Thursday, March 09, 2006

Avengers, Assemble!

For those of you who haven't seen the Marvel animated movie Ultimate Avengers, I highly recommend it.

Based on Millar's Ultimate-retake of the Avengers, The Ultimates, the movie condenses the first two arcs of the comic (forming the team and fighting the Hulk, then fighting the Chitauri/Skrulls) into one, compressed 70 minute piece. Its slick, honestly. They had to cut out some plot threads, which regretably means that they removed one of the best Cap-Fury scenes in there (when Cap and Fury first meet and Cap's response is "Nice try, Fritz! But its 1944, and the highest ranking black man in the United States military is a Colonel!"), and lost a few really overt aspects of the characters' personalities.

But there are still some nice nods back to the original writing. Iron Man/Tony Stark is shown holding a glass with a half empty bottle of...something...beside him after their first mission failure. Giant-Man/Hank Pym still seems to have an, at least emotionally, abusive and/or controlling relationship with his wife, Wasp/Janet. And Captain America and Wasp still have the hots for each other.

One of the biggest changes was in the Bruce Banner-Betty Ross relationship. Betty's no longer an ice-queen/uber-bitch, sleeping around on Bruce because he can't be man enough for her. Instead she seems to have more emotional issues than anything else with him...which was OK, I suppose. But "HULK KILL FREDDIE PRINZ JUNIOR!" is one of my favourite Hulk lines of all time. So I was sad to see it go.

I'm unsure of how they're going to handle Thor. Whether he'll be a thundergod ala regular Marvel-U, or whether he'll be crazy, ala Ultimates Universe.

(See, now I want to write a Hulk single about the Hulk on the Planet of Cute and Fuzzy Bunnies. Then some alien comes along and steps on one, and Hulk goes nuts. "HULK KILL BUNNY KILLER!". Then again, I just want to see a book where the Hulk evidences only 20 words of English, and most of his dialogue consists of "Hulk like bunny".)

The animation was slick and quick. Very nicely done. The characters really looked like they did in the comics, which was nice. Thor looked especially good. They really got his look down. Giant-Man, however, looked like someone out of Aeon Flux (the MTV show, not the movie). Maybe its just how tall and gangly he was drawn, but in the outfit he was wearing he could have worked for Trevor Goodchild. Seriously.

Looks like the Ultimate Avengers movies are going to be direct-to-video (OVA-style), 70 minute animated movies coming out quarterly. Actually not too bad. I'm interesting in seeing how that goes for Marvel. They certainly set the price low enough (its worth every penny of its $15 CDN cover price) to make it affordable, and included sufficient balances between action and story to make it fun for both kids, teens, and adults, as well as fans of the Avengers, fans of the Ultimates, and folks who've never read either.

At the very least, go rent it. But at the price its at, you could buy it or rent it three times. I'd suggest just flat out buying it.

Its worth it.


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