Back in 2008, when Iron Man was released, The Incredible Hulk was another Marvel movie that came out the same year. While Iron Man is credited with kickstarting the MCU, the solo Hulk movie is generally considered its own separate affair. But a recent easter egg featured in The Incredible Hulk that was unearthed by Reddit user JoJosapiens reveals that the movie was hiding a connection to Captain America in plain sight.
"In The Incredible Hulk (2008), the Super Soldier formula given to Emil Blonsky is labeled as having been developed by "Dr. Reinstein." In the Marvel comics, Reinstein was a codename used by Dr. Abraham Erskine, whose serum turned Steve Rogers into Captain America."
So the super-soldier formula that Emil Blonsky used to turn into the creature known as Abomination to battle Hulk was created by Dr. Erskine, who was also responsible for developing the super-soldier formula that turned regular old Steve Rogers into Captain America.
This is not the only time the events of The Incredible Hulk were indirectly referenced in the MCU. In the original Avengers, Bruce Banner mentions to Tony Stark that the last time he was in New York, he broke Harlem, referring to his fight with Abomination.
The event was further referenced in an episode of the first season of Daredevil, which shared continuity with the MCU. In one of the background shots of Matt Murdock's office, we see a newspaper clipping titled 'Harlem Terror', with a picture of Hulk battling Abomination.
There is one more easter egg hidden in The Incredible Hulk. The program which Blonsky's super-soldier formula belongs to is titled "Weapons Plus". In the comics, the project that created Captain America was the first iteration of the "Weapon Plus" program, the tenth iteration being Weapon X, known in some circles as Wolverine.
For modern comic book movie fans who are spoiled for choice when it comes to crossover movies between different superhero properties, these little easter eggs might seem unimportant. But back in 2008, the idea that two superheroes from different franchises might appear in the same movie was unheard of. The most we ever got were little hints such as these which implied that all these heroes exist in the same reality, and our imaginations did the rest.
Now, of course, there are multiple superhero cinematic universes, each overflowing with heroes jostling for their time in the spotlight. There is the granddaddy of them all, the MCU. Their struggling competition, the DCEU. The newly-minted Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters (SPUMC), and the cocky young upstart Valiant Comics Cinematic Universe, which kicked things off this year with Vin Diesel in Bloodshot.
Only time will tell how much success all these cinematic universes will go on to achieve. But one certain thing is that comic book fans will never again experience that jolt excitement when they see an obscure easter egg from the comics in a superhero movie that hints at the character's connection to another superhero. This Easter egg from The Incredible Hulk was first shared over on Reddit.