When Will Wolverine Fight The Hulk In The MCU?

Comic book rivalries are the stuff of legend: Batman vs. the Joker, Spider-Man vs. the Green Goblin, Superman vs. Lex Luthor — the list goes on. The hero-villain dynamic certainly isn't exclusive to comics, but what would any hero be without their villain? They mirror one another in interesting ways, bringing similarities and differences to light every time they come to blows or discuss their values.

Sometimes, however, heroes end up fighting other heroes instead of the baddies: Batman vs. Superman, Iron Man vs. Captain America, even Betty vs. Veronica (who aren't heroes in the traditional sense, but we'll give them a pass). These clashes are intriguing for much different reasons than when villains play a role, and are much sadder to witness. It's like watching two close friends duke it out.

Wolverine and the Hulk, though? Anyone would be hard-pressed to justify them being friends. They've met time and again over the years, and their rivalry is nearly as ferocious as the never-ending battle between DC and Marvel itself. That creates an entirely unique dynamic, almost placing their titanic battles in a genre of their own.

Hulk vs. Wolverine: A ferocious first impression

As many diehard Marvel fans know, Wolverine first appeared on the final page of 1974's The Incredible Hulk #180. It wasn't until the subsequent issue, however, that the adamantium-clawed mutant really made his Marvel debut.

The jolly green giant was tromping around Canada at the time, going blow-for-blow with Wendigo, a cursed, powerful monster straight out of folklore. Wolverine rudely interrupted the fight, attacking Wendigo after realizing his claws couldn't penetrate the Hulk's thick skin. This threw the big guy for a loop, but he shrugged it off and helped Wolverine finish the job against Wendigo. The moment Wendigo was down for the count, though, Wolverine started slicing at the Hulk yet again; only an external chemical attack brought about a ceasefire, knocking both opponents out.

Upon awakening, the two resumed their skirmish as if it'd never stopped in the first place. A glancing blow by the Hulk took Wolverine out for the time being, and thus the first of their many meetings came to an end. Interestingly, the story is revisited from Wolverine's perspective inWolverine: Origins #28, in which the mutant comments that fighting the Hulk is like "goin' toe-to-toe with a walkin' earthquake."

Hulk vs. Wolverine across time and space

Again and again, mutant claws met gamma-irradiated fists over the years. The circumstances of each fight differ, but the resentment of the heroes' first meeting never quite dissipated. Even across Marvel's many alternate timelines and universes, the two are rarely friends; it's always a case of the unstoppable force against the immovable object.

One of their most memorable scuffles took place in the Ultimate universe.. So epic is this particular battle that it has its own miniseries, appropriately dubbed Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk. Artist Lenil Francis Yu spares no expense in illustrating just how violent and gory such an encounter would really be, putting no damper on Wolverine's claws or the Hulk's strength. The latter tears the former in half at one point — and that isn't even the end of it.

An alternate version of Wolverine one-ups even that bloody affair in Old Man Logan, a primary inspiration for Hugh Jackman's final appearance as Wolverine in Logan. Supervillains have all but wiped out superheroes in this universe, the Hulk and Wolverine being some of the only remainders — though neither is much of a hero any more. Near story's end, Wolverine discovers that the Hulk killed his family, leading to one of their most emotionally-charged battles ever. The Hulk actually eats Wolverine, but he regenerates and rips the Hulk open from the inside out. Yuck.

Will Wolverine ever fight the Hulk on screen?

Some intense superhero melees have already played out on screen, the most prominent being Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War (which features a whole slew of heroes fighting, but is ultimately about Iron Man vs. Captain America). Yet aside from animated renditions of their eternal rivalry, Wolverine and the Hulk still haven't exchanged cinematic blows. Originally, this was because the X-Men existed in a separate movie universe than the Hulk, but since Disney's acquisition of Fox and full control over the Hulk franchise, anticipation and expectations have been building for the MCU to stage this battle once and for all.

It's not quite as simple as that. First and foremost, there's the issue of Hugh Jackman not planning to return to the role of Wolverine. He very much enjoyed his time slashing up the screen, but Jackman is more or less committed to sheathing his claws.

That doesn't inherently mean all hope is lost. Both Jackman and Hulk actor Mark Ruffalo have expressed interest in a film exclusively about a conflict between their respective characters. The former speaks purely from the perspective of an outsider, but Ruffalo is still the Hulk; he thinks such a film could both have the long-awaited fight and provide more backstory for the Hulk than he's gotten so far.

Once a new actor for Wolverine is chosen, though, how exactly will the battle come about? There are as many comics storylines from which to draw as there are stars in the sky, so it's a matter of choosing and adapting the ones best suited for an introductory bout. The Incredible Hulk #181 certainly works, though something like Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk would likely require an R rating, which Disney may be reluctant to greenlight. Deadpool knows all about that struggle.

Whenever and however it happens, it seems almost inevitable that it will happen. And who knows? Their rivalry may even be established over a series of multiple films. The MCU's had personalities clash before, and it can certainly be done again.