The Incredible Hulk has a couple of references to Captain America, and there’s a very subtle one you surely missed. Here’s what it is.
The Incredible Hulk has a couple of references to Captain America, including a very subtle one that pays tribute to the comics. Louis Leterrier’s The Incredible Hulk was the second film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, even if some viewers forget that it’s part of this big connected universe. The film introduced Edward Norton as Bruce Banner (who was replaced by Mark Ruffalo in The Avengers) and William Hurt as Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, who connects the film to the rest of the MCU.
The Incredible Hulk followed Bruce Banner as he took part in a military scheme with the purpose of reinvigorating the Super-Soldier program from World War II, which Ross claimed would make humans immune to gamma radiation. The experiment went horribly wrong, causing Banner to transform into the Hulk whenever his heart rose above 200 beats per minute. Though it was an improvement over the previous version of the Hulk in Ang Lee’s 2003 film, The Incredible Hulk became the lowest-grossing film in the MCU as well as one of the most forgettable ones.
Still, it’s worth noting that The Incredible Hulk has a couple of interesting connections and references to other MCU characters and films, mostly Captain America. Aside from the obvious connection through the Super-Soldier program, a deleted scene included a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo from Captain America himself and the shield, while they were still frozen. However, there’s another subtle reference to Captain America in the film, though this is more a reference to the comics than to the MCU.
A Reddit user pointed out that the Super Soldier formula given to Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) was developed by Dr. Reinstein, as seen on the label. In the comics, Dr. Abraham Erskine (played by Stanley Tucci in Captain America: The First Avenger) was first introduced as Professor Reinstein in 1941, which was revised after Marvel resumed using Captain America. In 1945, Marvel Comics retold Captain America’s origin and changed Reinstein’s name to Erskine, and explained in 1975 that “Josef Reinstein” was an alias used by Erskine during World War II. Erskine was the creator of the Super Soldier Serum and oversaw its administration and treatment to Steve Rogers, and was killed moments after Rogers’ transformation.
The Incredible Hulk tends to be ignored or forgotten when talking about the MCU, but it’s worth noting that it does hold connections to subsequent films, and Ruffalo’s Hulk even made a reference to the aforementioned deleted scene in The Avengers, as the scene showed Banner trying to kill himself. Erskine’s codename subtly included in The Incredible Hulk doesn’t really affect any of the stories, but it’s definitely a fun hidden detail.