Marvel always wanted to do a shared cinematic universe. Kevin Feige was proposing this idea right from the early 2000s when he was associated with Fox’s X-Men movies. Finally, he was able to start off with the MCU in 2008. We saw the set up for an extensive shared Universe with Iron Man itself. Nick Fury walked in to talk about the Avengers Initiative. Then, we got The Incredible Hulk. It may be the film that Marvel doesn’t really like to refer to a whole lot. But it still is one of the most underappreciated movies of the MCU as it laid the groundwork for the future movies to come.
For instance, it tied with Captain America: The First Avenger by showing us a different version of the Super Soldier serum. It had so many MCU related Easter Eggs. And most importantly, we got to see Tony Stark pull off his own Nick Fury moment at the very end of the film. To this date, most people haven’t been able to understand why exactly did Tony Stark step into the bar to speak with General Ross. Iron Man 2 proved that the initial talks of the Avengers Initiative broke down. So if Tony wasn’t even an Avenger until the first Avengers movie, then what was the point of him talking to Ross? Apparently, it was a ploy arranged by S.H.I.E.L.D.
After Ross’ double failure to create Super Soldiers in The Incredible Hulk, Tony walked in a bar in order to speak to him. He said, “I hate to say I told you so General, but that Super Soldier program was put on ice for a reason.” Here Tony refers to the creation of the uncontrollable Abomination. Then the scene ended with an exchange between Stark & Ross. Stark said, “What if I told you we’re putting together a team?” Ross replied, “Who’s we?” This scene was improvised, but it had a much deeper meaning.
It killed 2 birds with one stone. The general audience just thought that Stark was speaking to Ross about recruiting Hulk in the Avengers. But if you think about it, why would Stark go to Ross to talk about Hulk when Banner had already escaped? In fact, The Avengers proved that S.H.I.E.L.D. themselves kept tabs on Banner but preferred to keep their distance. In Marvel’s One Shot movie called The Consultant, it was revealed that Tony was actually sent to talk about recruiting Abomination to the Avengers.
The tie in comic, Iron Man 2: Public Identity revealed that Ross & Stark already knew each other and had a history of their own. Ross used to consider Iron Man as a lose cannon. He wanted to have a contingency plan in case Iron Man ever went rogue. That’s why Ross commissioned Justin Hammer to construct a one-man fighter that would be able to counter Tony’s suits. As we saw in Iron Man 2, Justin Hammer was up to all sorts of no good. His attempt failed and when an American airman was stranded in the Congo, Ross had to call in Iron Man for the rescue.
When Tony arrived, Ross ordered him to open fire on the Congolese terrorists. Tony totally denied that by stating that he wasn’t a regular soldier of General Ross who would just take orders from him. So, there was a bit of bad blood between Ross & Rachel, umm I mean Ross & Tony. That’s why he was sent to speak to Ross about the Avengers Initiative. The World Security Council was putting pressure on Nick Fury to recruit Abomination in the Avengers. Having seen how uncontrollable and volatile Abomination was, Fury didn’t want the monstrosity in the team. So, he let Coulson call in Stark as “the Consultant” to piss General Ross off. Agent Sitwell suggested that Tony’s ego would be too much for Ross to handle, and Ross would deny to cooperate himself. And that’s what ultimately happened.
But now, Ross has the means to create his own team. He will soon be forming the Thunderbolts. Emil Blonsky (Abomination) will be pulled out of the cell that he was assigned. Ross will bring back Justin Hammer. Ghost, Taskmaster, Zemo & possibly even Yelena Belova will possibly join his Thunderbolts team. Black Widow, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier & She-Hulk are the rumored projects that will set up the Thunderbolts project.