Planet Hulk and the future of Marvel Animation

Marvel has hit quite a few homeruns with their direct-to-DVD animated movies over the past few years. Starting with the Ultimate Avengers films, through Iron Man, and Hulk Vs., it seems like Marvel keeps upping the ante with each consecutive movie. Their latest outing is Planet Hulk, an animated interpretation of the comic storyline of the same name.

I started this post with the intention of giving a review of the movie, but, as I wrote, I found myself at a loss for words. This isn’t because I have no opinion on the film. Anyone who knows me knows that I have an opinion on most everything. And while I did enjoy Planet Hulk, I don’t feel it’s as good as some of the previous Marvel animation movies.

Anyway, I found myself being pulled more toward writing about how I am tired of the Hulk. I know that he is one of Marvel’s more popular characters, but it seems he has been the focus of most of their latest animated movies. He was in the first Ultimate Avengers movie. He made a major appearance in Next Avengers. Hulk Vs pretty much speaks for itself.

Now, I’ll admit, I’m not a fan of the Hulk. I’ve read a bunch of the comics. I’ve seen the movies. I know the origin. But he’s just not a character I can get behind. (Although, the Planet Hulk movie did get me interested in the comic, so I will check that out some time in the future.)

Marvel has so many characters at their disposal, but they keep choosing to showcase the Hulk. I can understand why, but I want something different. I would love to see some X-Men or Spider-Man stories, but Marvel probably won’t do something like that. Spidey and the X-Men both manage to be successful with half-hour cartoon series’ so there is no point to showcase them in animated films. Hulk and the Avengers, on the other hand, have been proven to be less successful in the Saturday Morning venue.

There are likely legal reasons why Marvel won’t make animated movies based on Spider-Man or the X-Men. While I am not 100% sure of this, nor am I knowledgeable of things such as movies rights, I feel this is a major factor in the issue. (I would love an X-Babies movie. Please, please, please that would be so awesome.)

But, Marvel has an entire library of characters to choose from. Why not do something a little different? They took a chance by giving Dr. Strange his own full-length film. Yes, Dr. Strange is one of Marvel’s oldest characters, and while he does have a decent fan base, he isn’t very popular. So why not take a chance on another character?

Moon Knight certainly deserves his own movie. He has a rich background and is a very interesting character, and the recent revival by Charlie Huston gave him an edge and showed how marketable he can be. Though the new Moon Knight is extremely violent, it wouldn’t be anything that Marvel couldn’t pull off. Between Planet Hulk and Hulk Vs, I think Marvel would be willing to tackle some of that violence. Most people think of Moon Knight as a Batman knock-off, but perhaps a film can prove them wrong. By delving into the issue of multiple personalities and how it affects his relationships, Moon Knight can have a depth that Batman never had.

Another adaptation I want is Cloak and Dagger. I know I’m definitely in the minority here, but Cloak and Dagger are two of my favorite Marvel characters for reasons I can’t explain. Though their history has been little more than a PSA for drug awareness, Cloak and Dagger have an intensity that hasn’t been fully evolved yet. Their main goal is to fight back at the people who hurt them, the people who gave them their powers through the experimental drugs. They don’t ask for help from anyone and would rather become fugitives than team players. Though they treat each other as siblings, there’s a weird sexual tension to their relationship. Cloak and Dagger have starred in some shitty stories in the past, like when a police officer becomes a ghost and helps them take down a drug cartel. But, given the right writer, there could be some substance to the characters, not only in a film but also the comics. If Marvel were to make a movie, and make it good, they could revitalize their property in the comics, and open the characters to a new audience.

I want to see Marvel take a few chances. Yes, they won’t do anything if there isn’t the possibility of profit. But, let’s be honest; they took a chance with Next Avengers. They introduced a bunch of new characters with only Iron Man and the Hulk to tie them together. While it didn’t do as well as their other movies, the DVD grossed over $3 million in sales, which isn’t bad for a completely new idea. (Meanwhile, Dr. Strange, a character almost as old as Spider-Man, grossed $3.8 million.) Would it make sense for Marvel to try something different rather than dredge up the same old characters time and again? I certainly think so. Not everyone will be interested in the Hulk. Or Thor. Or even the Avengers. While these movies are made for the fans, there is also the opportunity to convert a non-fan or two. Why wouldn’t they take that chance?

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