|"Hulk Vs." on sale now on DVD and Blu-Ray|
Retelling the classic battle that introduced one of Marvel's most enduring characters, "Hulk Vs. Wolverine" finds Logan hunting the Green Goliath across the Canadian wilderness, only to discover a threat from his own past that could destroy them both. Featured as one part of the "Hulk Vs." DVD and Blu-Ray release, which also includes "Hulk Vs. Thor," the short animated movie stars Steve Blum as the voice of Wolverine, squaring off against Fred Tatasciore's Hulk. CBR News spoke with Blum about the movie, along with a few of his other credits and why this is all such a surprise to the actor.
Blum told CBR that his acting career "all sort of happened by accident" when he took a small voice role in an anime project nearly twenty years ago. "I thought it was going to be for one day for some monster growls, and they ended up hiring me for 26 episodes," he said. "I ended up getting show after show in anime, and I'd been in anime for several years before it even dawned on me I could pursue it as a career. I still didn't believe it could turn into anything more than a little sideline fun thing to do, until 8-10 years ago, when I started to do some commercials and a couple of original animated projects. Kind of learned on the job. I had no aspirations to be in theatre or film or on camera--it's just sort of been a natural progression. I love it. I love going into work every day."
Beginning with anime growls and finding himself now playing the gravelly-voiced Wolverine in "Hulk vs. Wolverine" and "Wolverine and the X-Men," one might wonder if all of Blum’s characters have come from that deep, guttural tone. "No, I've played a lot of different types of projects," Blum said. "In fact, one of the earliest things I did was play a little pink puffball type character for the ‘Digimon’ series. I've been sort of pigeonholed by some of the fans as the guy with the one growly voice. I've done three or four hundred projects and probably only half of them are using that type of texture."
|Scene from "Hulk Vs."|
Though Blum does not currently read comic books, his experience in the comics industry goes back to his first job. "My very first job was working in my grandfather's bookstore in Hollywood, it was sort of a famous place. And my uncle ran the comic book department there, way upstairs and kind of tucked away in the back," Blum explained. "I think I was probably about 13-14 years old, was to sort comics. I would spend my summers there, with the smell of rotting Chinese food coming up from the alley, sorting through comic books and reading them. So that was where my first love for them originated. I never really absorbed comics and became an expert on them like a lot of the fans out there, but it certainly shaped a love and appreciation for the medium."
Getting into the character of Wolverine, Blum considers not only the hero's outer strength but the inner doubts that plague him. "One of the things that attracted me to Logan in the first place is just the fact that this guy can handle pretty much any kind of physical torture or bodily destruction and heal from it, and yet emotionally he's not able to come to grips with a lot of his inner torment," the actor said.
"The interesting thing with him is, even the fact that when his claws come out, it's breaking the skin and he has to feel that pain every single time. It's such an interesting, raw way to express human emotion, but also such an over-the-top way. So I try to bring that to him. It's such a great way to express angst that I have built up as a child and carried into adulthood in a healthy way."
|Scene from "Hulk Vs."|
As to whether he has any particular rage to draw from to battle the Hulk, Blum joked "only that Fred Tatasciore is such a horrible person," referring to his co-star. "He's actually one of my best friends. It's funny, in the studio we were just brutally tearing each other apart vocally, and I remember after a couple of scenes we would check in with each other to make sure we were both alright. Which is a very un-Wolverine-like thing to do. The license that we were given, to bring it to level eleven and just tear each other to shreds was a step above anything I've ever done in animation."
Given that a character's voice portrayal can influence how a generation of fans "hear" that character in comics, Blum said he is humbled by the opportunity to be Wolverine for those discovering the X-Men through “Wolverine and the X-Men” and “Hulk Vs.” "It's so interesting to me, because it's one of those things where I'm constantly surprised that I got the gig," the actor said. "I've always had a voice for Wolverine in my head, and as much as I loved the series from the '90s, I had something a little bit different in my head all these years. Just the fact that I was able to have the opportunity to get that out of my head and into the character has just been phenomenal to me. It's like a childhood dream. I think it's any comic book fan's dream to have anything to do with a franchise of this magnatude. So I'm excited and grateful every time I get to walk into that studio."
In addition to playing Wolverine and other animated characters, Blum has also provided voices for video games including “Final Fantasy XII,” “Halo 3,” and “Lost: Via Domus,” for which he played Jack Shepherd. "The funny thing is that, with most video games, it's just do it as fast as we can and try to stay true to the character. For [‘Lost’], it was just a weird thing: they were looking for someone who was close to the original voice. I didn't really didn't think I was. But I was closer than most people they auditioned, and I guess I had the inflections they were looking for. So that one was a bit of a crapshoot. I did do my research, I watched a lot of episodes. It was unusual for me for a video game, we're really not given that luxury. A lot of times I'll get the booking the night before or two nights before I do the job. I walk in they hand me a script and two minutes later we're recording."
|Scene from "Hulk Vs."|
Steve Blum does not always have a lot of prep time for cartoons, either, but for “Wolverine and the X-Men” and “Hulk Vs.,” the producers really wanted to make sure he and his co-stars knew what we were doing. "They gave us the scripts in advance, but also they'd give us the back-story,” Blum explained. “[Writer] Craig Kyle was really generous offering up a lot of back-story to these characters, and what he was trying to bring across.”
Kyle is a producer on "Hulk Vs." and "Wolverine and the X-Men," and co-wrote the features with Chris Yost, who he also collaborates with regularly in comics. "He's drawing from so many of the different incarnations of Wolverine to bring out in one place, especially for the movie,” Blum said. “He really wanted to have a deep understanding of what we were doing, and it was a great luxury for me to be able to enrich the character in that way.
"We really relied on Craig and [director] Frank Paur, and those guys are such fans as well as being the executives on the show, and to get their insight of what they were trying to bring to the party. They know better than anybody what the fans are looking for. The hardcore fans are whom we're hoping to please ultimately, and I think by doing that the general audience will appreciate it too. They did their homework on this, and I really appreciate that, and there's no research that I could have done that would compare to what they put together.
"I'm just really grateful to have the opportunity to work on this thing, and to kick ass as much as we did. And fortunately we all survived, and now we have a phenomenal movie and series to watch. I hope I'm part of the franchise for a very, very long time."
“Hulk Vs.” is on sale now on DVD and Blu-Ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.