What Joss Whedon has done is quite spectacular. He’s managed to take what could have been a complete clusterfuck of a movie and compacted every single hero and their mythos within two and a half hours, while also being able to introduce new heroes we can root for in the process. “The Avengers” is a true accomplishment of not only studio ambition but comic book cinema, a true masterpiece of the fantasy genre that piles together Marvel’s greatest heroes for a film many comic book fans have dreamed of having for decades. “The Avengers” incidentally is one of the many variations of Akira Kurosawa’s unparalleled masterpiece “Seven Samurai.” In “The Avengers” much like Kurosawa’s masterpiece, a thuggish villain rears his ugly head prepared to take down a land of innocent people for their own selfish purposes. Only when seven mismatched and unique heroes join forces and put aside their egos to defend the land does the villain meet his match. Ultimately while “The Avengers” is in fact an ambitious project that’s been planned from the get go, the film feels very meticulously crafted.
Never ones to be outdone by the big budget action spectacular that is “Thor,” The Asylum continues their tradition of finely timed mock busters releasing “Almighty Thor” for the masses and what a dilly of a pickle it is. As a production it’s quite a creative bit of wannabe big budget entertainment, but deep down it lacks all the basic necessities of filmmaking that include competent special effects and solid performances. The second best option to Anthony Hopkins, Kevin Nash for one, is hilarious as the father Odin, who can barely squeeze out a bit of dialogue without panting.
Marvel’s Thor has always skidded on the edge of mainstream entertainment and literary fare. As a comic book series it’s always been one of the most sophisticated of the pantheon of characters, so not every fan has subscribed to what tale the god of thunder has told fans for decades. And even with big names leading the pack like Natalie Portman and Kenneth Branagh, “Thor” is a hard sell for fans of the superhero cinema who want their entertainment and battles here and now and have to wait for their meals.
Whether we like it or not, from here on in Marvel Comics and Marvel Entertainment is officially owned by Disney Studios. What effect this will have on the comics and characters as a whole has yet to be fully realized, but many can agree one of the positive outcomes of this new ownership has been “The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” a full fledged action adventure series starring all of the heroes we know and love fighting as one super team against Earth’s most impossible foes.
After a very disastrous animated attempt in the late nineties many fans recall with disgust, Disney has rebooted the animated franchise including all of our favorite heroes the aforementioned series failed to include and have considerably gone all out creatively and artistically. While the series will satisfy fans of the actual title, the intent of the series is to garner brand new fans of the titles and characters being pushed on a kids channel geared toward boys and will undoubtedly win over a brand new generation of true believers.
It only stands to reason that Marvel would create such an unusual pairing of short films based around two of Marvel’s flagship characters. What with the Hulk smashing the box office, the development of a “Thor” film, and Wolverine being granted the lead in a new series and a series of action movies, it suddenly comes to mind that these pairings aren’t so odd after all. Once you break it down to its core, it’s really Marvel testing the waters for the fan boys and girls yet again. And if you’re not over thinking things like moi, there’s always the possibility that Marvel just wanted to get three of the greatest Marvel heroes and make them go one, two smashing the Earth and spitting blood in a stand off that only exemplifies the appeal and why my local DVD store had to restock every week since these movies premiered on shelves across the nation.
I was a little less forgiving for the sequel of “Ultimate Avengers” mainly because it was a sequel and I expected a lot from it, and mostly because it was so utterly disappointing. People whom have been following the “Ultimate Avengers” story, will be surprised to see that there are twists aplenty including some deaths of very important characters that could decide the fate of them all, and lead to rather sinister developments—but if you’ve read the comics, then you know what happens. Meanwhile, the animation is still rather excellent, especially since it’s darker and yet just as colorful as we previously remember. “Ultimate Avengers 2” is a lot of fun to look, but not suggested for kids. I wanted more of a story, more linear characterization, more personality, and I received just more of the first film. Surely, this adds a new character attempting to mix-up the chemistry and conflict, but it’s just a copy of the first in the end.
Now 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.