- The Incredible Hulk’s design of the Abomination omitted his pointy ears to make his battle with the Hulk more believable, as the Hulk would supposedly bite them off.
- Director Louis Leterrier wanted to avoid fans questioning the Hulk’s refusal to bite the Abomination’s ears and felt it would give the Hulk a quick advantage.
- The Abomination’s comic-accurate ears eventually returned in later MCU appearances, but their absence in The Incredible Hulk adds a bit of humor to his origin story.
The Incredible Hulk‘s design of the monstrous villain the Abomination has an unusual backstory. The Incredible Hulk was first released on June 13, 2008, as the second chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, following hot on the heels of the success of Iron Man just six weeks earlier. Edward Norton portrays Dr. Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk, though Norton and Marvel would fail to come to an agreement on his future in the MCU, leading to Mark Ruffalo playing Banner in The Avengers and all of Banner’s subsequent MCU entries.
While The Incredible Hulk would fall by the MCU’s wayside, the movie would gradually become more of a pillar in the franchise, starting with William Hurt’s return as General Ross in Captain America: Civil War. The Incredible Hulk‘s villain Emil Blonsky a.k.a. the Abomination (Tim Roth), has also returned in MCU installments like Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and She-Hulk, though he would undergo a design makeover in both. As it turns out, the Abomination would also have one key feature from the comics re-designed in The Incredible Hulk.
Abomination Didn’t Have Pointy Ears Because Hulk Would Bite Them Off
While The Abomination bears a pair of pointy ears in the comics, his design in The Incredible Hulk omits his trademark ears with the aim of making his battle royale with the Hulk more believable. Per director Louis Leterrier in an interview, he felt that “the Hulk would take the ears and just rip them off,” likening this strategy to Mike Tyson biting off a chunk of Evander Hollifield’s ear in their title fight. With Letterier reasoning that the Hulk would easily triumph over the Abomination by ripping off his ears, “and that’s the end of the movie,” this led to the Abomination’s ears being removed from the film design.
It seems a bit odd that such a specific worry would lead to a change in character design, but Leterrier seems convinced that fans would notice and question Hulk’s refusal to bite Abomination’s ears. In addition to Leterrier’s concerns about Hulk earning a quick advantage, it may simply have been too graphic for the MCU’s second film. While The Incredible Hulk is an intense superhero movie, the Hulk biting off the Abomination’s ears may have seemed too graphic, though it obviously didn’t have to be in the movie if the villains original design were to have been used.
Why Abomination Got His Classic Design Back
After The Incredible Hulk, it took 13 years for Abomination to return to the MCU with his cameo fighting Wong (Benedict Wong) in a cage fight in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. In both Shang-Chi and his later appearance in She-Hulk, the Abomination has his comic-accurate ears, but their inclusion is not that big of a deal. With the Abomination having been absent from the MCU for so long, his ears could easily be explained away as a mutation that had occurred in the interim between The Incredible Hulk and Shang-Chi.
Moreover, the extended time span between the Abomination’s first and second MCU appearances means that few viewers would likely be inclined to be bothered by the addition of his pointy ears. Indeed, some might arguably have even welcomed the re-integration of one of his signature comic book features. Still, the lack of the Abomination’s ears in The Incredible Hulk makes his MCU origin story a bit funnier than that of most of its heroes and villains.