also infected by the Spikes as she’s forced to slay her sibling off-screen.
Later, she emerges from the rubble of her collapsed house to find the citizens of her town completely infected by the Spikes. Just then, they’re blasted from existence by the Death’s Head Guards. Emerging from behind them is the Red Prince who closes out the flashback by giving her his caring hand, to which she accepts.
Back in the present, the Hulk wonders why she’s telling him this story. Caiera explains that his triumphant actions in the coliseum is winning over the crowd and focusing their love away from the Red King. She also says that she overheard of a rescue mission coming to break Elloe out. Caiera promises to not bring any unwanted attention towards the operation on the condition that he goes with them. She also explains that his obedience disk will become inoperable once he reaches the mountain range outside of town. However, the Hulk refuses to back away from the opportunity to go after the Red King. Afterwards, he proceeds to head back into his cell.
Shortly after returning, Miek gives him what he found from their recent battle: The Eye of the Eggbreaker. He tells the Hulk of a prophecy where the true Sakaarson stares down death itself and doesn’t back down. Since the Eggbreaker was the equivalent of death to the natives, Miek is convinced that Hulk is the destined savior as he places the Eye around the Jolly Green Giant’s neck.
Sometime later, the rescue party arrives as Elloe is relieved to see her ticket to freedom led by Felan. However, the Hulk warns her that they’re dead meat if they attempt to flee. It turns out that not everyone is on board with the escape mission as Hiroim feels that the Hulk’s talk with Caiera of the Shadow Guard contained an important detail. Korg also refuses to escape since they’re only one victory away from earning their freedom, while Miek believes that the Hulk is the destined Sakaarson. As such, Elloe is the only one to join the rescue group as they attempt to flee towards the safe haven in An-Sara. Shortly after the cell doors close however, the remaining Warbound members hear opposing gunfire with the rescue party finding themselves caught in an ambush as the fight ends with Elloe’s blood-curling scream making our heroes think that she didn’t survive the surprise attack.
The day of the final round has arrived as Hulk & the Warbound Gladiators take to the battlefield with the crowd cheering them on. However, a surprise combatant is the lone obstacle that separates them from their freedom. It turns out that the last opponent is none other than Beta Ray Bill. Korg is stunned as he informs his teammates that he came across him before and that his foe managed to reach the wormhole during his pursuit before it closed.
Right out of the gate, the Warbound Gladiators find themselves completely outmatched by Beta Ray Bill’s otherworldly strength as he easily smacks them around. The Hulk finally has his chance to get in on the fight, but the Asgardian warrior uses his trusty hammer called Stormbreaker and ends up smacking the Jolly Green Giant around.
Hulk manages to score a few hits, but Beta Ray Bill keeps up his furiosity. During the fight, Hiroim notices that some of Hulk’s blood has spilled onto the battlefield. Even more surprising, it’s causing a few plants to grow as he remembers the prophecy: “And through his blood, he shall restore life to all of Sakaar”.
Back in the fight, the Hulk lands near a small group of swords after getting hit. From there, he manages to turn the tide in the fight as he throws all of the blades at his foe. Beta is able to deflect most of the swords, but one manages to strike his own obedience disk and cause it to short-circuit, freeing him from the Red King’s control.
Even though Beta Ray Bill manages to regain control over himself, the Hulk comes in and decks the Asgardian across the battleground before jumping over and landing on top of him. From there, our Jolly Green Giant starts to viciously assault Beta with a barrage of punches. After a short while, even the crowd stops cheering when they become horrified at the gruesome attacks. Korg manages to step in and stop the Hulk from beating Beta to death as our heroes claim their final victory.
From there, the Red King greets our heroes with congratulatory salute. When the Hulk demands for his group’s well-earned freedom, the ruler of Sakaar gives them one last task before he’ll grant their request: Our heroes must slay a captured traitor to the crown. When the prisoner is brought before them, the Red King removes the bag from its head, revealing it to be Elloe. It turns out that she was the lone survivor from the failed escape attempt. When Hulk and the Warbound Gladiators refuse to kill their comrade, the Red King punishes the group by activating their obedience disks and begins to torture them to death.
Just then, a battered Beta Ray Bill regains consciousness and uses his trusty hammer to deliver a powerful shockwave that shatters our heroes’ obedience disks. Not only that, but it also destroys the same obedience disks that are on the Red King’s guards and every prisoner that’s within their cells. From there, he proclaims freedom for everyone before he throws Stormbreaker into the coliseum wall with enough destructive force to create a passage towards the outside world.
While the freed prisoners begin to overwhelm the guards, Beta Ray Bill offers to help the Hulk get back to Earth. However, our Jolly Green Giant says that it’s no longer his home planet. As such, Beta takes his leave as his begins his flight back to Asgard.
As the prisoners make their way through the newly-created tunnel towards their freedom, the Hulk grabs the Red King by the neck and gives him a warning: Don’t come after me or you’ll suffer my wrath. By the time Caiera sees this from a distance and manages to fight her way towards her master, the Hulk has taken his leave.
Shortly afterwards, Hulk meets up with the Warbound Gladiators as Elloe informs the group of a mountain reservoir at An-Sara that they can use to hide out. In addition, its Governor supports the resistance group. However, the Hulk isn’t interested in joining them since he feels that his fight is over. Miek tries convincing him with the comfort of being around those who support him and that he’s become a newfound friend. Despite the admirable begging, Hulk rudely rejects the offer by stating that he doesn’t “need any friends” before he walks off on his own. As such, Elloe brings Miek back to the group as they head off towards An-Sara.
Sometime later, we have a quick scene inside the Crown City Castle as an enraged Red King orders Caiera to go hunt down and kill the Hulk. She reluctantly accepts her orders and takes off while the Red King continues his temper-tantrum & throws several objects around his palace.
Meanwhile, the Warbound arrive at An-Sara where they’re given shelter by Governor Churik (voiced by Donald Adams). As they make their way down the stairs, Miek hears distant echos that sound like his own people. After rejoining the group, Churik drops them off at their sleeping quarters.
We then have a quick scene where the Hulk is leaping around the vast landscape before he ends up seeing An-Sara from a distance. He also happens to come across the fabled rock formation that tells the prophecy of the Sakaarson. However, the scene ends with the discovery that the Hulk isn’t as alone as he thinks he is.
Back at An-Sara, the Warbound Gladiators sleep within their quarters. Meanwhile, Miek wakes up and decides to investigate the familiar noise that he heard earlier. Heading to a different part of the complex, he discovers similar beings inside of a cell. Miek is informed that his own race was calling out to him and learns that he & his fellow warriors are in danger.
Over in the armory, we soon find out why as Governor Churik has become a traitor to the Warbound Gladiators. He contacts the Red King and informs that he has the rebel warriors, minus the Hulk. Afterwards, Churik is ordered to immediately kill them. Fortunately, Miek overheard the conversation and confronts the corrupt constable. From there, they proceed to fight as the small bug is agile enough to keep the villainous governor at bay. However, Churik strikes a devastating blow as he pulls out a hidden dagger and slices off one of Miek’s arms.
As the small warrior cringes in pain, the corrupt constable prepares to deliver the killing blow. Fortunately, Miek manages to fend off the attack as he uses a free arm to grab a nearby dagger and deliver a fatal stab as Churik collapes from the wound and dies.
Back at the rock formation, the Hulk is confronted by Caiera who tells him that he should have went with the escape party. After he says that he’s going after the Red King, she proceeds to challenge him to a “fair & even combat”. Since the Hulk doesn’t have a weapon, Caiera discards her double-bladed staff as the two of them proceed to tussle. During the fight, she delivers a punch so fierce that it shatters the Hulk’s armor and causes him to bleed. Fortunately, he withstood the attack and strikes back at her, allowing himself to heal his wound.
Over at An-Sara, Miek makes it back to his fellow Warbound Gladiators and tells them about what just happened. Elloe isn’t willing to accept that a friend of her father would give them up to the Red King, but Hiroim believes the tale due to Miek’s severed limb. With the Red King learning about their location, the scene ends with them preparing to head out.
Back at the rock formation, Hulk and Caiera continue their fight. Just then, she notices a familiar craft flying across the skies. She tries to warn him about what’s coming, but the scene ends with Hulk focused too much on fighting to hear her out.
Over at An-Sara, the citizens see the craft plummet into the nearby cliff. Afterwards, it proceeds to unleash a barrage of Spikes as they begin to infect the townspeople and turn them into mindless monsters. The Warbound Gladiators have started to exit a building when they see the vicious terror that’s raining down from the sky.
Back at the rock formation, Caiera tries to tell the Hulk to stop their fighting and to help her defeat the Spikes. She even tries convincing him to help out his friends, but the Hulk only cares about his current brawl and also claims that he doesn’t “have any friends”. As such, Caiera tosses him to the ground, grabs her weapon and hops onto her personal hovercraft. The scene ends with her telling the Hulk that he’s not an honorable man, but the monster that the Red King sees him for as she takes her leave.
Back at An-Sara, the Warbound Gladiators proceed to slay any and all infected citizens. Fortunately, there were some individuals that managed to evade the Spikes’ wrath as our heroes escort them to safety.
Meanwhile, Caiera arrives and proceeds to decimate the monstrous beings. Just then, she sees a little girl who has climbed onto the roof. However, she’s being pursued by her mother who’s infected. Reminding her of how she lost her younger brother, Caiera proceeds to leap onto the roof and slice up the monstrous mamma.
Over at the rock formation, the Hulk is able to hear the terrible screams from afar. Just then, he notices a familiar item at his feet: the Eye of the Eggbreaker. The scene ends with him picking it up and looking at it, possibly also remembering what Miek said about the item.
Back at An-Sara, Caiera takes the child into her arms and proceeds to hop towards the ground. She manages to see the cave that the Warbound Gladiators are using to shelter the non-infected citizens. As our heroes huddle together and guard the entrance, they stand ready to face the overwhelming number of remaining monsters.
Just then, the Hulk leaps in and begins to pound away at their foes. However, the infected citizens start to use their tongues and slap Spikes onto his body. He still manages to fight on, despite the foreign disease’s continually growing effort.
As Caiera makes her way towards the cave, she receives a holographic message from the Red King as she demands for some help against the Spikes. However, she learns that he was the one who unleashed the alien parasites onto An-Sara. Not only that, but he also used the Spikes to kill off Caiera’s family when she was young. He explains that he “needed an Oldstrong” to serve him and the Spikes were the quickest way for him to acquire one. Now that the Hulk and his friends were all in one place, he now has a way to wipe them out in one fall swoop. Fortunately, the Warbound Gladiators see the approaching danger as the Hulk yells at them to get inside the cave. Once his friends make it in, he lifts a giant rock slab to seal the entrance for their protection. Meanwhile, Caiera cradles the young girl in her arms in anticipation for disaster. From there, the Red King’s flying warcraft drops a Death Fire Bomb onto An-Sara, resulting in a massive explosion that wipes out the infected individuals.
Thanks to her Oldstrong ability, Caiera was able to survive the blast. However, the young girl in her arms wasn’t as fortunate as she withers into smoldering ash. With the weight of recent events finally taking its toll, she proceeds to yell out towards the night sky in agony.
While the Death’s Head guards arrive and use their flamethrowers to exterminate the remaining Spikes, Caiera checks out the Hulk’s unconscious body. Just then, the Red King contacts her and asks if his foe has fallen. After she confirms with him, he orders her to bring his lifeless body back to him so that it can be “paraded through the streets”. Caiera also informs him that Hulk managed to save the Warbound Gladiators from harm, but the Red King orders her to capture them so that they can be brought to his palace for proper executions.
Sometime later, Caiera and the palace guards march through Crown City with the Warbound Gladiators imprisoned in chains while the Hulk’s lifeless body is mostly covered on a hovering platform. Once inside the castle, they’re confronted by the Red King who’s dressed up in his battle armor. Afterwards, he broadcasts the upcoming execution to his people and reveals to them that the Hulk has died.
However, the Red King gets the surprise of his life as the Hulk wakes up and confronts him. From there, they both proceed to engage each other in final battle. Having been betrayed by her master throughout her life, Caiera releases the Warbound Gladiators from their bonds and joins them in their fight against the guards.
During the fight, the Hulk manages to slowly, but surely take away the Red King’s arsenal. First, the armored tyrant tries to use his sword, but the Hulk manages to catch the strike in his hands. Even when the Red King activates the blade’s shocking mechanism, our Jolly Green Giant snaps the weapon and uses it to damage the battle armor. Then, the diabolical ruler fires a barrage of missiles followed by his built-in flamethrower. Fortunately, the Hulk withstood the blasts and follows up with a powerful thunderclap, as the resulting shockwave decimates the flamethrower.
From there, the Hulk starts to tear the battle armor apart as he rips the plating off of the Red King’s left arm. With him losing control of this fight, the tyrant orders for his Death’s Head Guards to help him out.
From there, the Red King unleashes his final strike. However, it’s all for naught as the Hulk seizes his opportunity & destroys the tyrant’s right mechanical arm before he slams the fallen tyrant to the ground and utterly demolishes the remains of the battle armor. From there, the Red King pleades to not be killed. However, the Hulk says that someone else will earn “that pleasure”.
After being thrown to the ground, the Red King is confronted by Caiera and the Warbound Gladiators who have just defeated his guards. However, it’s not by her double-bladed staff that she chooses to carry out her judgment. Instead, it’s a live Spike. After she drops in onto the Red King’s hand, it proceeds to burrow inside the fallen tyrant and begins to infect him.
He then runs out into the hallway before lurching over in pain as his Death’s Head Guards finally arrive. He tries ordering his robotic armada to kill Hulk and his friends, but they’re unable to comply since they see their master becoming infected. As such, they carry out what they were always programmed to do: incinerate whoever is tainted by a Spike. From there, they proceed to use their flamethrowers and burn the Red King to death.
Sometime later, a new day has dawned on Sakaar as Hulk and Caiera have become the new rulers of the planet. Hulk is skeptical of being the planet’s beacon of hope since before his recent venture, he’s never been seen as “anything but a monster”. Caiera tells him that those from his previous world have never fully understood him. After the Hulk states that all he’s ever known was to go from one fight to the next, Caiera says that she’s more than willing to take the journey with him.
As such, they decide to greet their people together. With the Shadow Priests and the honored Warbound Gladiators as their newest allies, Hulk and Caiera head out onto the royal balcony where they’re greeted with thunderous applause.
Many alien races are united as one with the prophecy promising a brighter tomorrow for Sakaar, especially with the Crown City Coliseum covered in foliage and plants. And so, the film closes out with Hiroim narrating how the Hulk was forsaken on Earth due to his power, but is praised on Sakaar for using his boundless strength to smite the planet’s reigning evil, bring the various kingdoms together and bring back some plant life to the world, especially with the hope of everlasting peace being made possible, thanks to the Hulk.
Because I have a trade paperback that collects the entire storyline from the original source material, let’s see what differences can be found in adaptation. First up, we have Hiroim the Shamed. Starting with this fighter, the characters’ backstories have more to them than what was presented in the film. In the film, we know that he used to be a part of the Shadow Priests, but didn’t believe that the Red King was the true Sakaarson. He would then go on to have his priesthood stripped and ended up as a salve. In issue #100 from the main story, we find out that he was born in a Saka Temple and became a priest as he got older. After hearing about the legendary Sakaarson and even dreaming that he could gain that title, he made himself as noble as he could in the time leading up to his priesthood. He passed his tests with flying colors, but the master priest looked into his eyes and didn’t see the Sakaarson in him. After shoving him to the ground, Hiroim ended up with his title “The Shamed”. Anyway, let’s dig into the film version. When we first meet him alongside the rest of the imprisoned gladiators, we learn from Lavin Skee that he fought in the Spike Wars. He’s efficient in weapons combat and is very agile as well. He initially doubts that the Hulk could possibly be the Sakaarson, but starts to change his tune when he sees some green blood helping a plant to grow. After they escape and prepare to hid out in An-Sara, the Hulk’s refusal to stay with the Warbound makes Hiroim cast some doubt on the prophecy. Not much else is done with his character afterwards since he’s with his fellow gladiators and to the end, becoming one of the honored selective at the end alongside his friends. Liam O’Brien does a fairly nice job with the role, giving a honored and controlled tone with his performance.
Next in line, we turn to Miek. We don’t get an opportunity to get much of a backstory for this little guy in the film, since he only goes as far as his laval birth before Elloe stops him since it’s not his turn in the Warbound ritual. From the source material (issue #96 to be exact), we learn that he was born in an unapproved reproduction period (unapproved for the unruly kingdom, that is). After Miek’s father is told to vacate the land that was previously given to him via royal decree, he ends up getting killed by Lt. Charr. As such, Miek is captured and sold off into slavery. In that same issue, Charr is no longer associated with the Red King and lives among his pink-skinned people. However, Miek still had a past grudge since his father was slayed. They would fight and it was during that confrontation that Miek loses his lower left arm after an opposing spear stabbed it hard enough to sever it. He would recover and hold Charr at spear-point, but initially doesn’t go through with it since several of his own kind appear and join our group. During our heroes’ fight against the Death’s Head guards and several of the Red King’s soldiers in issue #97, Miek would ultimately impale Charr with a spear. He would even undergo a metamorphosis and take on a humanoid-like beetle shape. In issue #99, Miek and his people would discover their queen who’s imprisoned by the pink-skinned citizens and forced to constantly lay eggs. Shortly after her rescue however, she would get immediately infected by the Spikes. It would take until the next issue (#100) for the infection to take its toll as Miek is forced to give his dying queen a mercy kill via flamethrower. He also has an ability that never gets used in the film called “Chemming”. It allows him to send visions into his friends in order to mentally show them something from his memory. For the film, he has a basic character arc where he starts off as something of a coward. Through the bonding with the Warbound, he becomes more confident. By the end, he’s not the greatest of fighters. However, he does become skilled enough to hold his own, especially when Governor Churik was willing to sell him and his friends out to the Red King. Sam Vincent does a generally good job here, since the tones in his voice seem like they go through a character arc like Miek does. He’s kind and sincere throughout, but his performance nails the transition from nervous to self-assured by the end of the film.
Next up, we focus on Korg. He’s the only Warbound Gladiator whose backstory actually went from page to screen. Presented in issue #94 with silver age-style artwork, he and his brothers went to Earth and captured Thor. However, the Asgardian Thunder God broke out of his imprisonment. The difference though is that he took down the Warbot, unlike the film where he needed Beta Ray Bill to help him out (someone whom I’ll get to eventually). In the source material (issue #93 to start), we first meet Korg alongside Elloe, Lavin and several other pink-skinned slaves as they’re forced to fight Hulk, Miek and several bug-sized slaves for the right to fight for their freedom before its interrupted by the arrival of the imprisoned Brood. Like in the film, Korg is forced to fight his brethren in gladiatorial combat. The difference is that he’s thrown around by the Hulk and slams right into them, shattering his brothers upon impact. From there, not much else happens with this character. He does demonstrate in issue #100 that his genetic make-up lets him resist lava, but that’s about it. In the film, he’s a durable being who helps out his fellow Warbound Gladiators. His biggest moment came when he was forced to kill his brethren after they had slain Lavin. Other than that, there’s not much else in terms of solo stand-out for him. Kevin Michael Richardson is nice in the role, giving Korg a rugged, massive and solid delivery in his voice.
Last up in our main group of Warbound Gladiators, we have Elloe. When we first learn about her in the source material, she says that she doesn’t have much combat training. Following a fight against the Wildebots and the Eggbreaker, the Warbound are given a celebratory feast when Lavin is lured away by a group of young women. To close out issue #93 and open #94, a rebel group caled the Sakaar Democratic Insurgency busts in to oppose the Red King’s guards. Like in the failed escape scene, Elloe is the only one who joins their group and is ultimately captured. Also like in the film, we don’t see her again until after Hulk helps the Warbound win their final match and are ordered to execute her in order to gain their freedom. After their obedience disks are destroyed and they make their escape, she ultimately gets our heroes to An-Sara (also similar to the film) and gets some battle time to show herself off before the Red King arrives and she’s forced to regroup with her fellow warriors in order to fight back. Following the Red King’s death, the recovery begins for all in issue #103 as she discovers her mother working for the remainder of Red King’s supporters, which caused Elloe to clash with Miek. However, a tragic explosion (which I’ll get to soon) ended up claiming several lives, including her mother. In the film, she keeps two traits from her comic book counterpart: She fights for her deceased father (Ronan Kaifi) and she once considered the Hulk (in a brief moment) to be dumb/stupid. Outside of that, a difference that I found was that there’s no mention of her being inexperienced in weapons combat. Also, there’s not much else that’s different or stands out too much about her. Advah Soudack is fairly good with her role, delivering her tones with somewhat of a royal delivery, in addition to her ranging from calm & caring to argumentative and semi-commanding.
Quickly, we’ll talk about Lavin Skee. In the source material, we learn that he used to be on the Imperial Guard as a captain. Unlike the film where he doesn’t live through the inaugural battle with getting killed by Korg’s former brethren in the coliseum, he makes it through that particular fight (which took place in a slave pit called the Maw) and helps his comrades defeat the Wildebots & the Eggbreaker. At the celebratory feast, he’s lured away by a group of young women while the aforementioned Sakaar Democratic Insurgency incident comes along and Elloe is captured in the process. He arrives back to hear the bad news and blames himself for not being alongside her. Sometime afterwards, he’s alongside our heroes for their first fight in the Crown City Coliseum. However, the Red King decides to drop a Death Fire Bomb from his main warship, the Imperial Dreadnought, right in the middle of the coliseum. The Hulk valiantly took the majority of the impact, but Lavin was fatally hurt during the blast. As the Death’s Head guards show up to attack our heroes, Lavin informs his group of their main weakness: striking the joints. After the battle, he dies as our heroes proceed with the Warbound ritual. In the film, he’s only present for no more than five minutes before he winds up dead. However, his death unites our heroes as warriors. Michael Kopsa does OK with what he’s given. His performance displays him as a field leader, but the shortened appearance doesn’t leave much for him to do.
Also, let’s briefly get to Android. Known in the source material as Arch-E-5912, he survives the entirety of the original storyline, unlike the film where we’re introduced to him alongside our fellow heroes, survives the fight against Korg’s former brethren and is then immediately destroyed by the Great Devil Corker. He’s first seen briefly in issue #93 over in the Maw where the Hulk saves him from a lava monster. After the escape, he has another brief appearance in issue #96 where he tells about the Hulk saving him over a campfire. After briefly informing our heroes of the Shadow Priests in issue #101, he gets ordered by King Hulk in #104 to chat with the Wildebots over in the Twisted Wood. In issue #105, he has his conversation to tell the opposing group that his master calls for a peace treaty with them. Just then, the Wildebots have him oversee a catastrophe (which I’ll explain real soon). Overall, not much happens with our robotic ally in the original story. Doing something else with him in order to make him more important to the narrative would have been nice, but it ended up as a missed opportunity. Lee Tockar is decent with what he has been given, but there’s hardly anything going for his character.
Moving on in our character analysis, we head over to Caiera the Oldstrong. In the source material, we find out that her backstory is slightly different then what was presented on screen. In issue #98, we learn that she was a blossoming warrior at 13 years old and possessed the “Old Shadow Strength” (possibly “Oldstrong”). Like the film, her life forever changed when the Spikes attacked her village and began to infect everyone around her. Unlike the film however, she only mentions her father as she was forced to slay him. When the Red Prince and his Death’s Head Guards confronted her, they didn’t simply accept her by his side. She was captured and made into his slave, obedience disk and all. As for Caiera’s presentation through the original story, she starts off in issue #92 as her loyal servant. Instead of a massive shove when the Hulk initially tried to attack the Red King, she fired an energy gun and shot our Jolly Green Giant back onto the coliseum floor. Like in the film, she fights the Hulk for a short while after our main hero delivers a cut onto the Red King’s face. In issue #94, she offers to help the Hulk escape to the Steppes, but has her offer turned down. Following the Warbound’s victory over the Silver Surfer in issue #95, she’s the one who meets our heroes (alongside Primus Vand and a group of Death’s Head Guards) and orders them to slay Elloe in order to earn their freedom. After Hulk and the Warbound Gladiators escape into the Twisted Wood, she leads an army of royal guards to hunt them down over in issue #96. In issue #97, she starts to doubt her loyalty to the Red King when he casually incinerates any rebel citizen who opposes his rule over in Crown City. This forced Caiera to step in and slam the ground with enough force to halt the insurgence. She finally catches up to the Hulk in issue #98 where she tells him her backstory. Afterwards, she explains that if she kills our hero, then maybe she’ll prevent millions of innocent civilians from the Red King’s wrath. So, they proceed to fight and just like the film, it eventually gets interrupted when the Spikes are sent in. In issue #99, she’s initially going to help the Hulk dealing with some of the infected citizens. However, he states that they’ll resume their fight afterwards. After Caiera stabs him in the foot, the Hulk smacks her away as she leaves him to deal with the situation himself. Afterwards, she warns the citizens of An-Sara about the Spikes and asks the Red King to help her deal with them. From there, she helps the village attack the oncoming Spike invasion after the Red King uses his Death Fire bombs to trap An-Sara with the incoming spores. Like in the film, she finds a parent-less child and learns from the Red King that he was the one who unleashed the Spikes right before she gets caught within the explosion of a Death Fire Bomb. Thanks to her Oldstrong ability, she withstood the blast, but the child in her arms didn’t. From there, she joins the Hulk and the Warbound Gladiators’ mission to take down the Red King. After our heroes take care of the Spike-infected menace in issue #100 and the Imperial Dreadnought warships in #101, the Red King is finally slained in the next issue. Over in issue #103, Caiera and the Hulk begin Sakaar’s rebuilding by becoming the respective queen and king. They also become a couple and sleep together, where she reveals in #104 that she’s pregnant. Unfortunately, any hope for a happy life is wiped out when the same spaceship that brought the Hulk to Sakaar explodes at the end of the issue (exact detail will be explained when we reach our Jolly Green Giant). In the final part (issue #105), her Oldstrong ability is unable to withstand this blast and she dies. For the film version, it’s mainly faithful to the source material with a minor alteration or two. Overall, she’s a strong warrior who initially believes that she’s doing the right thing by fighting for the Red King. However, his cruel deception leads her to join the Warbound and enact righteous vengeance upon him. Lisa Ann Beley is strong in her role, giving lots of command, care and presence with her line delivery.
Next up, we reach our main villain: Angmo II a.k.a. the Red King. When we first meet him in the source material, he’s arrogantly comfortable with his grand position. Only after his initial fight against the Hulk where he suffers a cut on his face does his start to take his opposition seriously. He tries to make his might felt by ordering a pair of Death Fire bombs to get dropped onto our heroes and have his team of Death’s Head Guards finish the job, but all it did was slay Lavin Skee. After Hulk and the Warbound Gladiators escape, he sends Caiera and his guards after them while he casually and ruthlessly kills anyone who supports the “Green Scar”. Eventually, he gives the order to unleash the Spikes onto his citizens while the Hulk and Caiera have their fight. After our heroes make it to An-Sara, the Red King has his Death Fire bombs surrounding the city and the Spike-infested folks within its fiery prison. After prepping for final combat and finally catching up to our heroes in issue #101, the next issue has his final slugfest against the Hulk. After a fierce fight, our Jolly Green Giant punches the Red King out of An-Sara and into the open field where he’s killed by a Wildebot. The film version mainly follows the same beats with a few exceptions. He takes Caiera to his side as the Red Prince, he has a supposed friend of Elloe’s father as his inside traitor at An-Sara and Caiera ultimately defeats him by infecting him with a spike only for him to the victim of poetic justice by ending up as a roasted corpse by his Death’s Head Guards. To think, the parasites that he used to help control his empire ultimately do him in. Mark Hildreth has the right amount of command in his tone to make his role work, which helps him range from over-confident and cool to a raging delivery.
Finally, we wrap up the character analysis with our favorite green Goliath himself: Hulk. Over in the Planet Hulk Prelude, we see the seeds for his exile from Earth get planted. In Fantastic Four #533-535, the Hulk was brought in to deactivate a Gamma Bomb planted by Hydra in a cave several miles northeast of Las Vegas. However, it ended up exploding, turned his skin tone gray and made him enraged. The Human Torch and the Thing went out to care of the situation (since Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman had a situation of their own to worry about, which I won’t discuss here), only for the three of them to end up brawling their way to Vegas and cause some destruction to Sin City. Ultimately, the fight ended when the Human Torch went Nova and encased the Hulk in a massive blaze of fire. Afterwards, he retreats towards the isolated nature of Northwest Alaska, which is where Incredible Hulk #88-91 comes into play. After an incident where Bruce becomes the Hulk in order to prevent two sleazeball men from taking advantage of a drunken woman named Katie, Nick Fury contacts him in order to take care of a Hydra Space Station. When the Hulk reaches his destination within Earth’s orbit, he finds out that it was actually S.H.I.E.L.D.’s own weapon called “God’s Eye”. Not only that, but it was sentient as it takes him inside. After becoming Bruce Banner, he meets a mechanical being that assimilates its gamma radiated make-up. From there, he becomes the Hulk as the two tussle before the robotized menace is defeated by being overloaded with gamma radiation and explodes. After the Hulk gets back on the spaceship, he thinks that he’s going back to Earth but is ultimately sent into space and ultimately towards Sakaar. In the main source material, there’s some noticable differences from the film. He meets his fellow warriors in a slave pit called the Maw instead of on a transport vehicle & was one of seven individuals who ended up being given the right to fight for their freedom, he and his group fight the Death’s Head Guards & experience the Death Fire Bomb early on instead of later, he’s tangled with the prophecy of him being both the planet’s savior (Sakaarson) & being involved in its destruction (Worldbreaker, though the latter is just mentioned once in the film) and he manages to recover the spaceship that brought him to Sakaar (even though the Red King’s men got to it first). After the Red King is slayed, he and Caiera become king and queen in order to help Sakaar properly rebuild itself. Not only that, but they even sleep together, resulting in her becoming pregnant. However, his new and wonderful life is brought to an end when his spaceship (which is being used as an honorary statue) has its warp corp compromised. Hulk tries to throw it away, but it explodes and claims the life of Caiera. Not only that, the massive blast cracked Sakaar’s tectonic plates and ultimately dooms the planet. With his new life gone, he gathers his Warbound Gladiators and prepares to head off for Earth, which leads into the storyline called “World War Hulk”. With the film version, he starts off with the worst luck ever. He’s shunned by his original homeworld and ends up imprisoned the moment he arrives on another planet. He struggles with accepting a group of people around him since he already went through the biggest form of distrust that got him exiled from Earth. Through his experiences with them and Caiera, he grows more confident as his teamwork ultimately pays off when he manages to reach the Red King and beat him up. The film’s ending has the feeling of a positive resolution, since the Hulk had been through so much hate and violence in his life. Now, he’s in a situation where the masses love him, he has comrades who have his back and he even has a female companion with whom he can be with. Rick D. Wasserman is a nice change of pace for this character. After the constant roars of Fred Tatasciore’s Hulk with the past two entries, it’s a breath of fresh air to have our Jolly Green Giant have speaking skills. Plus, he has a nice range to boot.
In terms of differences with the original story, that’s all on how it’s structured in comparison to the animated adaptation. Only issues #92-95 sees Hulk and the Warbound Gladiators clashing in the coliseum. Once they escape following the fight with Silver Surfer, they go on the run throughout Sakaar and they end up with more people in their group (mainly a large amount of Miek’s people). After a while, our heroes have their big victory against the Red King. However, the film ends with Hulk and Caiera becoming Sakaar’s new monarch with promises of a better tomorrow. In the source material, the final three issues has our heroes trying to rebuild the planet towards a brighter future. However, Hulk’s spaceship destroys any hope when it explodes, claims Caiera and ruptures the planet. There was also a completely different member among them early on (which we’ll get to in a bit), but was omitted from this film. There’s possibly some other notable differences (like Hulk never becoming his human persona, Bruce Banner, at any point in the film), but that and everything that I mentioned with the characters were the ones that I could find.
One major difference is whom Hulk and the Warbound Gladiators had to face in their final gladiatorial match. In the original source material, it was the Silver Surfer. In issue #95, we learn that prior to becoming Galactus’ herald, he lived on a utopian planet for so long that he longed to know what it’s like to “struggle” and “strive”. Sometime prior to the story, Silver Surfer was gliding through the cosmos when he came across the “Great Portal” and willingly went through. Even he wasn’t resistant to the wormhole’s energy-draining power as he wakes up imprisoned on Sakaar and unintentionally got his previous wish. However, Silver Surfer was left out of this film due to “copyright restraints” between Marvel and Fox Studios. Makes sense since the character appeared in “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” three years prior, which was distributed by 20th Century Fox. So, he gets replaced with a similarly-powered figure in Beta Ray Bill. For the most part, Beta is able to fill Silver Surfer’s role and he plays out his final battle practically note-for-note. With him being added to this story, there were also two minor differences. First, he appears in Korg’s backstory and helps Thor defeat the Warbot. Him chasing after Korg is how he ended up on Sakaar. The other difference is that Beta uses his hammer (Stormbreaker) to smash part of the coliseum in order to create an exit for the Red King’s prisoners. In the source material, it was Korg who punched an opening for our heroes. In the end though, that’s neither here-nor-there. Paul Dobson does a good job in projecting his voice for his performance, since it helps in making his character with his otherworldly make-up.
Believe it or not, there was another member of the Warbound that was left out: the Brood. A nameless alien who calls herself No-Name, she first appears in issue #93 during the scuffle in the Maw. She ends up as one of the seven surviving fighters who’s allowed to fight for their freedom. After several fights, we get her backstory in issue #94. She and her sisters were a group of Broods called Warriors-Prime. However, they tried to attack an monstrous creature that invaded their world and ended up getting swallowed whole. Fortunately, a cave soul (read Incredible Hulk #94 to see what I mean) ended up turning the vile beast into crystal. However, it also destroyed the homeworld as No-Name and her sisters floated within the crystallized being and ultimately ended up on Sakaar. After the fight against Silver Surfer and making her escape alongside the Warbound Gladiators, she forms a partnership with Miek. By issue #103, they officially become lovers. In the end, the two of them join Hulk and the Warbound on their quest to Earth following Sakaar’s accidental destruction. I couldn’t find any information as to why she was omitted from the film, but it would have been interesting to see how see would have been used for this treatment.
Finally, the Spikes, which served as the Red King’s main infection weapon, actually gets a sympathetic backstory. In issue #102 (four issues after the Red King unleashed them towards our heroes), our heroes learn from the Spikes’ father (after meeting him an issue ago) that these beings actually eat cosmic energies from dying stars. After several generations have passed, they migrate across the galaxies in order to continue their feasting. As they were passing over Sakaar however, their spaceships ended up crashing onto the planet. Starving, they began their infamous reputation of feeding off of the globe’s civilians. After the Red King’s Death Head guards bested them (an event that was referenced in the film during Hiroim’s backstory), they were placed onto their spaceships and sent away. However, their crafts ended up landing on Sakaar’s moon where they remained imprisoned and were forced to eat each other. From there, the Red King brought them back to use as his own “living weapon”. After the tyrannical emperor met his comeuppance, the Spikes had to feed off of the Hulk from the end of issue #102 to the beginning of #103. In issue #104, they finally got their happy ending as the main group of Spikes got off Sakaar and picked up their brothers from the broken moon as they finally left for their home. It’s amazing how these parasites became sympathetic in the source material. Because of the limited run-time of the film, this detail ended up getting cut. I don’t know how it would have fit into the movie if a way was found, but it’s a fascinating omition indeed.
The action is very engaging, since it shows off the roughness of gladiatorial combat. It’s boosted by fluent animation that never shows any hiccups at all and helps this alien world become believable to the audience. The cast of characters is just the right size, allowing the principle heroes and villain to have enough things to do and become relevant to the narrative. Speaking of which, the story feels like a breath of fresh air. Taking the Hulk off of Earth (and even from Asgard) gave the character a change of pace and it gives him a break from the whole “villain pursues Hulk to obtain power” plot that’s been used a lot (from the MCU’s “The Incredible Hulk” to even both stories in “Hulk Vs.”). Plus, having our main character bleed and be vulnerable to his alien surroundings helps in making the audience care for him and makes us want to see him overcome this rarely-seen obstacle. Plus, the rest of the cast have enough character and personality to be engaging in their own right. Either way, it’s an entertainingly good time for all.
Oh, but less we forget about who decided to ship the Hulk into outer space: The Illuminati. I already mentioned in the Hulk’s character analysis that it was a mission by Nick Fury that got the Hulk into space before he was suckered into being sent out towards the empty vastness. This group first appeared in New Avengers #7 back in 2005, having been ret-conned into having been formed following the events of a 1971-72 storyline called “The Kree-Skrull War”. Essentially, it was a group of superheroes who each represented different aspects of the main Marvel universe meeting in secret to share vital information with each other in order to prevent major disasters from happening. Hidden within the shadows are Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four and Black Blot of the Inhumans (both of whom have non-speaking roles). In addition, Doctor Strange is also among them (also with a non-speaking role) while Iron Man is front-and-center to explain the reasoning behind their actions to the Hulk. It was a nice touch that Marc Worden was called in to reprise a role that he performed in both “Ultimate Avengers” films and “The Invincible Iron Man” for one last time in this series, even though it’s just for the opening scene.
Finally, the film has some neat cameos for Marvel fans during the coliseum scenes. Some are familiar enough to the casual viewer, while others are recognizable to the hardcore fan. Either way, they’re another nice touch.
Overall, this film is a nice romp. The story is engaging, the characters are likable enough, the animation is crisp and it’s an exciting ride from beginning to end. With a Hulk tale being a fresh departure from the numerous yarns about him being hunted down in order for his power to be used for their own means, I consider this to be one of the better entries from this series. If you ever get the chance, check this film out. You won’t be disappointed.
Next Time: The Marvel Animated Features has reached its own Ragarok, but a familiar hero of the Nine Realms will come into his own during an artifact quest. A mythical yarn from the Norse Gods will help to cap off the series in “Thor: Tales Of Asgard”.
Hulk (created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby) is owned by Marvel Comics.