We all love a good versus fight - from Mortal Kombat to Super Smash Bros. Melee, there is nothing better than seeing two of your favorite characters duke it out on screen. The MCU is no exception, with this year's Captain America: Civil War arguably being one big battle. With most of the Avengers 'all duked out', there must be something more on the horizon though? Enter the 2012 comic-series Avengers vs. X-Men, which even already has its own fan trailer. The story opens a whole world of opportunities in cinema for Xavier's mutants to take on the mighty Avengers. If so, there would only be one battle that everyone would be talking about - Hulk vs Wolverine!
Back in 2014 Hugh Jackman said he was more than open to the two butting heads, but is this just a pipe dream? Sure we had the animated Hulk vs. Wolverine, but we demand more, goddamit! Somewhere between being steam-rollered and having his exoskeleton torn out, we forget (quite literally) Wolverine's biggest foe. We have seen the mean Green Fighting Machine go up against the Clawed Canadian a lot in their 54 years together - so this is their story.
1. Setting The (Green) Scene
Let's go back to the start...after appearing in the last panel of "The Incredible Hulk #180", Wolverine was keen to make a bold first impression, and boy did he in "The Incredible Hulk #181". Wolverine was working for the Canadian government as the pair teamed up to take on the cannibalistic Wendingo. Wolverine made light work of the Wendingo and sliced him faster than a sushi roll. Hulk decided the "enemy of my enemy is also my friend" and it looked like the start of a beautiful friendship for Hulk and Wolverine. Any thoughts of friendship were abruptly dashed when Hulk had a change of heart and knocked ten bells out of Wolverine! Painted originally as a villain, Wolverine was heavily hyped in the ads for "Hulk #181" - little did we know about his lasting impression.
Whilst he definitely isn't the most dangerous new super-villain ever, he isn't a hero either. From the star, Logan was the gruff anti-hero we have come to love! Rumors circled that Wolverine was originally meant to be a werewolf-esque creature who could transform from a real Wolverine, something co-creator Len Wein is none too happy about. Responding on his own blog, Wein wrote:
While I readily admit that my original idea was for Wolvie's claws to extend from the backs of his gloves ... I absolutely did not ever intend to make Logan a mutated wolverine...The mutated wolverine thing came about long after I was no longer involved with the book.
The berserker rage of this rumor still pesters Wein to this day!
2. A Kick In The Guts
1988 was not only the year that Wolverine began his very-own ongoing series, but it was also the year that brought us the iconic comic book cover from "Incredible Hulk #340". So, 160 issues after they first met, is there still bad blood? The answer is yes...and it is green! As Hulk accidentally downs a plane, it is saved by Rogue from the X-Men, sparking Wolverine to open up old wounds and take on the Green (Grey) Giant. Apart from Todd McFarlane's stellar artwork, what makes this issue more important is Wolverine actually has the upper-hand...for a while. Round 1 left Hulk's guts spilled on the floor, but thanks to his regeneration powers, he got up for more. Clay Quartermain came and crashed the party, splitting the two up before we ever got Round 2 - what a party pooper!
3. 'Claws' For Thought
What are Wolverine's claws actually made of? Well if you are going off 1999's "Incredible Hulk #8", it would appear Twiglets! Adding the list of Wolverine's biggest ouchies, we pick up the story of an Adamantium-less Logan after Magneto tore out his skeleton during the "Fatal Attractions" storyline. Foolishly, Logan decides this would be a good time to once again take on the Emerald King. A bone-clawed Wolverine had previously taken on Hulk in "The Incredible Hulk #454", but this time he has learnt a thing or two. Wolverine manages to poke out Banner's eyes, in an epic Kill Bill moment, but Hulk gets his revenge by stomping his claws to dust! We later learn that Hulk was actually fighting a Skrull Wolverine, but we will let that one slide because it was an epic beat-em-up.
4. X-Actly What You Deserve
Away from your typical punch-ups, you need to take in the many alternative realities and 'What If?' scenarios. Enter World War Hulk, a dystopian mini-series which has Hulk returned from his exile in space to research Prof. X's involvement with the Illuminati. A showdown at the mansion results in a Battle Royale of Hulk vs. mutants and Wolverine once again steps up to the plate. A nod to the injuries sustained by boxers, Hulk rattles Wolverine's brain around in his skull to cause concussion, in a rather scientific way to defeat the beast. This wasn't enough though, an armor-clad Hulk then knocks Wolverine clean out of the X-Mansion like a baseball and moves onto the rest of the team.
5. For Old Time's Sake
Once the rumored (we wish) storyline for Wolverine 3, Old Man Logan is arguably the only time we have ever seen Wolverine defeat Hulk...I know, who knew it was even possible? We challenge you to find a better image than an aged Wolverine bursting out of apocalyptic Hulk's body! The Hulk/Banner we have is a Thor-murdering monster, which some say was created created when the radiation finally wormed its way inside Bruce's skull. After the massacre of superheroes, Banner marries She-Hulk and they have generations of children known as the Hulk Gang. Wolverine owed rent to Hulk's offspring and Banner killed off Wolverine's family, which set this battle in motion. In a Kill Bill fashion, Wolves kills off the Banners one by one, before confronting the big man himself. Hulk confesses that he wanted a fight like their "old days", and boy do we get one! Being devoured by Banner, Logan heals in his stomach before bursting out in full Little Red Riding Hood style - someone pass the indigestion tablets!
6. A Battle Of Two Halves
Finally, there is no way that you an cover a HvW article without touching on the incredible storyline which left Logan torn in two for THREE years. Set between "Ultimate X-Men issue 69 and 71" and "Ultimates 2 #11", the Ultimate Wolverine vs Hulk series was penned by LOST's Damon Lindelof (hence the mystery). The plot sees Nick Fury recruit Wolverine to assassinate Hulk in Tibet and the two come to blows. With two issues under their belt, the creative team took a rather unsolicited break with no explanation, which grew and grew from 2006-2009. Banner literally tears Logan in half and leaves him for dead (for three years technically). When the series picks back up Wolverine is alive and well - being a keen Canadian tracker, drags his intestinal tract up a mountain and goes on to find Hulk. Filled with beautifully gory artwork, the introduction of She-Hulk and an ending that is well worth the wait, Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk may just be their greatest showdown ever!
7. Throwing Down The Gauntlet
I isn't all Doctor Doom and gloom though. During "Infinity Gauntlet #3" the pair share a rare moment of clarity on a rooftop. Whilst the rest of the world is caught up in the hype of Thanos, Wolverine and Hulk take a moment out to reflect on their bloody history together. Unfortunately the truce never gets a chance to reach its full potential as Wolverine soon has his skeleton obliterated by Thanos! Don't worry, it was one of those typical short-lived Wolvey deaths, and he would go on to chop off Thanos's arm eventually.
So, will the two ever be able to truly bury the hatchet? We hope not! Torn ribs, destroyed bone claws and K.O hits give us some of the best battles that Marvel has to offer. Every battle still begs the question, "Can Wolverine actually ever beat Hulk?". We would guess not! Apart from the alternative future of chest-busting, Wolves gets his ass handed to him on every single occasion. In Wolverine (3rd series) #50 he even states how crazy he must have been to ever think he could take on Hulk, but this has never stopped him before. There are only so many times that the two can face-off, so what is next? Marvel is currently in talks to do an Avengers/X-Men crossover, but I wouldn't hold your breath! What we are much more likely to see first is a Legacy Heroes Showdown. Could the comics be about to give us another ultimate showdown, and will Amadeus Cho face off against Laura Kinney? Here's hoping, bub!
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[Title image by arfel1989]