The Illuminati (a group consisting of Tony Stark, Reed Richards, Black Bolt, Namor, and Dr. Stephen Strange only – Charles Xavier was absent) meet to discuss the recent destruction of Hulk and how to deal with him. The decision to deposit Hulk on a peaceful uninhabited planet is interrupted by a wormhole, placing the savage Hulk on the violent planet Sakaar.
The green skinned warrior quickly bonds with others like him in a gladiator arena, as well as creates an enemy of Red King. Through his conflicts and troubles Hulk unites a planet by killing the tyrant king, while finding a kindred spirit and falls in love with the warrior Caiera. Hulk, the savior of the people, is crowned king with Caiera as his queen. The peace does not last for the green goliath however, but instead leads to the destruction of Sakaar and the terribly destructive World War Hulk.
Prelude to Planet Hulk
After Hulk's rampage where most of Las Vegas was destroyed, Hulk has exiled himself into the northern wilderness in an attempt to keep himself from harming other living beings. Banner is approached by Nick Fury for a mission that will have Hulk go into space to destroy a rogue, sentient Hydra satellite with the capability of detonating every nuke on earth. Banner agrees, and as Hulk is sent into space to deal with the satellite. There, Hulk finds a dead crew and the computer takes on humanoid form. This machine appears to be able to match Hulk's strength, but Hulk is able to get the better of it and destroy it. Hulk is infuriated when he discovers that Fury lied to him about the satellite which is actually one of SHIELD's own. A message begins playing of the members of the Illuminati telling Hulk that he has been tricked, and is being exiled to an uninhabited far-off planet where he cannot hurt anyone and can finally live in peace. The ship was sucked into a portal and deposited Hulk on the violent planet Sakaar. Traveling through the wormhole has weakened Hulk, leaving his strength depleted and with the ability to sustain injury. Unable to resist Hulk is captured almost immediately upon arrival, and is forced to become a gladiator in the great arena for the viewing pleasure of the evil Red King of Sakaar.
Hulk is forced to battle the Silver Surfer (dubbed "The Silver Savage") in the gladiatorial arena. The Surfer had also been weakened when he was drawn through the wormhole that brought Hulk to Sakaar. Hulk recognized the Surfer, and rather than fight him for the Red King's amusement, Hulk smashed the control unit that kept the Surfer in check, allowing him to flee Sakaar and make his way to the events of the Annihilation. As a gladiator in the arena, Hulk quickly makes an enemy of the Red King. After watching Hulk win several battles the Red King dons his battle suit to fight the Hulk. Not to be underestimated Hulk draws blood from the Red Kings face, an act which was until then unprecedented. As a means to save face the Red King makes a deal with Hulk, offering to allow the Hulk to go free as long as he is able to pass a certain number of trials. The motive for this apparent display of leniency is to make it appear so that Hulk has a fighting chance of his freedom, but to be able to kill him anyway. It is during these trials that Hulk would meet and forge a warbond with several allies on Sakaar: Korg the Kronan, Miek the insect, the No-name Broodspawn, Hiroim the Shamed shadow priest, and Elloe. These allies would become a force that could not be broken, no matter what trials the Red King threw their way. The more the Hulk was able to overcome, the more the people of Sakaar grew to support him. A growing number of the people of Sakaar also believed Hulk to be their fabled savior, the Sakaarson, after a plant was discovered to have sprung to life in the arena from where Hulk's blood touched the soil.
Hulk and his Warbound allies eventually escaped the Red King's control and made their way into the wilderness. Enraged, the Red King is growing more and more impatient with the Hulk and tries even harder to kill him, first sending his armies after him and then sending his personal bodyguard Caiera, the shadowguard. Caiera, harboring an ancient power known only to her people as the Oldstrong had not found a match in pure power until meeting the Hulk. It was while Hulk battled Caiera that the Red King had finally had enough of the Hulk and sent in his most dangerous weapon: a plague of sentient spores known as the Spikes which consumed all living organisms, turning them into spikes too. The threat of the Spikes is too great for Caiera and Hulk to continue battling each other, for now they are in a race for their lives just to avoid the Spikes. Many of those around them are turned into spikes as well including Miek's queen, the last hope for their race.
Coming back to battle the Red King once final time, Hulk is able to release the spike leaders who revealed that they are captives of the Red King that crash landed on Sakaar a long time ago and do not mean to harm anyone. Now with an army supporting him, Hulk confronts the Red King who is desperate and sets off a charge that will destroy the planet from the inside. Jumping into the destruction of Sakaar, Hulk grabs the plates of the planet and pulls them back into place himself. As the planet's savior, Hulk slays the Red King. Now would be a time for rebuilding.
After the events of the final battle against the Red King, Hulk is looked to as the leader. All was not well at first. Hulk's allies against the Red King are now fighting with each other in an attempt to decide what to do with the Red King gone. Meeting in the arena once more former teammates prepare to battle each other until Hulk steps in and says that if they want to fight they can fight him. The Shadow Priests watch from a distance believing the Hulk to be no better than the Red King. Hulk forces the opposition to attack him, plunging their spears, arrows, and swords into his flesh. Hulk declared that they are all warbound with each other as they had teamed up against him, and need not fight each other. This proved once again that regardless of whether Hulk is the Sakaarson or not, Hulk is a natural leader for Sakaar.
Hulk allows the Spikes to feed off of him during the day so that no one else is harmed while they work on a way to send the spikes back into space where they belong. In love with Caiera, Hulk and Caiera become married and Caiera reveals to Hulk that she is pregnant with his child. Hulk returns the Spikes to space, and finally becomes more comfortable with his role as the new king of Sakaar. A new era of peace looms on the horizon for Sakaar as old relationships are rekindled, and as the Warbound now work together with the people of Sakaar to rebuild what the Red King had destroyed. It seems as if everything is all right. This is proof of the toughness of Hulk. Even launched into space on a desolate, angry planet, he managed to prosper.
Everything seemed almost too good to be true when the ship the Hulk was brought to Sakaar on began to emit warnings that its power systems were failing. Hulk was not able to send the ship into the atmosphere in time, and an explosion rocked the world destroying virtually all life (including Caiera) and setting the planet up for its demise once again. Hulk is found by the Warbound, some of the only survivors of the planet's destruction, and with them plots a course back to Earth to seek out the Illuminati to make them pay for destroying their paradise. Let the World War Hulk begin!
The events of Planet Hulk are continued in the World War Hulk storyline, where Hulk returns to Earth with his Warbound allies to find the Illuminati. A lot has changed while Hulk was gone, and Hulk is angrier than ever...
In Other Media
- In 2010, Lionsgate released an animated Planet Hulk movie as part of their deal with Marvel (a partnership that also led to Ultimate Avengers, Ultimate Avengers 2, Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow, Hulk vs. Wolverine and Hulk vs. Thor). The film followed the plot of the original comic storyline fairly closely, but featured a few significant deviations from the plot, such as Beta Ray Bill being the controlled superhero the Hulk is forced to fight in the Red King's arena. The movie also featured a far more optimistic ending than the comic, with Caiera becoming the Hulk's bride, and the members of the Warbound being viewed as heroes by the people of Sakaar. The tragic twist ending of the comic never occurs, and thus the planet is not destroyed.
- Certain plot elements of "Planet Hulk" were loosely adapted in the 2017 live-action film Thor: Ragnarok, part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film reveals that after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Hulk ended up in a wormhole and was teleported to the alien world of Sakaar. When Thor crash lands on Sakaar two years later, he discovers that the Hulk has become the star attraction in the Contest of Champions, a brutal and vicious gladiatorial tournament hosted by the Grandmaster (who rules Sakaar in this version, replacing the Red King). After being fitted with an obedience disk, Thor is forced to battle the Hulk in the Grandmaster's arena, mirroring the fight between the Hulk and the Silver Savage in the comic. The heroes eventually escape from Sakaar, but not before helping Korg start a populist revolution against the Grandmaster's tyranny.
- Marvel Animation released a free online flash game called Planet Hulk: Gladiators to promote the animated movie.
- The Hulk's time on Sakaar is referenced in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2.
- When facing the Hulk in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Doctor Strange references his part in launching the Hulk into space. The Hulk's gladiator gear is also available as an alternate costume.
- Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite once again feature's the Hulk's gladiator gear as an alternate costume.
- Gladiator Hulk is a playable character in the Marvel Contest of Champions mobile app game.
- Gladiator Hulk appears in Marvel Future Fight mobile app game.
- Gladiator Hulk is a playable character in Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2.
- Gladiator Hulk (dubbed "Planet Hulk") was featured in Hasbro's Marvel Legends line as part of the Annihilus Build-a-Figure wave. A newer version (now dubbed "King Hulk") was later released as part of the Fin Fang Foom Build-a-Figure wave.
- Similarly, the Silver Savage was featured in Hasbro's Marvel Legends Red Hulk Build-a-Figure wave.
- XM Studios produced a King Hulk statue.
- The HeroClix figure game featured a special diorama figure that included Hulk, Silver Savage, Korg and Miek.
- Gladiator Hulk was featured in Diamond Select's Minimates line as part of a two-pack with the Red King.
- Gladiator Hulk was featured in Diamond Collectibles' Marvel Select line.
- A Gladiator Hulk statue was produced by Bowen Designs.
- A Gladiator Hulk statue was released by Sideshow Collectibles.
- The Ragnarok version of Hulk was the subject of a Marvel Legends Build-a-Figure wave from Hasbro.
- Gladiator Hulk was featured in the various product lines released for Thor: Ragnarok, including those by Hasbro, Funko, Lego, Bandai, Comicave, Hot Toys and more.