Marvel has been steadily releasing direct-to-DVD animated films based on their properties for the past few years, starting with Ultimate Avengers in 2005 we’ve seen the House of Ideas offer new interpretations of familiar characters. With their latest release, Hulk Vs., fans get to see the green goliath battle two of Marvel’s mightiest heroes.
Unlike past releases, this “movie” is broken into two animated episodes, with a total running time of just over an hour and twenty minutes. Given that there are two separate stories, the time allotted to each doesn’t do them justice. The stories feel rushed and could easily be tackled in one of Marvel’s latest cartoon series.
The first story is Hulk Vs. Wolverine, inspired by events from the first Wolverine appearance in comics, The Incredible Hulk issue 180. Tthe story takes place in the Canadian wilderness where the Hulk appears to have gone on a rampage and Wolverine is called in by “Department H” to stop him. Unfortunately a team from the Weapon X project is also tracking the Hulk and they come across the two knee deep in action. The Weapon X team, comprised of Deadpool, Sabretooth, Omega Red and Lady Deathstrike manage to capture both Logan and the Hulk and transport them to a secret facility where they plan on transforming both in human weapons. The remainder of the film deals with Wolverine and Hulk escaping from the facility where they’re being held. It was more, Hulk and Wolverine vs. Weapon X then Hulk vs. Wolverine.
The second story is Hulk vs. Thor. In it, with the help of Amora, Loki brings Hulk to Asgard during Odin’s annual winter rest, a time when the kingdom is vulnerable to attack. Loki, the Viking god of mischief and mayhem and step-brother to Thor, is able to separates Banner from the Hulk giving us two separate beings. Loki then takes control of the Hulk and storms the gates of Asgard in an attempt to overthrow the kingdom. His plan is to use the Hulk to kill his brother and take control. Unfortunately his control over the Hulk is broken and he green goliath heads straight for Odin’s tower. Without Odin, Asgard would fall and the Ragnarok would be unleashed.
The only way to stop the Hulk is to reunite him with Dr. Banner. Unfortunately Loki killed him and we find that Banner has been sent into Hela’s realm. With the reluctant help of Loki, Thor must find a way to bring Bruce back and stop the coming of Ragnarok. One problem I had was that it’s never made clear as to why the Hulk has decided to attack Asgard and head for Odin. While he’s gone berserk, he’s still aware enough to know exactly where to strike. He still has enough sense to plan attacks and execute him, it doesn’t make sense really.
Both stories were written and produced by comic scribes Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost. They have a familiarity with the characters and try to deliver what the fans want to see, but they lack a coherent way of stringing the story together. It’s always exciting to see the Hulk and Wolverine going at it, but after a while it gets a little old. There needed to be more meat to the stories, instead all we get are fight fests. While they might be fun to watch, they don’t make for a compelling movie.
One particular thing that bothered me was the portrayal of Dr. Bruce Banner. Banner was a pioneer, a genius forced to run from the rage and destruction that his anger caused. He was a tortured soul, but he wasn’t a weakling. He wasn’t a coward. Unfortunately, that’s how he’s portrayed in both of the “movies”. It goes against almost everything we know of Dr. Banner and the Hulk.
Art wise, it looks fantastic for the most part. The backgrounds are painted and look superb, especially in HD on blu-ray. At times the characters might look a little odd in their presentation, but this was primarily limited to the Thor “movie”. It looked rushed in some parts, and others it looked superb. The Wolverine story looked great and it was fun seeing their interpretation of Deadpool, Sabertooth and company.
Overall, while Hulk Vs. is nothing more then a smash fest with very little substance. It’s always a pleasure to see Wolverine tearing it up, but if there’s no connection to the story it gets boring. The decision to break it up into two separate stories ultimately hurt the “movie”. There wasn’t enough time to draw you in and make you care. This is probably Marvel’s worst animated release so far.