Ultimate Avengers: The Movie (2006)

UA_SoundtrackNow that Lion’s Gate has teamed with Marvel Comics, we’re going to begin to see a lot of straight to video animated features that take off from Marvel’s flagship characters, and the first one out of the ballpark is “Ultimate Avengers”. Now, I never had the chance to read the “Ultimate Avengers” series, but I hear it’s pretty damn good. But from what I’ve seen in magazines from the previews, “Ultimate Avengers” the comic is transferred from page to screen. And what sets this apart from the average Marvel mythos is that it’s basically a new twist on the lore. Nick Fury is black, Hulk is more of an antagonist, Thor is a vain warrior, Cap is discovered by S.H.I.E.L.D. and not Namor, and we’re presented with a more jaded misanthropic scope of superheroes ala the usual zeitgeist of the modern age, though really it’s just the xenophobia that’s become representative of Marvel as a whole. That’s not an insult, but it’s not a compliment either.

And yes, this is hand drawn animation, and that be just the way I likes it. If I’m watching a film that takes from the comics, I want it to look that way, and they give us what we want in terms of quality and entertainment. I’m not sure how accurate this is to the series since I never read it, but being a lifelong comic book fan, I know the basic gist of it all. “Ultimate Avengers” is a pretty damn good animated film that I hope Marvel continues to give us. Basically the “Ultimate Avengers” implanted on to the small screen, except with small  tweaks from the original source material. I’ve heard much uproar from fans of the series that the violence and adult themes have been toned down, including Hank Pym’s abusiveness towards the Wasp, but really folks, what were you expecting?

You have Marvel trying to appeal to kids, an extremely marketable team of assorted superheroes, and a PG-13 film. It’s obvious they’d tone it down for young teens. You’ll be surprised to see that though they don’t tackle it head on, much of the themes are still there in distinct subtleties. The sexual references, broken bones, and mild language, it’s there. And I ate it up with a spoon, and I’m not a complacent fan boy. Aliens land on Earth, and are attempting to corrupt the S.H.I.E.L.D. database for–something… and now since Nick Fury and the millions of agents in S.H.I.E.L.D. can’t stop them, he opens up Project: Avenger re-assembling the newly revived Captain America, along with Black Widow, Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man, and The Wasp to take them down.

But Fury and Cap don’t realize their worst enemy may be right beside them in battle. I admit with the short running time I was worried that my money wouldn’t be put to good use, but really it was just what I was hoping for in the end. “Ultimate Avengers” is a tight, and fast action fest with gorgeous animation and the excitement of the avengers that really made them such a beloved comic book franchise. Plus, it helps that the knockdown drag out in the climax was utterly engrossing. Now, for a fan boy rant: I appreciate Marvel trying to take their formula and add some new twists to it, but did we really need more brooding superheroes?

Marvel’s whole canon has been creating heroes whom treat their superpowers and abilities and they further accentuate that with even more brooding, even turning Cap from a patriotic soldier to a patriotic soldier with problems. And I have to say, personally always preferred the white Nick Fury. I like the way they attempt to add a twist, but it’s Nick Fury, this isn’t some third tier superhero, this is a grizzled Nick Fury. This man runs an army, but where are they? He runs the most covert organization in the world and he can’t keep aliens out? You figure the most powerful corporation in the world would take every single precaution to ensure their security, it was never really logical for Fury to enlist the help of these people without putting his army to work first and foremost.

“Ultimate Avengers” is too short though, so I imagine they’ll either explain it to the audience in the sequel, or apparently just move on to the next story. I was also disappointed by the animation which left much to be desired in terms of style and flair. For an animated film Marvel is trying to tout, you assume they’d enlist top animators, yet instead “Ultimate Avengers” feel like it came out of the nineties. In the end, it’s not perfect. The animation is weak, the film is too short, and the plot is thin, but I loved it, I have to admit. It gave me what I wanted, in terms of entertainment, acting, animation, and sheer style. “Ultimate Avengers” is really only the beginning for Marvel Animation. Here’s hoping they stick to quality.