The climactic battle scene in Iron Man, where Tony Stark defeats Obadiah Stane, shares similarities with a similar scene in the 2003 movie Hulk. Iron Man’s battle strategy of luring Stane to a high altitude to freeze his suit is more straightforward and effective compared to Hulk’s trip to the upper atmosphere. The callback to Stark’s earlier experimentation with the Mark II Iron Man suit adds a fun and inventive element to the final battle, showcasing Stark’s scientific genius and technological expertise.

The ending of 2008’s Iron Man recreated a major set piece from 2003’s Hulk. Iron Man got the ball rolling for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the movie was hardly the first Marvel Comics adaptation to hit the big screen. One of the first big Marvel movies of the 21st century was Ang Lee’s Hulk, which also ended up being one of the most divisive Marvel-based films ever made.

Hulk‘s depressing Batman Returns-like tone was a major factor in its polarized reception, which even extended to the movie’s Hulk-smashing action scenes. Despite this, Hulk was influential on the MCU in at least one subtle way. Specifically, Tony Stark’s battle strategy against Obadiah Stane a.k.a. Iron Monger (Jeff Bridges) in Iron Man‘s climax pulls from a scene in Hulk where Bruce Banner is literally taken to the stars.

Iron Man Making Stane’s Suit Freeze Was How Ross Defeated Hulk In 2003’s Movie

As Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is first suiting up as Iron Man, he encounters an issue of his suit freezing and its internal mechanics shutting down if he flies at too high of an altitude. While Tony is able to solve this problem for his suit, he uses it as a trap against Obadiah Stane in their climactic showdown, luring him to a very high altitude to cause his Iron Monger suit to frost over, quipping that Stane “might want to look into” the “icing problem” before bopping his suit back to Earth. This moment is very reminiscent of the sequence in Hulk in which the transformed Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) is rampaging in San Francisco.

After the Hulk leaps onto an F-15 fighter jet from the Golden Gate Bridge, General Ross (Sam Elliot) gives the pilot orders to “Take him on a ride to the top of the world. Let’s see what the thin air will do for him.” As the pilot flies nearly into orbit, the cold and thin air is too much for even the Hulk to endure, causing him to pass out and fall thousands of feet into San Francisco Bay. Despite the two scene’s similarities, Iron Man‘s has a few added elements to it that improve upon Hulk‘s captivating but bizarre fall from 40,000 feet.

Iron Man Defeating Stane Worked Better Than Hulk’s Defeat

Iron Man‘s high-altitude battle is a far more straightforward action scene than Hulk‘s, with Stark setting a trap and dropping a one-liner after Stane’s suit is frozen over. By contrast, Hulk‘s extremely surreal tone makes the movie’s flying scene much more dream-like and even open to interpretation in terms of its plot significance. Hulk even shows the Hulk’s perspective as he falls back to Earth, with the Hulk dreaming of grabbing Bruce Banner while he’s shaving and calling him “puny human” before crashing into the water below.

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There’s also the added layer of Stark’s battle plan against Stane being a direct callback to his own earlier experimentation with the Mark II Iron Man suit. In bringing it back for the final battle of Iron Man, the movie adds a little more fun to the mix by bringing Tony Stark’s scientific genius and technological expertise into an on-the-fly (literally) trap he devises. In the end, while neither Stane nor Hulk die in their gigantic falls, both are very memorable moments in Iron Man and Hulk, with the former having a bit more of a pay-off quality to it.

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