Marvel Entertainment certainly went all out for New York Comic Con this year. On top of bringing together the Defenders to announce Sigourney Weaver as their primary antagonist, having the cast of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ show off the latest episode, and unveiling a number of new comic-related things, the House of Ideas certainly brought out the big guns for True Believers in the Big Apple. But their programming slate also featured the world premiere of the brand new animated feature starring the Incredible Hulk titled ‘Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell,’ which is pretty perfect for Marvel fans of all ages at this time of the year.
Just in time for Halloween, the Jade Giant teams up with Doctor Strange and the Howling Commandos to take down an evil demon from another dimension that’s hell bent on taking over the world. But with the help of the Sorcerer Supreme and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s supernatural strikeforce, both sides of Dr. Bruce Banner have to reconcile their differences and join forces to keep some innocent dreamers from becoming dangerous monsters. Before we get into our review, you can check out a clip from the film right here:
The first thing that I noticed about this movie was that Banner had come to terms with being the Hulk. Looking back into my own childhood, I can recall nearly every animated depiction of the character saw him trying to cure himself of “the other guy”. But since Mark Ruffalo took over the role in ‘The Avengers’, it seems like acceptance has become a larger part of Bruce Banner’s status quo. Instead, there was a bigger focus on the Hulk accepting his less powerful side of himself factored into the story. That was a refreshing angle to explore, especially in this day and age where accepting one’s self is celebrated more than ever. It’s an excellently refreshing message to send viewers as Marvel continues to show that their heroes are as flawed as we are, which is what makes them so interesting in the first place.
Though the film did some interesting things with the main characters, I do wish that they spent a little more time with the secondary characters, especially the kids that fell under Nightmare’s control. They weren’t very established despite playing an integral part of the plot. At one point, we see that two of them know each other, but how? Sure, they likely all live in nearby neighborhoods, but New York is a big city and it’s hard to believe that the four seemingly random kids targeted by Nightmare would know each other. The story didn’t need to give them full on backstories or anything like that. The Howling Commandos didn’t get that and they were still fully realized people/characters/monsters.
As far as production value goes, the animation did a great job at manifesting all the stuff that Doctor Strange deals with on a daily basis. From the other dimensions to his spells, the artists captured the mystical side of the Marvel Universe in an interesting way. The voice cast (which has Fred Tatasciore and Liam O’Brien reprising their roles as Hulk and Strange) also stood out as exceptional, despite Matthew Waterson channeling a bit too much of Mark Hamill’s Joker for Nightmare.
But with all that being said, ‘Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell’ falls into the same vein as ‘Avengers Assemble’, ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’, and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ in the best possible way. It’s a lot of fun and action-packed, while being a bit edgier than what’s on TV so as to give older fans just as much reason to check it out with or without their little True Believers. I mean, it’s pretty great how lesser known characters from the Marvel catalog like Man-Thing, Warwolf, and Vampire By Night are prominently featured. No one would have seen that coming ten or even five years ago, right? Anyway, the movie is a solid Halloween cartoon overall, so pop it in while sorting through candy following your trick-or-treating adventure.
‘Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell’ featuring the voice talents of Fred Tatasciore, Liam O’Brien, Jesse Burch, Edward Bosco, Chiara Zanni, Mike Vaughn, Matthew Waterson, and Michael Robles premieres on October 21, 2016 on Digital HD.