Even though it's been a good while since the first official trailer for [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409) dropped, it doesn't mean we've gotten any less excited about the upcoming Marvel extravaganza. And in case you've somehow missed it, here it is again just for good measure:
So, let's talk villains for a second. As in the comic books, the Civil War trailer doesn't really appear to present a clearly defined villain. We barely see any of Frank Grillo as Crossbones / Brock Rumlow, and there's no sign of Daniel Brühl's Baron Zemo as of yet.
But this makes sense given that Civil War is more concerned with how a hero group splits along personal and ideological lines instead of rallying together to punch big bad aliens in the face (though we're on board with that too).
And there is one familiar face showing up who may still help to fill out the villain sphere. Someone who not only identifies as a figurehead for the Governmental Accords but also is returning from the very beginnings of the Marvel Cinematic Universe...
General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross
Yep, so I guess it's a good thing Hulk / Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) isn't still kicking about with the Avengers because William Hurt is back as General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross; father of Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) and nemesis of her ill-fated love, Bruce Banner.
Last seen in The Incredible Hulk (when Banner was played by Edward Norton and it was a strange time for all of us) Ross is the one pushing the new regulations upon Captain America (Chris Evans) and the rest of the Avengers. He's the one addressing Steve Rogers — accusing him of being a "vigilante," not a hero.
But Ross ain't exactly doing this out of an objective sense of justice, he's clearly got it out for superheroes in general. Indeed, co-director Joe Russo describes him as having "a fanatical anti-superhero point of view":
Joe Russo: "We thought it would be interesting to take a character who had a fanatical anti-superhero point of view. Now he’s become much savvier and more political and has put himself in a position of power, not unlike a Colin Powell. He’s cornering the Avengers politically now, he’s out-manoeuvring them."
Politics, apparently, is the Avengers' one weakness. But ever since it was announced that General Ross would be returning speculation has abounded that he'd have a bigger role than just the figurehead for the Accords, could this be a sideline to introducing the fearsome Red Hulk in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Who's Red Hulk Then?
Red Hulk (in case you're not a comic reader) is the alter-ego of General Ross in the same way that Hulk is the other side of Banner. Except he's red. See where the clever name came from?
Initially introduced as a mysterious antagonist back in 2008, the extremely aggressive Red Hulk is a very new character in the comic canon — being introduced less than a decade ago — whereas Hulk himself has been kicking around since the early 1960s.
As part of his fanatical pursuit of the Hulk, General Ross undergoes a Super Soldier procedure to transform himself into a creature the equal of Hulk — the Red Hulk.
He's pretty antagonistic to begin with — killing off various characters such as Doctor Strange (don't worry, he comes back) and nicking the Silver Surfer's board (see below) — but he eventually joins up with the Avengers after playing a big part in 2010's Infinity Gem crisis.
Perhaps partly due to his role in the Infinity Gem story-arc many fans expected to see Red Hulk appearing in Civil War as a set up to [The Avengers: Infinity War](tag:738027), but those speculations have been officially dashed now thanks to one of the directors, Joe Russo:
"There’s always a chance at Marvel that you can see anything... But there - uh - let's say there is no Red Hulk in Civil War."
It Makes Sense Though...
When Red Hulk was introduced it took two years for his true identity to be revealed (General Ross was thought dead at the hands of the Red Hulk the time) and that facet formed a big part of the Red Hulk's character in his early days. So it probably would be a little premature to jump straight into Red Hulk without really first establishing General Ross in relation to Banner / Hulk (who we aren't seeing again until [Thor: Ragnarok](tag:956858) in 2017).
Though he's certainly marketable, Hulk is never really pushed to the forefront of the Avengers team in the films. General Ross's transformation into Red Hulk is affecting because it's triggered by years of obsessive, personal hatred towards Banner / Hulk and a decline in his own mental stability as a result. There's not really the same background been built up between them here, not to mention trying to work that narrative into the already overstuffed Captain America: Civil War.
Add to that the fact that Ross's nemesis isn't even appearing in Civil War and you remove the catalyst for this transformation (unless of course it happened prior to Civil War, but still). While Ross seems to still dislike superheroes in general it's unlikely that he'll have the same personal hatred towards, say, Captain America as he does towards Banner.
On the other hand, seeing Ross transform into Red Hulk would make a great post-credits sequence, wouldn't it?