Marvel has long lagged behind DC when it comes to animated fare, both in terms of features and TV series. This grudge match between the God of Thunder and the Green Goliath, forming part of a double bill with “Hulk vs Wolverine” (unfortunately, the three of them don’t get together to duke it out at all), is worth checking out for a few reasons.
During the Odinsleep, Loki seeks to take advantage of Asgard’s preoccupation with would-be invaders by transporting Bruce Banner to Asgard and, with The Enchantress’ assistance, separating him from The Hulk. With The Hulk under Loki’s magical control, he launches his attack on Asgard, forcing Thor to intervene.
The animation is actually pretty good, and certainly a cut above the stuff Marvel usually churns out on TV but its in the writing and design that “Hulk vs Thor” merits a closer look. Released a mere year after Robert Downey Jr made his MCU-initiating debut in “Iron Man” and some two years before Thor would make his own entrance, there are nevertheless signs of the proto-MCU here. It’s no surprise given one of the producers is none other than Kevin Feige and the screenplay is written by Christopher Yost, who would go on to help write “Thor: The Dark World” and “Thor: Ragnarok”. The portrayal of magic, used by The Enchantress, foreshadows “Doctor Strange” and the story of “Hulk vs Thor” deals not only with the Asgardian prophecy of Ragnarok but even features Hela, albeit in her more orthodox comic book incarnation as Loki’s daughter.
It’s an action-packed three-quarters of an hour, featuring a bone-crunching, mountain-shattering battle between two of Marvel’s strongest heroes, backed up by an interesting supporting story involving the fate of Banner, separated from the Hulk. I doubt it gives us any insight into what Ragnarok will bring but it’s interesting nonetheless to see what Marvel did the last time they got this particular playset out.
“Hulk vs Wolverine” is a less complex, more crowd-pleasing adventure which, to be honest, might very well have been called “Wolverine (featuring Hulk)”. The Weapon X programme lures Wolverine back to the Canadian wilderness by unleashing the Hulk, only to capture them both. Featuring fan favourites such as Lady Deathstrike, Omega Red, Sabretooth and Deadpool, its yet another examination of how Wolverine came to be equipped with his adamantium claws. There’s – understandably – much less of an MCU feel to this one and it goes for simple flat-out action. Despite both being too short to be considered features on their own and yet too long to feel like TV episodes, both adventures have a suitably cinematic feel, akin to the work done on “The Animatrix”.