Written by David Holland
In my mind, animation is the natural home for superheroes. You don’t have to worry as much about big budgets or special effects, and the medium is a natural fit for adapting the kinds of stories told in a lot of comic books. It also helps that I grew up in the Golden Age of superhero animation: “X-Men”, “Spider-Man”, and “Batman: The Animated Series”, which is the best adaptation of Batman onto the screen, no I will not be taking questions, thank you for your time. Sorry, that’s not the point. The point is that animation seems like the perfect place for an Avengers movie, and this film serves as a sort of soft launch before the massive undertaking that would become the MCU.
Like I said above, animation is a natural home for adapting comic book storylines. Animation style matters when you’re setting your story’s tone and I think this was the perfect fit for an adaptation of Marvel’s “Ultimates”. The voice work is impeccable, and features talent that Star Wars fans will recognize immediately:
There is a clear effort to stay true to many elements of the comics canon. Iron Man’s identity is a secret, Hank Pym doesn’t get along with SHIELD (or anyone), and Black Widow speaks with a Russian accent. It’s fun to see a different take on the Chitauri invasion than the one from MCU’s “The Avengers”, and I think this film would be a great way to introduce Marvel heroes to kids who are still a little bit too young for the live action counterparts.
With only 72 minutes of runtime, this movie has a lot to do. I don’t subscribe to the philosophy that every superhero needs their own solo intro before the ensemble – if you want to throw Wonder Woman into Batman v Superman, I’m fine with that. But this movie needs to give us a Captain America origin story, explain why Hank Pym is mad at SHIELD, give backstory to Bruce and Betty’s troubled relationship and – oh yeah – have a conflict with the Chitauri.
Needless to say, there’s a lot of “just go with it”. There are also some character choices that seem a bit off. This movie predates the MCU by two years, so comparisons definitely aren’t fair, but I’m going to make them anyway. Captain Rogers spends a fair amount of time brooding and unsure of himself in this movie. Bruce Banner’s attempts to win back Betty, which I think were supposed to be sweet, come off more as “Creepy guy who won’t take ‘No’ for an answer”. And in its rush to accomplish everything it needed to in just an hour and change the actual plot was a bit… boring. I think this movie laid the ground work and I am interested to see where the next ones go from here.
Feels a bit “run-of-the-mill”, but lots of room to grow.
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