Hulk Vs. DVD review

Twice the carnage. Twice the genius that are Marvel Animated Features

Hulk Vs.

Hulk vs Wolverine is arguably one of the most popular comic book mini-series to come out of the Marvel camp, so it makes perfect sense that the latest in the Marvel Animated Features series, which has already brought The Avengers, The Invincible Iron Man and Dr Strange to the small screen, should feature a face-off between these two giants of the Marvel universe.

I don’t know if it’s just me that feels this way, but I was so excited to see how that particular battle panned out that I damn near neglected the Hulk vs Thor feature also included on this disc. I wonder whether many other purchasers may have the same attitude…

That would be a shame though as while Hulk vs Wolverine is easily the superior feature of the two, Hulk vs. Thor still has much to admire.

The plot of HvT sees pretty much every major character from the Marvel Thor universe rock up as the Hulk is brought to Asgard to destroy Thor and the kingdom by Thor’s wayward brother, Loki. While the king of the Gods, Odin, sleeps to regenerate throughout the cold winter, the kingdom is traditionally attacked by all and sundry to try and bring it to its knees. Fortunately, good old Thor is around to keep the peace, but how will he be able to cope against the raging Hulk? Bear in mind that this is a Hulk separated from Bruce Banner and the problem appears to be even graver.

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Not being all that familiar with the Marvel Thor universe – it’s one of the few that I have no interest in – I can’t comment on how accurate the rendering of that world and its inhabitants is. However, the DVD features would have me believe that it’s spot on, so I’m happy to bow down to the expertise of those involved in the project. What I can say is that the animation is excellent throughout, as is the vocal casting and 5.1 surround sound. Best of all though, is the plot itself. At just under 45 minutes, this develops into a complicated piece of dramatic animation, complete with the requisite amount of action-packed sequences that make you whoop with joy as Hulk and Thor smack down.

The aforementioned extra features include two documentaries (one on the making of the feature and one on the upcoming Thor Tales of Asgard animation) and a feature commentary and there is a shedload of insight shone on the processes involved in getting the feature up to scratch.

As good as Hulk vs Thor is though, it pales in comparison to the brilliance that is Hulk vs Wolverine. Grittier, tougher and more violent that HvT, I’m amazed that the disc has been given a 12-certificate. Surely a 15 would have been more appropriate?

Based very much on the pair’s in-print clashes (as the accompanying featurette shows, several shots in the feature are direct shot-for-shots of the comic book stills), HvW follows Wolverine’s hunt for the Hulk in the Canadian wilderness. This is pre-X-Men era, and Wolverine is still the feral, savage beast he was before Professor X and his team brought him renewed focus. Pitted against the destructive, uncontrolled Hulk and tasked with bringing him in to stop the destruction the big fella has seemingly caused to a small town, the appearance of some old acquaintances shines new light on events and Wolverine ends up having to take on more than he bargained for.

The animation reminded me of the brilliant Aeon Flux, the muscles and sinews on each of the characters showing through to give the feature a real sense of believability to proceedings. It also reminded me of the aforementioned animation because the sheer amount of bloodletting on display is relentless – for younger viewers this is not.

The feature could have ended up little more than half an hour of the savage pair smacking seven bells out of each other, which would have got rather dull. Fortunately, the introduction of Wolverine’s old Mutant X colleagues brings much-needed plot to proceedings and introduces viewers to the first animated incarnation of Deadpool (bringing a great deal of dark comedy to the feature, he threatens to steal the show).

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The only issue I have with the feature is The Hulk’s alter ego. Bruce Banner is portrayed as a cowardly, puny human and I seem to recall Dr. Banner being a strong, intelligent genius of a scientist who was permanently suffering from his predicament but always struggling to keep The Hulk under control. At no point did I get the impression that he was weak.

Putting that to one side though, this is a brave and captivating piece of work that deserves praise for pushing the envelope and creating a more adult animation involving some of Marvel’s very best creations.

The extras include an interesting commentary from creators (and clearly massive fans) Craig Kyle and Chris Yost and the making of featurette I mentioned earlier.

If you’re a fan of Marvel Animated Features, or have simply always wanted to see these characters rendered in an animated feature, this is a fantastic purchase.

4 stars

Rating:

4 out of 5