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STUDIO: Lions Gate
MSRP:
$36.49
RATED: Not rated
RUNNING TIME:
482 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:
- The Invincible Iron Man
  – Alternate Opening Sequence
  – The Origin of Iron Man featurette
  – The Hall of Iron Man Armor
  – Concept Art
  – A Look at Doctor Strange 
- Doctor Strange
  – Marvel Video game Cinematics
  – The Origin of Doctor Strange
  – First Look at Avengers Reborn

  – Concept Art
- Hulk Vs.
  – Commentary on both films by Craig Kyle and Chris Yost
  – First Look: Thor – Tales of Asgard
  – First Look: Wolverine & The X-Men
- Ultimate Avengers
  – Avengers Trivia Track
  – Avengers Assemble!
  – The Ultimate Voice talent Search
  – First look: Ultimate Avengers 2
- Ultimate Avengers 2
  – The Ultimates Featurette
  – What Avenger Are You?
  – The Ultimate Gag Reel
  – First Look at Iron Man
  – First Look at Doctor Strange
- Next Avengers

  – Legacy: The Making of Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow
  – Kid Power: Next Gen Marvel
  – First Look: Hulk vs. Wolverine
  – First Look: Hulk vs. Thor


The Pitch


The comics you loved as a kid (or an adult) getting the animated treatment they deserve.




“Tony, your heart has been damaged.  You might have to be in this iron lung for a while.”
“It’s okay, Rhodey.  I’ll survive.”
“Your liver was also damaged.  You can never have another drink.”
“What?  Oh God!  Why lord, Whyyyyyy??!”



The Heroes

Iron Man, The Ultimate Avengers, Hulk, Wolverine, Thor, Doctor Strange, The Avengers’ Rugrats.

The Nutshell

Having done several solid animated adaptations of their best-known superheroes, Marvel groups the six features together in one package.


The Lowdown

It’s always fun to see the superheroes you enjoy get a good treatment, be it live action or animated.  All too often it’s the latter to which we get treated.  There have been umpteen adaptations of both DC and marvel characters throughout the years.  However, lately, both houses have gotten their animation divisions together and have been cranking out some pretty entertaining feature-length adventures for our favorite super types.  Here’s how these six break down.



“Why do I feel a breeze up my…oh come on, man!”



The Invincible Iron Man

This is a rather loose adaptation of the origin story, that mixes Shellhead’s beginnings in with the resurrection of his most diabolical (and accessorized) nemesis: the Mandarin, with a decidedly Anime presentation.  Here, Stark is still the same womanizing, carefree genius lout he’s usually portrayed to be.  He’s already established Stark Enterprises with his many inventions.  However, a major departure here is that ole Howard Stark is still alive, and he and Tony don’t always get along. 

Rhodey is pretty much the same, and he’s introduced spearheading the effort to raise the Mandarin’s 3,000-year-old city from a cavern for Stark.  The expedition keeps getting attacked by Chinese zealots, called the Jade Dragons, who are determined to prevent that from happening.  It’s via their attacks that Stark is lured to China and injured, and how he has to develop the iron party duds to escape with Rhodey.  They’re helped by the beautiful Li Mei, who is a reluctant member of the Jade Dragons. 



“My lord, I’ve been banging the Hulk on the side.”
“Verily, will l have to discuss the issue with the varlet…”



From there, the Mandarin’s Elementals – demonic embodiments of fire, water, etc. – come to life and start gathering his rings, which have been secreted around the globe by Shaolin Monks.  Back home, Stark has issues with his father and the Stark Enterprises Board, who plan to strip him of his responsibilities due to his irresponsible ways.  Plus he’s also being accused of illegal weapons trading in China.  Luckily he can utilize the many advanced armors that he had been working on for some time.  This leads to a couple of confrontations between Shellhead and the Elementals, culminating in Stark’s efforts to stop the Mandarin’s ascension in China. 

The animation and story are fine, but it essentially glosses over the entire creation of the armor and how that changes Tony.  And damned if that finale with the Mandarin and a nude Li Mei ain’t the most Hentai thing you’re going to see in a mainstream movie. 



“Fuck it, she’s yours…!”



Doctor Strange

I read plenty of adventures that co-starred Doc Strange back in the day, but I never found him to be overly interesting beyond aiding other superheroes, particularly Spider-Man.  But this film was a nice surprise for me.  It hits all the necessary plot highlights of Strange’s development and character arc.  Strange starts out very Starkish: supremely talented in his field and arrogant to the point of being a prick.  But Strange isn’t having anywhere near the amount of fun that Tony’s dishing.  He’s embittered and distant by his inability to save his sister from a fatal illness.  So he eschews the bedside manner in favor of big cash cases and publishing.  Pro bono and needy patients who can’t afford his help can hang for all he cares.

Meanwhile, Wong, Mordo and a group of sorcerers are battling the growing threat of Dormammu’s monsters that keep attacking The Ancient One’s Sanctum Sanctorum, getting closer to it every time.  Mordo leads the team and doesn’t care when members die as long as the threats are eliminated.  This leads him to repeatedly clash with Wong.  Strange gets involved with one of these battles and displays an ability to see beyond Wong’s illusions.  He later sees the souls of children that have mysteriously gone comatose and this causes him to lose control of his car and irreparably damage his hands in the crash.  Even more embittered, Strange blows his entire fortune looking for a cure for his hands to no avail.  Destitute, he receives an invitation from Wong to come to Tibet to study at the feet of the Ancient One and possibly salvage his tortured soul.  But Strange takes this invitation to mean that his hands can be cured.



“Yeah, adamantium claws.  What now, bitch?”



“…”



Once in Tibet, Strange begins the long road to recovery and learning the mystic arts.  It’s soon revealed that Strange, and not the arrogant Mordo, is in line to succeed the Ancient One, who is dying.  This leads Mordo to betray them and to become Strange’s mortal enemy.  From there, Strange takes the mantle of Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme and must stop Mordo and Dormammu. 

The animation in Doctor Strange is suitably good, with its anime influences, like in several other of the films, and the story is also fine.  This turned out to be a much better movie than I thought it would have.

Hulk Vs.

This was a departure from the other films in that it presents a couple of adventures for the Not So Jolly Green Giant.  It doesn’t bother with an origin story, which has been rehashed twice now in theatrical form.  It just presents Hulk and Banner getting caught up in two schemes, one involving Thor and the Asgardians, and one involving Wolverine and his old pals, Team X.  The humor and more entertaining story lies within the latter, as Hulk and Wolverine get to hash out their differences in classic style from the very beginnings of Wolverine’s appearance in the Marvel Universe.



“Shit, now how am I supposed to stroke my Shaft of Agamotto?”



There’s plenty of good action and fighting between the two protagonists and with Wolverine and Hulk against Team X, which includes Sabretooth, Lady Deathstrike, Omega Red and a wisecracking Deadpool, who almost heists the pic out from everyone.  For those who spank themselves to those classic Wolverine / Hulk battles in the woods, you won’t be disappointed. 

For the Asgard story, that one was fine as well, although Hulk sporting an emo haircut leaves a little to be desired.  Some great slobberknocker action between Hulk and Goldilocks.  Enjoyed the brutality of it.  Hulk taking out pretty much the entire Asgard fighting force is also a good way to kill a few minutes. 

Ultimate Avengers &
Ultimate Avengers 2

It’s understandable that Marvel would choose to adapt based on this version of the Avengers rather than the “regular” universe incarnation considering the turnover of that group going back forty years.  I doubt even all of the various X-Teams have had the membership that the Avengers have had over the decades.  But typically, the core group has usually been Cap, Iron Man, Thor, Wasp, and to a lesser degree, Henry Pym/Ant-Man/Giant Man/Goliath/Henry Pym/Wasp/et al, and that’s who we have here, along with founding member, the Hulkster. 



Strange learned the hard way that when Dormammu lets one rip, you really don’t want to be around…



These movies are more like two halves of the whole, as elements from the first roll right into the second, and things like who are the aliens and what do they want are left dangling after the first movie.  The basic story is the formation of the team in the face of this alien threat, that is directly related to the disappearance of Captain America in 1945.  The aliens are called Chitauri and have ships made out of vibranium, which makes them nearly invulnerable.  One of the Chitauri is a shapeshifter who masqueraded as a Nazi named Klaiser during the war, and liked the look so much he’s still running around in it in modern times, goose-stepping uniform and all.

In the first film, Banner is hoping to duplicate Cap’s super soldier serum as a means to control the Hulk, which is where Cap’s thawed out body comes in.  However, no one expects him to get up off the slab and start kicking ass again.  So Fury gets a new team together around him to combat the Chitauri threat.  This consists of a Thunder God who may or may not be legit and has a membership in Greenpeace, Stark’s iron bodyguard, an Asian Wasp and her prick husband, Pym, and the Black Widow.  In the end, when the Chitauri attack, the fight turns from dealing with them to slugging it out with a Hulk who was supposed to now be under control, but, surprise surprise, isn’t. 



“Media analysis complete.  There still ain’t shit on…”



The sequel pretty much picks up right where the first left off, with Cap having issues adjusting to a life that has passed him by and the Chitauri still a threat.  This time, Klaiser and his bunch attack Wakanda, which brings the Black Panther into the equation.  Both Cap and T’Challa have axes to grind with Klaiser, as he murdered not only Cap’s wartime comrades, but T’Challa’s father.  The attack on Wakanda spurs on a worldwide confrontation with the Chitauri and their mothership. 

Other story threads are that Pym and Wasp are having issues due to his jealousy and insecurity.  Also, Banner, who is now incarcerated for his rampage in the first film, is trying to redeem himself, especially in the eyes of Betty Ross.  There’s a relationship that develops between Widow and Cap.  Unfortunately, Iron Man and Thor aren’t given much to do character-wise in either movie.  Stark is classic Stark and Thor is a super-powered hippie essentially.  The movies are pretty good, but even after rewatching them, I’m still wondering what the Chitauri’s endgame was besides the vibranium.  Was it boilerplate “rule the world” shit or what?  There isn’t much explanation given to that.



“Wow, so that’s Ultron.”
“Yeah.”
“I don’t think we’ll survive this fight.”
“Maybe.  But does anyone know why he has an adamantium penis…?”


Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow

Normally this would be a movie that I’d probably hate, because it’s the Romper Room version of the Avengers, made pretty much for kids only, and thus not really my bag.  But I was surprised to find that I didn’t really mind this tale of the Avengers’ kids in their own adventure.  It was, at the least, an original take on the franchise and not a bad little story in its own right.  Basically you have the offspring of the fallen team.  James Rogers is the son of Cap and Widow, who has an energy shield like his old man’s. Pym is the son of Giant Man and Wasp, who can shrink and grow wings like mom and grow to giant stature like pop. 

Azari is the son of Black Panther and Storm.  He has catlike abilities like his dad and can generate electricity like Storm.  Torunn is the daughter of Thor with major daddy issues and Francis Barton is the son of Hawkeye and mockingbird with his eye on Torunn.  He wasn’t raised with the others and had to survive all these years in Ultra City while leading a resistance against Ultron.



“Widow on the rag again, Cap?”
“Yeah…”



There’s some pretty good action in this film, even if it does all too frequently dip into the realm of overly-cute.  Will definitely appeal more to kids, despite the grim fact that Ultron turned the original Avengers into kindling.

The Package

The animation on all of the films is top notch and the transfers look good.  Sound is also typically good in the various Dolby presentations.  All of the films have featurettes and concept art  and several of them have sneak peaks at the other movies.  Hulk Vs. has commentaries on both films and there are various other extras to occupy you.  For less than $40, this is a good buy for either the casual fan or the die hards.



People say the Black Widow has no superpowers.  People would be wrong.




Iron Man: 7.5 out of 10
Doctor Strange:
7.3 out of 10
Hulk Vs
: 7.2 out of 10
Ultimate Avengers:
6.7 out of 10
Ultimate Avengers 2: 6.9 out of 10
Next Avengers: 6.2 out of 10