hulk-vs-regular-cover-copyFor the price of one DVD, you receive two separate Marvel animated features in Hulk Vs.  They share some commonalities yet remain distinctly different movies, each having its own strengths.  And weaknesses.

Both films benefit from terrific soundtracks and excellent art direction.  Long have I complained that the Marvel animation lacks any real artistic chops.  It’s always felt generic and uninspired whereas DC’s animation from series television (Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series) to its features (New Frontier, Superman: Doomsday) have all been stunning.

Neither film is really about the Hulk, but rather the characters he opposes.  The Green Goliath is very much a guest star in both stories.  That’s a bit irritating that he couldn’t have had more character development or substance.   After all, it ain’t easy being green.Also annoying is that the Hulk’s alter-ego, Bruce Banner, is portrayed as a colossal wuss in both movies.  That’s not the character we know from the comics, TV, or the movie theater.  So, you know, WTF?

The first feature, and certainly the weaker of the two, is Hulk Vs Thor.   Asgard was beautifully depicted as were the Norse gods. Thor, Loki, Hela, Enchantress… all were rendered in magnificent style, true to the source material. I was very much impressed with the manner in which the characters were portrayed, which makes it all the more disturbing that I couldn’t bear the Hulk’s animation.

Very little character – or thought even – was provided the Hulk’s head and face. It seemed an after thought, really. His facial expressions were more appropriate to Popeye: The Sailor Man than to this Marvel feature.

I had big problems with the voice acting in this one as well. First, I don’t get the English accents for Norse gods. I know the creators probably didn’t want to roll with something Swedish or Germanic. But why not a straight-up Americanized mid-west with some character? The Warriors Three also were poorly cast. None of those voices fit otherwise terrific animation.

The voice talent was just off on this thing.  None of the voice matched the characters.  None of them evoked a sense of the character. And the Hulk’s roar? Could have used some sound engineering to really kick that bass up. I want the room to RUMBLE when the Hulk is mad.

On the other hand, Hulk Vs Wolverine rocks hard.  First and foremost, it is surprisingly violent for a Marvel animated feature.  I’m always annoyed when Wolverine is toned down.  After all, he’s the best he is at what he does and what he does isn’t very nice (does Frank Miller get some kind of royalty every time that line is used, or does God just kill a kitten instead?).  Wolverine slashes and stabs, slicing off limbs, killing people.  The Hulk even pulls arms off of a character!  Go Hulk!

Hulk Vs Thor was absent the level of SMASH I like in a Hulk story.  Hulk Vs Wolverine more than makes up for it.

Additionally, HvW has excellent voice acting and some awfully amusing writing for bad guy, Dead Pool.

“Die! Die! Diediediediedie!”

Love that guy.

The special features provide a nice glimpse of the upcoming animated feature Tales of Asgard.  The animation for ToA is outstanding!  Can’t wait for that one.

Despite the weaknesses mentioned, the DVD is a win.  These features are the best out of Marvel’s animated studios thus far.  Recommended.