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Hulk

Review – Marvel Legends – Gladiator Hulk Wave – Loki

Apparently, in order to get a proper figure, the Loki had to turn into the Hero.  Ok, I have not seen Ragnarok, but it sort of feels like Loki was working with his brother again in a few spots int he Trailer.  Maybe I’m completely misreading it.  Also, that low blow probably isn’t warranted since Hasbro has been pushing out a lot more figures of MCU villains lately.  We get Hela in this very wave, Vulture was a pretty cool Build A Figure, and even Ego got a figure.  Maybe the voice of the people is finally being heard, maybe they will go back and pick up Trevor or Ronin.

Anyway, there was a figure released years ago for Avengers of Loki but it was kind of mediocre and the likeness wasn’t super good.  Thor Ragnarok is getting pretty good treatment for a movie line, a few new Thors, Hela, Valyrie, the new Gladiator Thor, and of course Loki.  He definitely has a better likeness from the previous Loki, Hasbro is doing something new with it’s movie lines because all of the heads are looking really good lately, with a good resemblance to the actors.  He’s not wearing his older gold armor anymore, so he’s not necessarily a great straight replacement for Avengers Loki, depending on what you want from an MCU Loki.  The new armor is still pretty decent and matches his new look for the new movie.

It’s not perfect though.  His cape is really funky.  A lot of the capes in Marvel Legends are kind of meh, but they tend to at least stay attached.  Traditionally there’s a peg hole in the figure’s back and a post on the cape, and you just stick the cape on.  Often there are little shoulder bits that curl around and provide at least a little bit of friction based hold to keep the cape attached.  Loki does something new.  Instead his cape has a pair of pegs on the shoulder bits.  In theory this actually kind of makes things look cleaner.

Except the pegs are a pain in the ass to get into the peg holes and don’t stay in the holes very well at all.  This isn’t helped by his hair getting in the way at every opportunity.  So the cape at best kind of looks off because it isn’t pegged in properly.

The other problem with poor Loki is that he has no accessories apart from his crown.  A couple of knives, maybe his staff, even though he doesn’t have it anymore, some sort of weapon would have been nice.  Especially since every other figure in this wave got something.  Things have been getting better on the accessories front with Marvel Legends, which is why it’s so disappointing that Loki has nothing.

Loki, as a basic figure isn’t a bad figure, he looks good, the sculpt is there and the paint is there and he is a character desperately in need of an update, but he ends up catching a couple of the traps that Marvel Legends have been plagued with on the way.

 

Review – Movie – The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Spoiler Free Thoughts and Review

The Incredible Hulk seems to be a really hard hero to get right for movies.  He’s had a few of them and even a live action TV series in the 80s.  The Incredible Hulk is sort of the redheaded stepchild of the MCU.  It came out just after Iron Man.  It’s technically sort of part of the MCU, but no one really remembers or cares that it’s part of the MCU.  Part of this confusion is the change in actors from the movie and his next appearance in The Avengers.  They traded out Edward Norton for Mark Ruffalo.  This particular movie also exists in a weird space since it’s technically a sequel to the 2003 Ang Lee film simply called Hulk.  The rumors and stories I’ve read are that Norton was kind of a bear to work with on the whole thing and had a hand in altering a lot of the script until it was much less of a sequel and more of a reboot.  It doesn’t really directly contradict Ang Lee’s Hulk, but it doesn’t reference it either.  This is also part of why they dropped Norton for Ruffalo.

A lot of the problem with Hulk is that the exciting part, IE the big green monster, is boring and hard from a story perspective.  He’s not really a hero, he doesn’t really go around saving people really, he just gets mad and rages, and hopefully he’s raging against someone more evil than he is.  The part that works for the story, Bruce Banner, is kind of boring from a movie perspective.  It’s not super easy to depict “inner turmoil” on screen, which is part of what makes the Hulk and Banner who they are.

This film also is treated by the greater MCU the same way it treats it’s Ang Lee predecessor.  It’s not really acknowledge, it’s not really rejected.  It does seem to be kind of a goto reference for the TV MCU though.  Ironic since the TV MCU is also ignored by the movies.  Daredevil and Iron Fist make references to the final battle in Harlem, Agents of SHIELD makes references to Emil Blonsky a few times.

It’s an alright film, but I kind of prefer the Ang Lee vision of Hulk and frankly, I don’t really like Edward Norton as Banner.

Synopsis and Spoilers

The plot starts off with Banner working and hiding in Mexico, working at a soda bottling plant.  He’s communicating with Samuel Sterns, a scientist in the states, anonymously working to find a cure for his Hulkness.  During an accident, he accidentally cuts himself and some of his blood lands in one of the sodas which ends up giving Gamma Poisoning to poor Stan Lee.  This leads the military to Banner’s location.  They recruit special forces agent Emil Blonsky to head in and capture Banner.  After some Fitbit advertisements where Banner’s heart rate keeps increasing during his escape from the military, he finally Hulks out and battles it out with the soldiers before making his escape.

Jealous of the Hulk’s power, Blonsky gets injected with some experimental super soldier serum to help beef himself up and help him go up against the unstoppable force that is The Hulk.  Banner returns to the states to meet up with his old girlfriend Betty Ross, daughter of General Ross, who is leading the military charge against him.  Bruce wants to recover the data from the original experiment that transformed him into The Hulk to better help Dr. Sterns  find a cure.  Unfortunately for Banner, the Military has been alerted to his presence.  Hulk rears his raging face again and makes short work of the military forces, including Blonsky, despite his newfound strength.  Hulk flees with Betty after The Hulk “kills” Blonsky.

Bruce and Betty finally meet up with Samuel Sterns, who was able to formulate a cure, but possibly a faulty cure.  They administer the cure to Banner and afterwards General Ross, Blonsky and the military show up yet again and take Banner into custody.  After Ross heads out with Banner, Blonsky forces Dr. Stern to inject him with Banner’s blood.  The super soldier serum and the Hulk blood have a negative interaction and Blonsky is transformed into the classic Hulk nemesis, Abomination, who starts rampaging through Harlem.  General Ross agrees to let Banner go because the Hulk is the only one who can stop The Abomination.  After the two brutes trash out the city, prompting Wilson Fisk to leverage his power to rebuild things in his vision for control (no wait, wrong show), The Abomination is defeated and things come to a close.

Banner is later shown to be living in seclusion again and Tony Stark shows up to talk to General Ross in vague terms about the Avengers.

How it’s Connected

Aside from Robert Downy Jr’s cameo at the end, there’s not a whole lot else that comes up later.  There aren’t any references to The Absorbing Man in the first movie, there aren’t any Infinity Stones or much SHIELD even.  The events that take place in Harlem are mentioned in the Netflix Defenders shows some, primarily because those shows mostly take place in and around Harlem.  Though I find it kind of odd that the major event everyone talks about is Hulk and not, you know, the literal alien invasion and Avengers.  The Super Soldier serum theme is here, that of course relates to Captain America, Agent Carter, and a few bits in Agents of SHIELD.

Thoughts on What’s Next

There hasn’t been a straight followup for The Hulk, he shows up again in the later Avengers films and the upcoming Thor Ragnarok, but nothing new in terms of a solo film.  There is/was clearly some plan though, during the scene when Samuel Sterns turns Blonsky into the Abomination, he too gets infected by the Hulk Blood and his head starts mutating.  In the comics, Samuel Sterns is a smart dude with a big head villain named Leader.  Someone was pushing for this angle, though at this point it’s clearly gone nowhere.

Final Notes

The Incredible Hulk is an ok though pretty forgettable part of the greater MCU.  It’s not an awful movie, it just sort of, is.  Hulk is just sort of a hard guy to really do justice in film.

Review – Marvel Select – Age of Ultron Hulk

As part of my quest to assemble a really solid set of MCU figures, I found that I was really wanting for a Good Hulk figure.  The Marvel Legends version is pretty small and kind of all smooth and wimpy looking.  The Figuarts Hulk kind of suffers from the same issues to a worse degree.  Enter Marvel Select.  Marvel Select is a separate Marvel line from Marvel Legends, that tends to be more available in specialty shops and is put out by Diamond Distributing.  The main difference between Marvel Legends and Marvel Select, is the scale, which runs in the 7″ range as opposed to ML’s 6″ range.  The Marvel Select figures also tent to have slightly more limited articulation, but better sculpts.  The larger scale means a lot of the “normal” character don’t fit in with Marvel Legends at all.  I have the Hawkeye MS, which is a great figure, but he’s be 8 foot tall in the ML world.  Figures like The Hulk however, who are ambiguously large, work really well along side Marvel Legends figures.

Which is why I picked up the marvel Select Age of Ultron Hulk, as my Hulk.  There are several different Hulks int he MS line, this one is specifically “from” Age of Ultron, though it’s a repaint of the earlier MS Avengers Hulk.  I find that the paint apps on this release to be superior to the original version,  the pants are a different color and there is a lot more shady sort of detail going on.

The sculpt is also really nice which is a lot of the reason I wanted this Hulk over the Marvel Legends Hulk.  He’s got a lot of nice veiny angry detail going on all over his body and the face as a particularly great grimace going on.  The joints used on the Marvel Select can both work in favor and against the sculpt, when in their resting postitions, everything looks nice and smooth, but when out of position they do look a little ugly.  Mostly this is an issue in the legs.

The other primary driver was the sheer size of this Hulk.  He towers over the Marvel Legends characters.  His massive size makes him perfect to face off against the Marvel Legends Hulkbuster BAF from Age of Ultron as well.  He’s also very solid, you can definitely feel the weight when posing and moving the figure, which really helps with stability when posting.

The posing is pretty good, though as I said, ML does have some limitations on it’s joints.  I’m generally not a fan of the sort of hips used in this line, DC uses it on almost all of it’s figures, and it usually looks ugly as hell.  On a larger character like Hulk, it works pretty well however, and it a bit less noticeable.  The range on the elbows and knees isn’t amazing, he isn’t going to be kneeling very well anytime soon.

If you’re looking for a good solid Movie Hulk, the Marvel Select is definitely the way to go.  The best part is that the Marvel Select line isn’t really that much more expensive than their mass released Marvel Legends counterparts, especially given how much larger and better painted they are.  The Age of Ultron version is harder to find at the moment but I can’t imagine it won’t get a figure re-release for Infinity War.  Also, just to beat a dead horse, this kind of touches on my wish that Marvel Legends would ditch the BAF gimmick and just make nicer figures.