Tim Roth Almost Returned To The MCU Far Earlier Than She-Hulk

Tim Roth will be part of the supporting cast of "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law" as Emil Blonsky/The Abomination. Blonsky appears as one of Jennifer Walters' supervillain clients, with her trying to get him paroled; the "She-Hulk" trailers show the two meeting while he's imprisoned. Considering Walters is a cousin of Blonsky's nemesis, Bruce Banner, their attorney/client relationship probably isn't going to be the smoothest.

Blonsky was previously the main villain of 2008's "The Incredible Hulk," and the Marvel Cinematic Universe's second big bad after Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) in "Iron Man." When a villain survives the end of a Marvel movie, it's usually because there are greater plans for them. And yet, Roth wound up stuck in one of the longest hiatuses in the MCU. There was a 13-year gap between his initial role in "The Incredible Hulk" and his uncredited cameo in 2021's "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," where he provided only voice-over work for Blonsky's Abomination form. Add another year on top of that and fans to see Roth himself again in "She-Hulk" — unlike his comic counterpart, the MCU Abomination can apparently change forms at will.

 However, according to Roth, Marvel considered bringing him back earlier, in 2015's "Avengers: Age of Ultron."

When Roth could've returned

In 2014, about six months before the release of "Age of Ultron," Crave Online (via MovieWeb) asked Tim Roth if he would ever return to the Marvel universe. Here's what he had to say:

"They were going to [bring me back]. They did do that. They were thinking, in 'The Avengers 2' or something. There was a movie we could do that at one point, but way back when. It just kind of got swept under the carpet I guess. That would be hilarious."

Roth's comments are a bit vague, so it's hard to tell what role Abomination could have played in "Age of Ultron." If we're going to speculate, the easiest place in the finished film to slot him in would be when the Scarlet Witch-controlled Hulk rampages through South Africa and fights Tony Stark in the Hulkbuster armor. Just swap out the Hulk for Abomination. Of course, this very scene might have made Blonsky's role in the film redundant; can't have two huge, green-skinned monsters running around. Another possibility is Ultron could've recruited Abomination to his cause. In the film, he does convince the Maximoff twins to work for him by playing on their grudge against Iron Man.

However, it's also unconfirmed at what stage of development Abomination was considered to appear. When Marvel contacted Roth, the story for "Age of Ultron" might not have resembled the final version all that much. In other words, the alternate "Avengers 2" featuring Roth could have been a totally different one from the one we got.

Side-effects of no Hulk sequel

Another part of Roth's quote stands out, where he talks about the concept of a Marvel movie that got "swept under the carpet." Obviously, this wasn't "Avengers 2." Rather, he's likely referring to a sequel to "The Incredible Hulk." The movie's middling reception and box office returns, mixed with Universal Pictures co-owning movie rights to the Hulk, mean that a sequel was never greenlit and Mark Ruffalo still has yet to headline a Hulk film even after a decade of playing Bruce Banner. Due to this, and how Edward Norton was recast with Ruffalo, some uncertainty prevailed over whether the film even counted as MCU canon.

However, going into the movie, there was hope for a sequel among the creators. In 2008, Norton told TotalFilm, "[The Incredible Hulk is] definitely intended as a chapter one." In 2009, while promoting his procedural series "Lie To Me," Roth confirmed he had a three-film deal with Marvel. Since Marvel did initially want an "Incredible Hulk" sequel, it makes sense they would want to keep Roth around. For one, he's an acclaimed actor. Second, the Hulk doesn't have the deepest rogues gallery, and the Abomination is one of his only A-list foes.

Speaking of, the most obvious sequel bait of "The Incredible Hulk" is Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson), who in the comics is the Hulk's arch-foe The Leader. If "The Incredible Hulk" had gotten a sequel with The Leader as the villain, it's plausible Abomination would've been his muscle in animated series like the 1996 "Incredible Hulk" and "The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes."

While there's been no sign of Nelson returning to the MCU, if he does one day, he'll beat out Roth for the longest gap between appearances.