Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Hulk Vs. Thor

Now, see, Hulk Vs. Wolverine, this is how you do a short, contained story.  There's a clear beginning, middle, and end, and characters manage to get some depth added to them without turning the whole thing into one long narrative.  This is how you have entertaining action mixed with real drama.  This...is  is what you could have been.  This is much, much better.

So, having completely summarized my opinion in the opening paragraph for those of you with short attention spans, I'll now break it down a bit more and explain why Hulk Vs. Thor is the superior of the two films.  And the reasons go more extensively than "The Enchantress.  Mrowr."

Here's the first real difference: In Hulk Vs. Wolverine, it was more "Hulk starts out vs. Wolverine then they almost team up but don't quite against Weapon X, then they start to fight again because Wolverine fails to understand that once he has proof that the Hulk wasn't responsible for widespread devastation, his mission could be considered over."

Hulk Vs. Thor is, at it's core, a battle of the jade giant battling it out against Thor and the forces of Asgard.  It all starts with Asgard, and the brief period of time it's left unprotected by Odin while he partakes in the "Odinsleep."  Kudos to the voice actors able to keep a straight face while having to say that word out loud.  I'm typing it and I'm sniggering.

This is the time when frost giants, dark elves, and demons usually attack, and we get some neat little cameos ranging from Malekith to the forces of Surtur.  It's on the last day that we move our attention over to Loki and the Enchantress,

Loki, while sadly not voiced by Tom Hiddleston, is done well by Graham McTavish.  However, I do have to say that my adoration of the Enchantress' voice actress, Kari Wahlgren, continues to grow.  Out of all the voices, hers was the one that I think was the most well done.

Then again, it helps that she tends to play these kind of cold, sexy women.  A lot.

Anyway, these two villains have a plan to bring down Thor and Asgard, and it involves separating Bruce Banner from the Hulk, which anybody who's read the comics ahead of time knows is a bad idea, because the Hulk by itself tends to just be a mindless rage machine.  They send the greener half of Banner straight to Asgard's gates, where it sure enough starts punching and smashing its way through everything thrown at it.

There are a lot of characters brought into play in this, many more than in Hulk vs. Wolverine.  You have the Warriors Three, Sif, Balder, the Valkyries, frost giants, Hel, and many other players all dragged into this plot of Loki's, but you also learn a lot about them as the story continues.  In just a few short comments, you understand the entire dynamic between the Warriors Three, you understand why the Enchantress wants to see harm brought to Thor but doesn't want him killed, and many more characters all get their moment to shine.  I left knowing more about characters whose sole job was to show up and get punched out than I did any of the Weapon X characters.

However, there's more than simply being what professional wrestling calls a "jobber" to the Hulk.  Characters get great chances to hold their own against the mindless force and prove just how skilled the Asgardians are against, well, "normal" foes.  Against a beast who only gets angrier when it feels pain, and whose strength is tied to that anger, though, it's understandable how the Hulk is able to make his way through wave after wave of enemies.

Thor, especially, gets a good showing, much better than Wolverine did.  We see him use close and ranged attacks.  We see him bring everything that the "God of Thunder" would have in his arsenal against his opponents, something we really don't get to see often in books he shows up in because he'd tend to just steamroll over, say, the Masters of Evil and leave nothing for the others.

But back to my original point, the story doesn't just end with Thor and the Hulk squaring off again and leaving the whole thing unresolved.  We get a large twist in the story leading to a team-up between Loki and Thor, a trip to Hel, and some genuine character depth and emotion from Bruce Banner.  There are glimpses into Norse mythology dabbled between the combat scenes, and I found myself caring more for what was going on than I did in the other film.  When a piece of Asgardian architecture crumbled, I flinched because of how gorgeous the city looked at the beginning.

The voice acting is just as good, if not better in a lot of areas, as the last one.  Sure, there's no Nolan North, but Kari Wahlgren makes up for it.  The animation is just as clean but a lot more colorful (no long, gray corridors and the ground isn't all covered in snow), and the character designs, while a little bland for Thor, are made up for with the detail in the rest of the cast.

Plus, it's seven thousand times better than the last time the Hulk and Thor teamed up in a special.


So, overall, pick up the set of two films, get through the Wolverine one as quickly as you can (spoiler alert, there's a lot of stabbing), and get to the second.  It has plot twists, developed characters, and a complete story.

...I am left wondering why Odin couldn't use his power to help out Bruce Banner at the end, though.  Oh, well.

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