Hulk Vs. (Two-Disc Special Edition) (Widescreen)Building on the $135 million box office success of this year’s The Incredible Hulk, Marvel Studios is releasing Hulk Vs., jumping on an opportunity to give Hulk fans more of what they want, while simultaneously marketing their upcoming high-profile Wolverine and Thor features. Though part of the Marvel Animated Features series, Hulk Vs. is really two very separate short animated films (Hulk vs. Thor and Hulk vs. Wolverine) – 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, with the Wolverine battle on the first disc and Thor on the second.

Hulk vs. Wolverine, pulling inspiration from the first comic book appearance of Wolverine (in The Incredible Hulk #180) opens on Wolverine seeking the Hulk in a remote forest. Hulk has apparently 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) takes his assignment seriously and sets out into the wilderness to find whatever has been causing the damage and put a stop to it. There he meets Bruce Banner (and relatively quickly, the Hulk). It soon becomes clear, as Sabretooth, Deadpool, Omega Red, and Lady Deathstrike enter the picture, that Hulk hasn’t been the sole agent in the widespread destruction. A brief portion of Wolverine’s backstory has been inserted (a bit roughly in my opinion) 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, 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 cartoony – Hulk’s newly grown mess of hair and Thor’s “godly” manner of speaking 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-done 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 most informative being a question and answer session after the screening of Hulk vs. Wolverine at the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con). 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 superhero films
Stay Away if: You’re looking for the quality that the live-action features have offered

To purchase Hulk Vs. visit Amazon

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