We know that you’re excited to see Thor: Ragnarok when it hits theaters tomorrow (or tonight if you’re a gigantic nerd like we are and don’t have real things to do on Thirsty Thursday anymore), and you’re pumped to see that gladitorial showdown between the God of Thunder and the Incredible Hulk that’s been featured in all of the trailers.
Spoiler alert: It’s as good as you’ve heard, the fight itself and the movie overall, though you’ll be laughing a lot more than you might expect.
In honor of its release and in of the God for whom this very day, Thursday, was named, we thought we’d take you back to the first time that the two heroes traded blows in a live-action film. No, it’s not the brief fight they have in The Avengers, though that’s a pretty solid guess, and it’s also not technically a film that you could have seen in a movie theater, as it comes from a TV movie that aired on NBC back in 1988. That’s right, the two sparred for the first time in The Incredible Hulk Returns, a spin-off of the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno TV show (you know, the one that came up with a thousand different bizarre reasons for “David” Banner to get angry) that shot the character to the heights of the national consciousness.
Here’s their first fight:
So, all of this is brilliantly cheesy and lovely in that late-’80s way, and we highly recommend seeking out the full feature if you can stand it. But it’s not as interesting as what could have come from this pairing.
If you’re curious as to who the dorky guy next to Thor is, that would be Donald Blake, who, in the comics, was originally Thor’s human alter-ego, who found Mjolnir in a cave and was bound to the hero from then on (basically they swapped bodies in order to fight crime, with Mjolnir camouflaging itself as Blake’s walking stick when the good doctor was attending to patients).
Marvel would later on ditch Blake’s identity all together and would just have our boy Thor be a regular old human being in the MCU, but at the time, The Incredible Hulk Returns was intended to be a backdoor pilot for a potential Thor television series, and Marvel wanted a similar hook to Hulk’s in order to give the show a narrative framework. So this time, the immortal Norse warrior Thor (he’s not technically the God of Thunder here) would be paired with Blake, who found a magical hammer on his travels and was basically given the Viking as a liege, so that the immortal warrior could eventually gain entry into the mead halls of Valhalla.
It’s a bit much, but it probably would have made for some seriously entertaining television if they’d kept the casting from this TV movie if the show had gone to series. Steve Levitt, playing Blake, and Eric Kramer, playing Thor, have pretty good chemistry, and Kramer especially is a goddamn riot. Take a look at this scene in which he scares the hell out of one of the Hulk’s series regulars:
We don’t know about you, but we’d have gladly watched a full 20-episode season of that.
Featured image via MoviestillsDB. Yes, that is Stan Lee.