Studio: Lionsgate Home Entertainment, Marvel Animation
Release Date: January 27th, 2009
Synopsis: Marvel Animated Features and Lionsgate release two of the most legendary chapters in
Marvel's comic book history with the eagerly awaited DVD title Hulk Vs.
If Hulk alone weren't enough, Hulk is now joined by Wolverine and Thor in this newest addition
to the Marvel Animated Features series. Make way for the clash of Marvel's mightiest heroes,
as Bruce Banner's alter-ego takes on fan favorites Wolverine and Thor in two epic,
all new, action-packed animated films — Hulk Vs. Wolverine and Hulk Vs. Thor.
Two great stories - one great movie! These dark and violent showdowns have been seen in
various forms throughout Marvel comic book history, and the rematches have continued to
thrill comic fans ever since. Now Marvel and Lionsgate have taken the two epic comic
book battles and merged them into two heart pounding tales on one DVD release
that stays true to its comic book roots.
Hulk Versus Thor Screenshots -- Hulk Versus Wolverine Screenshots
Hulk Versus Feature Review
by James Harvey
So, how does Lionsgate Home Entertainment and Marvel Animation follow-up last year's great Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow, the kid-friendly futuristic adventure? Why, by putting the Hulk through some of the toughest obstacles he's ever faced and tossing in a bunch of popular Marvel characters. Thor? Check! Wolverine? Check! What seems to be an infinite amount of supporting characters? Check. Hulk Versus is full of surprises, some surprises that are just too great to spoil here, and others that will keep you on the edge of your seat until both stories wrap up. The creative teams at Marvel Animated Features have been upping their game with each movie. Last year's Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow was a great animated flick, one of the best they've done, but Hulk Versus is a fanboy's dream come to life, one that I'm sure many will dig.
Marvel Animated Features and Lionsgate will release two of the most legendary chapters in Marvel's comic book history with the eagerly awaited DVD release Hulk Vs. If Hulk alone weren't enough, Hulk is now joined by the Super Heroes of the next 2 Marvel tentpole films—Wolverine and Thor in this newest addition to the Marvel Animated Features series. Make way for the clash of Marvel's mightiest heroes, as Bruce Banner's alter-ego takes on fan favorites Wolverine and Thor in two epic, all new, action-packed animated films—Hulk Vs. Wolverine and Hulk Vs. Thor. Two great stories - one great movie! These dark and violent showdowns have been seen in various forms throughout Marvel comic book history, and the rematches have continued to thrill comic fans ever since. Now Marvel and Lionsgate have taken the two epic comic book battles and merged them into two heart pounding tales on one DVD release that stays true to its comic book roots.
Hulk Versus is essentially two stories under one label - Hulk Versus Wolverine and Hulk Versus Thor Even the menu system for the 2-Disc Special Edition DVD and the Blu-ray treat them as different entities. Since Hulk Versus is basically treated as two mini-movies, I will be taking the same approach with this review by looking at Hulk Versus Wolverine and Hulk Versus Thor separately. Both of these stories are completely different in tone and execution and they merit individual examination.
First up is Hulk Versus Wolverine, 37 minutes of pure carnage. Hulk Versus Wolverine hits the ground running with Wolverine and Hulk duking it out as the result of Department H sending the soon-to-be-X-Man to investigate the destruction of a small Canadian town. This movie is definitely a fanboy's dream, as there's little that will disappoint fans here. If there's any hardcore Sabretooth, Omega Red, or Deathstrike fans, well, then they may be upset that those characters act mostly as window-dressing here, never really coming off as fully dimensional characters. That's the only real downside in the character department. Hulk and Wolverine are handled as best as can be expected for this movie, each getting some truly jaw-dropping moments, even though the emphasis seems to be more on Wolverine than Hulk. We get to see Wolverine's backstory, from him first being kidnapped outside of a bar, to the Adamantium bonding procedure (which has never looked more painful than it does here), up to his very bloody escape from the Weapon X program. It's amazing to see his origin done justice here, which was something I was not expecting to see in Hulk Versus Wolverine.
As fun as Hulk Versus Wolverine is, one character will be a definite standout to the fans - Deadpool. Performed to perfection by Nolan North, Deadpool is absolutely hilarious in this mini-movie, getting the best one-liners and jokes. There's even a great Deadpool gag that you should stick around after the credits for.
And like I said, Hulk Versus Wolverine is pure fanboy fun, even if it is a bit juvenile. Remember Superman Doomsday last year, how some of the action scenes were so over-the-top? Well, Wolverine Versus Hulk is incredibly over-the-top violent, and it knows it. In fact, it soaks it up from start to finish. Blood is just splashed over the scenery as we see bodies ripped apart, pummelled, and clawed to pieces for the film's duration. Now, I'm not saying this is a bad thing, but I know some fans may have a rough time sitting through 37 minutes of pure violence. And even though the story is a bit thin, it's still solid enough to get hooked into it and enjoy. This movie is absolutely delirious at times, and it seems to just revel in it. There's one scene in particular where the Hulk just smashes Wolverine into the ground and then proceeds to pummel him repeatedly over and over and over again. It's absolutely insane how violent this movie is and how bloody it can be at times. Still, fans expecting a rock 'em-sock 'em clash between Hulk and Wolverine will not be disappointed, and they'll even get a few surprises along the way.
And from there we move onto the second mini-movie, Hulk Versus Thor. Fans of Thor may find themselves torn by this 45 minute movie. Thor takes an enormous amount of punishment in this movie, but he does it for a reason. A reason that some viewers may not realize right away, which I won't spoil here. The plot, much like Wolverine Versus Hulk is simple. Loki has brought the Hulk to Asgard in order to take over the kingdom. After separating Banner from the Hulk, Loki soon finds himself unable to control the beast, resulting in Thor and Loki teaming up to save Asgard from total destruction. That's basically it. But, instead of the ferocious nature of the Hulk Versus Wolverine movie, we get more of a majestic, epic feel to the story Hulk Versus Thor. Like Hulk Versus Wolverine, we get to see a great amount of Thor's supporting characters, some who are given smaller roles than others, of course, but still, each one gets a moment or two to shine. And, naturally, Thor himself is given the largest role in the movie, and he's handled quite well for the character. Again, others may find fault with how the Hulk really does take Thor to the cleaners, but I thought it worked in building the suspense in the story. I also found the violence here was handled really differently than in the Hulk Versus Wolverine movie. There's plenty of action, yes, but we don't see limbs fly and blood splatter here. The violence here seemed more stylized as opposed to the brutal nature of the other movie included here. Comparing the stories here, while both to be somewhat thin, I found Hulk Versus Thor to be more engaging. Maybe it was the fantastical nature of the setting, but I found it really easy to get into and get lost with Hulk Versus Thor.
The different styles for each mini-movie works for their respective stories. The designs for Hulk Versus feel more angular and rough, adding to the violent, dark nature of the Hulk Versus Wolverine tale. In Hulk Versus Thor, the designs are stylized, but they also carry a sense of the fantastic to them. They aren't as angular and rough as Hulk Versus Wolverine, but they do have some extra detail and more of a rounded look. Both movies keep the designs true to their comic roots, giving us classic versions of some of the most beloved costumes in the Marvel Universe. Whether it's the classic Thor suit or their rendition of the original Wolverine costume, the design work here is incredibly faithful to its roots and for that I believe it adds to what this movie is trying to do - bring some big Marvel battles to life. Spearheaded by Jeff Matsuda (The Batman), Hulk Versus is probably one of the best looking Marvel Animated Features to date. This is coupled with the top-notch animation in Hulk Versus. A stand-out scene, for me, is the beautifully animated scene where Wolverine tackles a bear in the frozen Northern Canadian tundra.
Before I go any further, I just want to make specific note of a few things. In terms of the cast, Fred Tatasciore is great as the Hulk, providing just the right amount of ferocity to the role, one he's reprising from previous Marvel Animated Features. Bryce Johnson, who played the lead in the Doctor Strange animated feature, plays the victimized Banner to interesting effect here. Steve Blum and Matthew Wolf play Wolverine and Thor, each bringing weight and gravitas to their respective roles. I already mentioned Nolan North's great work as Deadpool earlier in this review. The score by Guy Michelmore also deserves a special mention. Michelmore manages to ups his game considerably with each movie he composes, and his excellent work here is no exception. I strongly suggest downloading this score when it becomes available to download on iTunes next week. I also found the directing on both features to be some of the best yet to grace a Marvel Animated Feature.
If I have any major criticism, it seems that Hulk acts mostly as a plot point for both movies and that's it. We get to see a bit more of him, but, for the most part, he seems just there to smash things and he serves that purpose well. Fans should be happy to hear Hulk spout all of his popular lines from the comics, and also a few more. They did a good job with the Hulk, don't get me wrong, but I was hoping we'd see these more has Hulk stories instead of vehicles for Wolverine and Thor. It's because of the Hulk that Wolverine finds himself in a difficult situation. It's because of Hulk that Thor has to go to Hell itself to try and save Asgard. Hulk seems to be a pawn in both movies, both of Department H and Loki, and I suppose that was the best way to work him into these roles. They do him justice, though, and for what the movie present, Hulk is handled well. It's likely because the stories for both Hulk Versus Wolverine and Hulk Versus Thor are somewhat thin, but I suppose it works in the grand scheme to try and find a way to make these characters meet. On the other hand, I like that this movie actually had the nerve to toss the viewer into the middle of a story. When we first see Bruce Banner in Hulk Versus Thor, he's already been captured by Loki. And in Hulk Versus Wolverine, we first see Banner just after he's rampaged through a small Canadian town. Both movies give enough exposition to keep the viewers up to speed, especially those who may be new to the Marvel Universe. To those viewers in the know, there's plenty of references to the comic books to keep them entertained. My personal favorite is the visual reference to the cover of Wolverine Origins #1 in the Hulk Versus Wolverine segment.
While Hulk Versus may not be perfect, will definitely please fans and newcomers. If you're looking for a kick-ass comic movie, you got it here! The entire Hulk Versus feature is a fun exercise in letting comic book characters run loose, but if I had to pick a favorite out of the two, I'd have to lean a bit more toward Hulk Versus Thor. Don't get me wrong, Hulk Versus Wolverine is fun with its over-the-top insanity, but the epic feel of Hulk Versus Thor just grabbed me a little more. The visuals are eye-popping and exciting, and still found myself engaged by both of the movies even though the stories are somewhat thin. Probably the highest profile Marvel Animated Feature to date, Hulk Versus is definitely something that fans haven't seen before. Yes, they've seen heroes tussle in their favorite comics, even in some of the other cartoons and animated features, but never like this. The action is intense and usually unforgiving as characters hack and smash their way through these two features. And while some will find the violence over-the-top and repetitive, others will no doubt get a kick out of the demented and sometimes cartoonish mayhem. Hulk Versus is another great release by Marvel Animated Features that comes Highly Recommended.