In the recent trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, fans glimpsed briefly a giant monster fighting in a tournament. Against Doctor Strange’s Wong, Kevin Feige confirmed. Although it was a “blink and ya miss it” moment. However, it certainly looks like that big bruiser is none other than the Hulk villain the Abomination. In fact, subtitles confirm that despite a design change that is more in line with the comics, that is indeed Banner’s nemesis from The Incredible Hulk film.
Abomination’s MCU Origins
Of course, it’s been a hot minute since The Incredible Hulk came out. 2008 in fact, right after the first Iron Man film. So you may not remember the Abomination’s backstory. Played by Tim Roth, Captain Emil Blonsky was a government guinea pig for a knock-off version of the super-soldier serum. Yes, the same serum that gave Captain America his powers, and which caused so much strife in the recent The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series. The MCU Blonsky was a Russian-born British Royal Marine, on loan to the United States military. He volunteers to be a test subject in creating a soldier who can fight and capture the Hulk.
As the character of Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt) explains in the film, the U.S. government had been trying to recreate the serum ever since losing Steve Rogers at the end of World War II. But almost all attempts to replicate it had come with horrible results. The serum Ross used had some unexpected side effects after Emil Blonsky combined it with some of Bruce Banner’s gamma-irradiated blood. The result was the monstrous creature dubbed the Abomination. Hulk beat Blonsky in the big last battle. And last we heard, the government took him into custody. In over twenty subsequent MCU films, he is not seen or heard from ever again.
Marvel Comics’ Cold War Monster
In the pages of Marvel Comics, the Abomination has a pretty similar origin story. There, he was a Soviet Yugoslavian spy, who worked for the KGB, Many a Marvel villain of this era tied into the Cold War and the Soviet Union. And Blonsky first appeared in 1967, at the peak of U.S/Soviet tensions. The Abomination gained his powers after receiving a dose of gamma radiation almost identical to that which transformed Bruce Banner into the Hulk. Only in the comics, there was no mention of the Super-Soldier serum’s involvement. Blonsky also had a wife named Nadia, another stark difference from the MCU version.
But the biggest difference between comics Abomination and MCU Abomination is in appearance. The design for the comic book version is much more scaly and reptilian, with two big prominent ears. The MCU version was almost a complete redesign. They kept the big bulky frame, and that is pretty much it. But as we can see from the Shang-Chi trailer, the new MCU Abomination looks much more like his comic book counterpart. Which is making Marvel fans thrilled. Because who doesn’t love those big goofy ears?
Blonsky’s Unexpected Return
It’s unknown how they will explain Blonsky’s change in appearance. They might not even bother to explain it. After all, the Hulk design is pretty different between The Incredible Hulk and Avengers. You can just chalk it up to continual mutation because of the gamma radiation. Whatever explanation works for Banner can work for Blonsky too. It will no doubt interest MCU fans to see if they will explain why Blonsky isn’t in government custody, and how he got away to go fight in super-powered tournaments.
Aside from Shang-Chi, the Abomination will also return in the She-Hulk series for Disney+. Tim Roth is reprising the role for the upcoming show, but it’s unclear if he will provide motion capture for the Abomination we see in Shang-Chi. Here’s hoping this all leads to a rematch between Blonsky and the Hulk. It’s only been 13 years in the making!