She-Hulk's Abomination Post-Credit Scene Makes Incredible Hulk a Major Marvel Movie

She-Hulk’s Abomination Post-Credit Scene Makes Incredible Hulk a Major Marvel Movie

It’s been 18 wild months for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not only has the multi-billion dollar franchise expanded into TV, but the medium has also begun to use the medium to recontextualize the movies that built its empire in the first place. And no series has done more work in that regard than She-Hulk: Lawyerwho puts one of the oldest MCU super-villains back on the board.

It’s a clear sign that Louis Leterrier’s much-maligned 2008 film The Incredible Hulk is back at the forefront of the MCU.

[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers for She-Hulk: Attorney at Law episode 9.]

Image: Marvel Studios

She-HulkThe finale episode may have poked fun at many Marvel traditions, but it perpetuated one: a mid-credits scene, one in which Wong, the Sorcerer Supreme, freed Emil Blonsky, the Abomination, from prison, and more. a dangling plotline that any future Marvel project could pick up.

And Emil Blonsky isn’t the only villain of The Incredible Hulk whose revival has become a part of the modern MCU – a film that was hardly considered part of Marvel’s multiverse woven into the carpet.

The Incredible Hulk who?

The Hulk, visibly very angry, on a burning street in The Incredible Hulk (2008).

Image: Marvel Studios/Universal Images

Released in the shadow of the game-changing Iron Man, it’s not hard to understand why The Incredible Hulk has long been lost in the doldrums of the MCU’s Phase One. Although it brought the MCU version of the Hulk closer to the comics than Ang Lee’s 2003 Hulk movie, it also played it relatively safe. The film introduces Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) who is already cloaked and already on the run. He takes on the classic Hulk antagonists Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt) and the Abomination (Tim Roth), and we meet his lifelong comic book love, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), who drives Bruce to control the monster within.

With over 20 MCU movies released since then, and Mark Ruffalo’s much more popular version of the character, 2008 is The Incredible Hulk seemed destined to be forgotten. Then came Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

That hectic and fun family saga where Wong (Benedict Wong) fought with The Incredible Hulk‘s villain the Abomination in an underground fighting ring. The choice surprised some MCU fans who had taken it The Incredible Hulk was anything but a memory. That rethink has continued with the arrival of She-Hulk, one of Marvel’s most iconic legacy characters, in her own self-titled Disney Plus series. In that context, revisit The Incredible Hulk makes sense, because Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany)’s parentage is directly linked to that of her super-powered cousin. The latest Disney Plus series was only too eager to show that this was more than just a cameo, as Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth, returning to the role) became a key part of Jen’s story and gave Bruce the closure he needed. as well as treating the audience to a meta nod to Ruffalo’s recast.

While all of that could be explained away as Hulk cases fit for a Hulk story, it became clear during D23 that the MCU wasn’t done with it yet. The Incredible Hulk. In one of the most surprising news stories of that sprawling weekend, it was revealed that Tim Blake Nelson would be returning to the MCU as the infamous Incredible Hulk villain the leader Captain America: New World Order. While it may seem like an unexpected distraction, looking back on The Incredible Hulk it’s actually surprising that the MCU hasn’t returned to its sophomores sooner.

The MCU was built on the backs of heroes who certainly weren’t A-list in 2008. Iron Man, Nick Fury, Captain America and Thor were far from the cultural icons they are today. Looking at that roster as it was then, it’s clear that the Hulk was the best-known hero that Marvel Studios had access to. Thanks to decades of comics and his titular – and very popular – TV series, Bruce Banner and his alter ego should have been the big MCU hit.

The Abomination in The Incredible Hulk - the result of the pursuit of power

Image: Marvel Studios/Universal Images

But years of licensing issues caused Universal to own the rights to the character, which led to Marvel Studios teaming up with Universal to create The Incredible Hulk to happen. And if we look at an important precedent and the impact of The Incredible Hulk, that’s a business deal as big as the Marvel Studios-Sony Pictures partnership that brought Peter Parker to the MCU in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

However, it wasn’t just a behind-the-scenes pioneer; The Incredible Hulk also reimagined Bruce Banner’s origins in a way that would become key to the future of the MCU. In the classic comics, Bruce’s powers come from experiments with gamma rays. But in The Incredible Hulk, the film repositions its origin as one with a much broader context. Here, Bruce attempted to recreate the original Super Soldier Serum – a recurring theme and a bug that would be repeated throughout the MCU – and to do this he replaced the original formula’s vita radiation with gamma radiation. The Incredible Hulk is the first place where the Super Soldier Serum was introduced, and it’s the reason the MCU has a Hulk in the first place. And soon Emil Blonsky joined him.

And then there was The Incredible HulkThaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross. Ross, one of the main antagonists in the Hulk comics, became a military mainstay in the MCU even as his path diverged from his future son-in-law. In fact, Ross became such an important player that it would have been easy—especially without Tyler’s Betty being around—to forget he had anything to do with Bruce at all. Of She-Hulk finally acknowledging the current Hulk’s relationship with the film the Ross family debuted in, that could potentially change. While Hurt’s tragic death means we probably won’t see Thaddeus again, we could see Betty’s return — technically we already have, on an episode of What if…? She’s just another essential part of the Hulk lore that was established in the movie…like the leader.

Samuel Sterns was introduced in The Incredible Hulk as a friend of Bruce Banner – who eventually betrayed him and played a part in creating the Abomination – who we last saw morphing into the Leader after gamma rays made their way into his bloodstream. As The Incredible Hulk never got a direct sequel, fans never discovered his fate. But that’s going to change in 2024, when Captain America: New World Order touches theatres. And why not? The Incredible Hulk is ripe to visit again. The movie introduced so many important parts of Bruce’s lore. Why not reintroduce them in modern times?

Aside from the fact that Marvel Studios is unlikely to let any portion of its cinematic body of work slip from the canon, the return to The Incredible Hulk actually takes on one of the best things about telling comics. A creator can bring something to life that can then lie dormant for years before someone else rediscovers it and gives it meaning again. As the MCU grows, we can expect more of this kind of rethinking and digs, and that’s pretty good.

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