HULK VS: Let Us Give Unto This Scoundrel the Gift of Battle

HULK VS (2009) – A Marvel Animated Feature – Directed by Frank Paur and Sam Liu.

Yup.

HULK VS is, quite simply, the reason comic books are awesome.

There are two movies here and they don’t screw around. HULK VS THOR and HULK VS WOLVERINE rock out from their first frame to their last. There is not another animated superhero story that’s this much fun. Coming in at a combined 82 minutes HULK VS packs a thunderous wallop, delivering action on top of action and serving up all sorts of Marvel characters. More than any of the other Marvel films, this is a movie made for comic book fans by comic book fans. The average person out there isn’t going to know or care who Amora or Deadpool are, but they’re here, and they’re fantastic.

HULK VS THOR is the better of the two movies as it provides the more unique set-up. Loki brings Bruce Banner to Asgard during the Odinsleep, and with Amora the Enchantress’ help, they exchange Banner’s soul for Loki’s inside the Hulk’s body. All that power of the Hulk now controlled by Loki, who’s dead set to finish Thor off for good. Thor fights Loki Hulk, but then the monster’s rage expels Loki’s soul and we get a full-on, 100% Hulk beating Thor to a bloody pulp. The fight scenes between Thor and Hulk are pretty darn good, although the demands of the story (wanting to see Hulk rampage all over Asgard and Hel) demand that Thor’s ass is more kicked than kicking.

Still, that’s a small complaint because we get Hulk vs. Loki and Amora, Hulk vs. the Warriors Three, Hulk vs. Balder, Hulk vs. Thor, Hulk vs. the Valkyrie, Hulk vs. Ymir, Hulk vs. Odin’s ravens, Hulk vs. Asgardian warriors, Hulk vs. Sif and Amora, Hulk vs. the Asgardian dead, Hulk vs. Thor Round II, Hulk vs. Loki and Thor, and finally Hulk vs. Banner.

Are you gonna complain about that?

Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost do a great job building a story around all of this action. When Bruce Banner is killed, his soul goes to Hel, where he has a Captain Kirk in the Nexus experience, living in a beautiful, secluded house with Betty and their kids. After Amora betrays Loki to save Thor, the God of Thunder puts the squeeze on his brother, and together they go begging Hela to give them back Banner’s soul so they can reunite it with the Hulk in order to stop the raging beast. Bruce doesn’t want any part of it, but he eventually relents, though not before we see the agony of this decision.

Having lost Banner’s soul, Hela claims Loki’s soul in its place, which is cold since Loki is, you know, her daddy.

It’s all pretty kick-ass.

And so is HULK VS WOLVERINE. Shorter and less involved, the second-half of the two-fer sees the Canadian government calling in Wolverine to track down the Hulk and stop him. So Wolverine tries and gets his ass handed to him, too. We get a surprisingly bloody fight between the two, but then Team X shows up and takes them both out. Team X is comprised of Sabretooth, Lady Deathstrike, Omega Red, and Deadpool, and the film takes an interesting turn as it’s Deadpool that becomes the star of the film’s second act. With Hulk and Logan captured, it’s Wade Wilson’s mouth that provides the bulk of the fireworks. I know a lot of people have soured on Deadpool, but I think he’s a great character and comes across as an anti-hero version of Spider-Man – he’s got the quipster mouth absent of Peter Parker’s moral compass.

The WOLVERINE story drags a bit despite being shorter than THOR – I’m not sure why we had to delve into Wolverine’s past as Weapon X as it takes the Hulk out of the narrative for far too long – but there’s still plenty of great fight sequences, and the Wolverine vs. Hulk verbal battles are better than Thor’s attempts to talk to the Green Goliath.

Hulk and Wolverine end up teaming up against Team X before a promise of another battle between them is robbed from us by the credits. It’s good stuff but not as good as THOR, though I can imagine someone who’s a bigger fan of these character preferring this story. Still, it’s a smaller, less-sprawling story and while it delivers the goods, it’s not as satisfying.

On the whole, HULK VS is a great double feature. I’ve watched it a bunch of times and I’ll watch it a bunch more. It’s just pure comic book awesomeness in animated form. I wish more animated superhero movies were this fun.

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