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Abomination: Everything To Remember About Tim Roth's Incredible Hulk Character Ahead Of Shang-Chi

Tim Roth as Abomination in The Incredible Hulk

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I used to assume there was some unspoken understanding that the Marvel movies no longer officially included The Incredible Hulk as canon, especially with the pre-Mark Ruffalo Edward Norton in the role and the movie's absence from Disney+ (which I realize is actually due to licensing). However, the trailer of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings appears to have proved me wrong by teasing the return of Abomination - the alter ego of Tim Roth’s character in the 2008 solo film, Emil Blonsky, who is also confirmed to appear on She-Hulk in 2022. When exciting news regarding upcoming superhero movies and upcoming Marvel TV shows like this comes out, that means it is time to take a look back on a character’s history. Let’s start from the very beginning of how this Abomination came to be.

Tim Roth and William Hurt in The Incredible Hulk

Emil Blonsky Was Recruited By Thunderbolt Ross To Hunt Bruce Banner

Created by Stan Lee and Gil Kane, Emil Blonsky was originally depicted as a KGB agent in his 1967 Marvel comics debut in Tales to Astonish #90. However, with The Incredible Hulk’s post-Cold War setting and the casting of British Pulp Fiction cast alum Tim Roth, he was changed from a Russian spy to a soldier born in Russia, but raised in England and one of the fiercest warriors the Royal Marines of the British Armed Forces would ever see.

Emil Blonsky’s reputation got him hired to go after Bruce Banner by Lt. Gen. Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt), who failed to mention the scientist’s tendency to transform into a giant, green behemoth when his mood is tested. Blonsky found himself both defeated, but also fascinated by the Hulk, convincing the aging fighter (who still had no interest up being promoted to a higher military rank) to seek a genetic enhancement of his own. Thunderbolt had just the thing to help.

Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky in The Incredible Hulk

Blonsky Became A Super Soldier To Hunt The Hulk

In the comics, Emil Blonsky becomes Abomination when he gets too close the gamma ray technology the KGB assigned him to spy on. What initially sparks his transformation in The Incredible Hulk is Thunderbolt Ross’ mention of the “Super Soldier Serum” first developed during War World II (a subtle set-up for 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, we could assume).

Emil Blonsky willfully receives the Super Soldier Serum, including one particularly painful injection in the marrow of his spine. This would allow him to run faster, jump higher, and show-off some kick-ass reflexes when vengefully facing off against the Hulk outside of Culver University, which ended with him in a comatose state in the hospital where his quick healing factor came in handy. However, being superhuman was not enough for Blonsky who really wanted to be another step above it. To be more precise, he wanted to be like the Hulk. Dr. Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson, a veteran of many comic book adaptations) had just the thing to help.

Tim Blake Nelson in The Incredible Hulk

A Dose Of Bruce Banner’s Blood Made Blonsky… An Abomination

Already undergoing some ghastly mutations after his second dose of the Super Soldier Serum (such as a protrusive, stegosaurus-like spine), Emil Blonsky was not satisfied with the “monster” he had already said he felt like. Thus he tracked down Dr. Samuel Sterns - a cellular biologist who developed synthesized copies of Bruce Banner blood while trying to cure him, which Blonsky said he wanted running through his veins. Sterns gave in to the soldier’s demands, which turned him into the “abomination” he warned he might become.

Becoming Abomination made Emily Blonsky faster than he his in superhuman form, strong enough to toss cars around, durable enough to withstand explosions and gunfire at close range, and larger and much more intelligent than a Hulked out Bruce Banner. Not to mention, the retractable spikes lining his spine are pretty badass. His weakness, however, was a god complex that fueled his destructive rampage through the streets of Harlem, which Hulk was not going to let go any further.

Tim Roth and Edward Norton in The Incredible Hulk

Hulk Defeated Abomination, Who Was Put Into A Holding Cell

Hulk would come out on top by the end of his violent duel with Abomination, who was then taken into custody and held in a cryo-cell located in Barrow, Alaska known as “The Vault.” However, as the three-and-a-half-minute Marvel One-Shot The Consultant reveals, the World Security Council wanted to pin the destruction on Bruce Banner and paint Emil Blonsky as self-defense and choose him as the muscle for the Avenger Initiative.

At a diner, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his colleague Jasper Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernandez) would concoct a scheme to convince Thunderbolt Ross not to allow Abomination to become an Avenger by sending in a “consultant” who will irritate him enough to reconsider. This leads into a clip from the post-credits scene from The Incredible Hulk in which Ross is visited at a bar by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). We cut to the following day when Coulson tells Sitwell that the mission was a success, ensuring that Emil Blonsky will stay in prison.

Tim Roth and Benedict Wong in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Some Theorize The Snap Allowed Abomination To Escape Captivity

Of course, this raises the question: how is it possible that Emil Blonsky is seen in the Shang-Chi trailer in a cage match with Wong? In fact, on that note, why (and how) the hell is Benedict Wong’s Doctor Strange character in a cage match with Abomination? Well, as is common with any new question regarding the Marvel Cinematic Universe, some fans have conjured up a theory, and it is not a bad one.

It is possible that Thanos’ Decimation allowed Abomination to escape his cell and the ensuing chaos affecting the world gave him the opportunity to become a prize fighter of sorts. This theory suggests that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is another film that does not follow the events of the Marvel movies in order and may take place between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. I suppose we can also speculate that Wong needed a job after his boss was dusted and there was an opening for fighting genetically engineered mutants.

Knowing what we know about Tim Roth’s return as Emil Blonsky in She-Hulk, for which it is also confirmed that Mark Ruffalo is reprising Bruce Banner, it appears that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (set to come out in theaters on Friday, September 3, 2021) will also provide us with some set-up for what is to come in the highly anticipated Disney+ series. Sounds like we are in for quite an abomination.

Jason Wiese

Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.