Warning: Contains SPOILERS for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
In a surprise twist, Abomination returned to the MCU in new Phase 4 movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings but with a more evolved look since his last appearance. While there have not been any solo Hulk movies since 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, the Jade Giant has been a near-ever-present since Phase One thanks to Mark Ruffalo replacing Ed Norton. Meanwhile, William Hurt’s General Ross has returned in several Phase 3 and 4 releases and Betty Ross even returned to Marvel’s What If…?, with another actor in place of Liv Tyler. The one major character from that movie who hadn’t returned until now was Emil Blonsky, a.k.a. Abomination.
It’s already known that Tim Roth’s villainous beast is set to make a comeback in She-Hulk, but, as confirmed by the second trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Abomination is one of the stand-alone’s callback cameos. As Shang-Chi and Katy discover Xialing’s underground fighting tournament, they find Abomination fighting Doctor Strange librarian Wong (Benedict Wong). As confirmed by the film-makers, Tim Roth actually returned to voice the character’s grunts.
Shang-Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings’ version of Abomination has gone through something of a makeover since The Incredible Hulk. Given that it has been more than 10 years since the last Hulk movie released, it’s only natural that he’s changed. Visually, Abomination looks more comics accurate than he did in The Incredible Hulk, with a surprisingly more human-looking face. While Abomination he’s still the same size, his facial features have evolved the most since 2008, but it appears his mutations have gone further since his time in the Raft prison.
Something the MCU was missing from the villain’s comic counterpart was his finned ears. Thanks to his Shang-Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings appearance, those have now been added to make him look more faithful to the source material. On top of that, his fearsome-looking bone protrusions appear to have developed further and his arms are both more muscular and less vascular, with a look more like layered armor. Despite already having seriously impressive traps, they’re also bigger in Phase 4.
The biggest change is not aesthetic but ideological: though he’s fighting Wong in the Macau tournament, Abomination is not his enemy. Wong refers to training with him and the pair have obvious camaraderie as they head back to the Raft prison. It could well be that She-Hulk show ends up explaining what Wong was setting up with the hulking beast in terms of the training he mentions. Perhaps Shang-Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings was meant to pay homage to the initial Phase One plan to hire Blonsky’s beast for the first Avengers team? Maybe he won’t be the villain of She-Hulk that has long been suspected.