Building on the $135 million box office success of this year’s The Incredible Hulk, Marvel StudiosÂ is releasing Hulk Vs.,Â jumping on an opportunity to give Hulk fans more of what they want, while simultaneously marketing their upcoming high-profileÂ Wolverine and Thor features. Though part of the Marvel Animated Features series, Hulk Vs. is really two very separateÂ short animated films (Hulk vs. Thor and Hulk vs.Â Wolverine)Â - each featuring Hulk in a different battle and each running just over half an hour (Wolverine is about 35 minutes and Thor is around 45). The 2-Disc special edition puts each featurette on a separate disc, along with an abundance of special features,Â with the Wolverine battle on the first disc and Thor on the second.
Hulk vs. Wolverine, pulling inspiration fromÂ the first comic book appearance of Wolverine (in The Incredible Hulk #180) opens on WolverineÂ seeking the Hulk in a remote forest.Â Hulk has apparentlyÂ been rampaging the countryside, spurring the government to call in Wolverine to “stop the Hulk before it reaches another town or city, and if you can’t stop it, kill it.” Wolverine (with a gravelly voice provided by Steve Blum)Â takes his assignment seriouslyÂ and sets out into the wilderness toÂ find whatever has been causing the damage and put a stop to it. There he meets Bruce Banner (and relatively quickly, the Hulk).Â It soonÂ becomes clear, as Sabretooth, Deadpool, Omega Red, and Lady Deathstrike enter the picture,Â that Hulk hasn’t been the sole agent in the widespread destruction.Â A brief portion of Wolverine’s backstoryÂ has been inserted (a bit roughly in my opinion)Â into the episode, along with the rest of the story. The animated action sequences here are impressive, with several epic battles and a decent amount of bloodshed. Deadpool’s clever quips (delivered sarcastically by Nolan North) are the highlight of this animation, giving a light side to the otherwise heavy battle sequences.
The second, and longer,Â featurette finds the trickster Loki attempting to use Hulk as a way to defeat his stepbrother Thor by controlling his actions. The storyline is enjoyable enough, but after the action and excitement of the first featurette (with Wolverine), the Thor episode feels a bit stiff and cartoonyÂ - Hulk’s newly grownÂ mess of hair and Thor’s “godly” manner of speakingÂ don’t help either. Unlike the first animation, this battle feels more like something you might see on Cartoon Network, rather than an especially accurate animated adaptation of a comic book. There are a few interesting and well-doneÂ sequences involving Bruce Banner and some tough decisions, but for the most part this second disc feels a bit lackluster after the first one.
The special features on these discs are numerous, though not necessarily exciting: four commentary tracks (two per episode), a “making of” for each, and then a few other featurettes (the mostÂ informative being aÂ question and answer sessionÂ after the screening of HulkÂ vs. Wolverine at the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con).Â Overall, this addition to the Marvel Animated Features series is entertaining and clever, even if it may feel a bit cartoony for those not already heavily committed to the Marvel universe.
Zach’s Rating: Hulk Vs.: B- (Hulk vs. Wolverine: B+, Hulk vs. Thor: C)
Perfect For: Any Marvel fan who can’t stand the wait between superheroÂ films
Stay Away if: You’re looking for the quality that the live-action features have offered
To purchase Hulk Vs. visit Amazon