HULK VS. (Blu-ray)
Hulk Vs. finds the not-so-jolly green giant in two different adventures that have more to do with the challengers as the Hulk is just the catalyst of the stories, but that doesn’t make them any less fun for Marvel Comics fans.
“Hulk vs. Wolverine” is a 37-minute feature that deals with Wolverine’s origin. The movie opens with Wolverine waking up in the middle of a forest, unsure of what’s happening. A loud scream rings out and The Hulk leaps into the clearing, refreshing Wolverine’s memory. Four hours earlier, the Canadian military show a plainclothes Logan around a city that the Hulk devastated as he passed through. Logan is tasked with stopping or killing the Hulk. Back in costume, Wolverine finds Bruce Banner in the woods, but the Hulk is quick to show up. Although Wolverine does some damage with his adamantium claws, Hulk lays a savage beatdown on him.
During this first fight, my nine-year-old nephew Sobrino Poco Loco claimed this was “the best cartoon he’s ever seen because it’s so violent,” correctly pointing out “you don’t see this in SpongeBob.”
In the middle of their fight, both heroes get shot with tranquilizers, administered by Deadpool. Sabretooth, Omega Red, and Lady Deathstrike accompany him. While unconscious, Wolverine’s origin plays out. When he wakes, he learns that Hydra’s Weapon X team sought out the Hulk to turn him into a weapon. The plan is foiled because the villains desire revenge against Wolverine, who foil that plan by unleashing the Hulk. Make sure you stay tuned after the credits
“Hulk vs. Wolverine” is a very good cartoon with a lot of action. Sobrino used “awesome” and “cool” to describe it and noted “every kid loves violence.” It also portrays Wolverine’s origin story well. The only downside is that everyone involved with Weapon X seems to have magical healing powers that allow them to put themselves back together when limbs are lost. When a slice of Deadpool’s arm slides by like a piece of meat, Sobrino said it “should have been rated R.”
“Hulk vs. Thor” runs 45 minutes and focuses more on story as Loki brings Banner to Asgard to defeat his stepbrother Thor, but the Hulk gets to smash plenty of stuff before it’s all said and done.
While Odin takes his ritual slumber, the enemies of Asgard seize a chance to destroy, but as is always the case, the Asgardians repel the marauders. This time, Loki decides to take advantage of aftermath while the populace recuperates. Through her magical powers, the Enchantress separates Banner from the Hulk, allowing Loki to take control over Hulk’s actions. Loki kills Banner and makes the Hulk tear everything up in his path. Thor arrives but the Hulk delivers a beating that almost kills him. The Hulk’s rage is so strong and with nothing to limit it, Loki eventually loses control of the Hulk. Loki orders Enchantress to return the Hulk to Earth, but she can’t without Banner’s soul inside. Thor and Loki must go to Hela’s domain to retrieve it before the Hulk destroys Odin.
“Hulk vs. Thor” is enjoyable, but it’s noticeably different in pace and tone from “vs. Wolverine,” and is better suited for a fan of Thor. Sobrino thought is was so-so and not as exciting. Since he didn’t know the characters, he found it hard to follow and said it was “not really Hulk,” which I would agree with. They did spend more time with the character of Banner, although he’s weak and sniveling in this one too.
Each episode comes with extras, some similar, some different. Both offer two commentary tracks. Co-writer and supervising producer Craig Kyle and co-writer Chris Yost talk about each, while producer and supervising director Frank Pauer is joined by the artists who worked on each project. Both episodes also offer their own making-of featurette and trailer gallery.
They differ with “vs. Wolverine” showing footage of the 2008 San Diego Comic Con panel while “vs. Thor” honors comic-book legend Jack Kirby, who first drew the thunder god in the Marvel Universe. Unfortunately it’s less than five minutes.
The digital-to-digital transfer of the animation makes the picture look flawless in it’s 1.78:1 Widescreen presentation. The colors are vibrant and the blacks are deep and rich. The colors are on full display during the opening credits “vs. Thor” as the visuals travel through space from Earth to Asgard along the Rainbow Bridge. Not all the backgrounds are drawn with clarity but wherever there is texture it can be seen clearly.
The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is used to great effect. The music and the action surround the viewer and the Hulk gives the subwoofer a workout. Sobrino said it sounded just like a movie theater. The sound levels are balanced well because there’s no need to adjust the volume when the fighting stops for dialogue.
This release seems like it’s intended in part to draw attention to other Marvel Comics projects since DVD releases featuring the other characters are promoted, but nothing more about the Hulk. Wolverine and the X-Men has already been airing on television and will be released on DVD this spring. Thor: Tales of Asgard tells a story of a young Thor. The direct-to-DVD movie will be released in the fall.
Hulk Vs. is an improvement over previous Marvel Comics direct-to-DVD releases, like Ultimate Avengers 2, because both the stories and action are improved. The battle between Hulk and Wolverine deserves to be remembered alongside their classic comic-book clashes. This deserves a place on your comic shelf, especially in Blu-ray.