The Incredible Hulk could have subtly laid the foundation for introducing Wolverine into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Disney/Fox acquisition is reaching its final stages now, with Disney currently expecting to have completed the purchase by June. When it's finally done, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four will be handed over to Marvel Studios. The Fantastic Four aren't too difficult to add to the MCU as it currently exists, but the X-Men franchise involves a lot of complicated concepts and ideas which will radically reshape the shared universe. Naturally, there's a lot of excitement about how this will be acheived, not least with the most popular mutant of all: Wolverine.
Created by Roy Thomas, Len Wein, and John Romita, Sr., Wolverine was first introduced as a Hulk enemy in The Incredible Hulk #180. Although it didn't take long for the Canucklehead to make his way over into the X-Men comics - complete with a minor change in mask design - Wolverine and the Hulk have had an antagonistic relationship ever since. The scraps between the two are legendary, with Wolverine's natural agility allowing him to dodge the Hulk's punches, his healing factor repairing the damage from any blows he's unable to avoid, and his adamantium claws even managing to pierce the Hulk's skin.
Given the strong connections between the Hulk and Wolverine, it's quite fitting that 2008's The Incredible Hulk is the Marvel film that subtly creates the opportunity for Marvel to introduce a comic-book-accurate version of Wolverine.
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The Incredible Hulk Establishes A History of Super Soldier Programs
The Incredible Hulk introduced viewers to General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross, the latest in a long line of US military leaders who'd been interested in resurrecting the Super Soldier program from World War II that transformed Steve Rogers into Captain America. As Captain America: The First Avenger revealed, Dr. Abraham Erskine, the only man who knew the process, was killed by a Hydra assassin and the secrets of "Bio-Tech Force Enhancement." were lost.
Ross had been keen to return to the idea, attempting to create more Super Soldiers with Bruce Banner's research into radiation resistance. Pushed by Ross, and determined to prove himself, Banner injected himself with a Gamma-based serum he had devised - and unwittingly transformed himself, becoming the Hulk. The novelization of The Incredible Hulk fleshes this out still further, hinting that there had been other super-soldier programs. In one key scene, Ross debriefed General Greller on the Hulk's origin.
""Banner's work was a tangent of Bio-Tech," said Ross after a moment's hesitation.
Greller didn't make the connection at first. Then, when he started to, he couldn't quite believe what Ross was saying. "You told me you were going to Brazil to nab a scientist. Are you telling me another one of your Super Soldier experiments went haywire?" When Ross nodded, Greller leaned back in his chair, amazed. "And you didn't think it was important enough to give me a heads-up?""
The clear implication is that Ross created other Super Soldiers, enhanced beings who went on some sort of rampage. That fits with the film itself, where Ross subjected Emil Blonsky to a Super Soldier serum that he'd managed to save from one of his projects, giving him resistance to the Hulk's attacks and abnormally high heart-rate. The novelization adds a little detail to Ross' thoughts at this point; "If Blonsky's body began to show the other properties associated with that machinelike heartbeat, then Ross knew that Blonsky would do far more than walk again. Far more." It seems Ross was actually familiar with test subjects who displayed a superhuman healing factor.
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- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019