by Matt Sernaker, Managing Editor
Getting ready for the live-action release of The Avengers? Lionsgate Home Entertainment has you covered! Assembling for the first time are the Ultimate Avengers Movie Collection and the Marvel Animated Features Collection, featuring adventures of the Ultimate Avengers, as well individual stories focusing on The Hulk, Iron Man, and Doctor Strange!
Ultimate Avengers Collection:
When the world is in danger, it is time to call on The Avengers! Captain America, Giant Man, Wasp, Hulk, Iron Man, and The Black Widow are assembled by Nick Fury to stop an impending alien threat. Can these heroes find a way to work together to save the day? And what connection do these aliens have to a threat from WWII?
Based on The Ultimates, Volume 1, Ultimate Avengers is a great animated interpretation of the comicbook source material. While a few modifications have been made to the story to account for time, the overall story from the comic remains the same. The Ultimates was a modern interpretation of the 60′s origin of The Avengers, and was used as a basis for the upcoming live action release. This is a great starting point for fans new and old!
Ultimate Avengers 2:
The Ultimate Avengers return for a new animated adventure, featuring a new version of The Black Panther! The Chiutari (the aliens from the first adventure) return to threaten the world, and now the Avengers must travel to the country of Wakanda to enlist the aid of their protector, the mysterious Black Panther.
This second adventure diverted from the comics, but was still a fun take on the characters. The interpretation of the Black Panther was new and refreshing, and was very much in line with the updates made in the Ultimates Universe.
What if The Avengers had stopped all of the evil in the world? What if evil returned and destroyed the team? What if only their children survived, leaving them the sole heroes left to avenge their parents, and defeat the creature that killed their parents?
The film starts out by reintroducing the viewers to the classic characters they know and love (Captain America, Iron-Man, Thor, Hulk, Giant-Man, Wasp, Black Widow, Black Panther and Hawkeye), then points out that those characters are long gone thanks to the evil robot Ultron. Now their children must fight off the evil that even the Avengers could not defeat.
The movie itself is a fun ride for any Avengers fan. There are a lot of similar moments to several Marvel story lines from the past 20 years (Hulk: Future Imperfect, The Last Avengers Story, and What If: The Secret Wars…25 Years later). The What If story seems to have heavily influenced this movie more than anything else.
The Next Avengers story really surprised me. The problem you have with a project like this is that you have to be careful not to upset the fan base purchasing the movie. You have to honor the characters along with the background, and just do everything justice. Do I think this movie did that? YES! Without question.
If you do not take the time to watch this you will be missing out on a great Avengers installment.
Marvel Animation Collection
Planet Hulk was an adaptation of one of the best Hulk stories in the last decade. What happens when the Hulk becomes too much of a threat to the Earth? SEND HIM INTO SPACE!!!!! Yup. Hulk in space. Trust me, it’s awesome.
Throwing the Hulk into a deadly new setting allowed for the character to grow in ways that we really hadn’t seen before. With a new set of supporting characters and new challenges for our favorite gamma-irradiated hero to face, Planet Hulk brought something new to the table. When it was announced that Marvel would be bringing that epic to the animated medium, fans were extremely excited. Who wouldn’t want to see The Hulk fighting in an alien gladiatorial arena? So did it hold up to expectations? Yes and no.
Yes: The animation was crisp. The source material was handled with care. The actions for the character were clearly defined. So what was the problem with the release? It was incomplete. Consider this film a teaser of what could have been. We get into the action and the adventure of Planet Hulk, only to find that it truly is just half of the story. We never really get to the meat of the 12-issue-arc from the comics, and that was just utterly frustrating. The complete arc allowed The Hulk to not only grow, but THRIVE in an alien landscape where he wasn’t vilified as a monster. We got to once again see what a tragic character The Hulk had become, and by cutting this story short, fans were cheated from seeing a complete masterpiece in animated format. Is it still worth watching? Yes…but just understand that there is a lot more after it. I would highly recommend purchasing the complete Planet Hulk hardcover, so that you can read the continuing adventures of the Hulk on the planet Sakaar, and see what happens after he has become the hero that he was always destined to become.
Invincible Iron Man:
Did you watch the recent release of Iron Man staring Robert Downey JR? Good. Go watch that again and skip this.
You want to know why you should skip this? Ok. I’ll play your game.
Invincible Iron Man, which was the follow up release from Marvel Animation after Ultimate Avengers and Ultimate Avengers 2, took everything previously established in the new Animated Universe and threw it out the window. While Ultimate Avengers releases were mostly based on the Ultimate Universe comics from the last decade, someone decided that they should take a couple of the elements from Iron Man, and do a fresh take on the character.
I really felt that this was the weakest of the Marvel Animated releases. The animation did not hold up to the quality that we had come to expect from the previous Marvel installments. Yes, it does have Iron Man face off against the threat of the Mandarin, but really, the animation was just so disjoined that it was frustrating to watch. I felt that this release was more geared towards a young crowd, but I just had a hard time getting into it.
I like what I’ve seen of the Sorcerer Supreme in his appearances in other Marvel comics, but I haven’t followed his own adventures, or focused a lot of my comic book studies on learning his back story.
Luckily for me, this film covers the origin of Doctor Steven Strange, following him from his life as an elitist surgeon and jerk, through his trials in a secret Tibetan mountain palace owned by the mysterious Ras Al Ghoul, and finally onto the mean streets of Gotham City where he becomes the vigilante crime fighter, Batman.
Oh yeah, Doctor Strange.
Actually the Secret Tibetan Mountain Palace belongs to the aged Sorcerer Supreme, who teaches Strange that all matter in the universe is merely an arrangement of energy that can be ignored by someone with the right mindset. Once he realizes that there is no spoon, Strange learns to jump tall buildings in a single bound and to dodge bullets. With these abilities, Strange defeats the evil agents and escapes the Matrix…
Oh, shoot. Not again.
Where was I? Ok, so Strange is trained to become the successor to the Sorcerer Supreme as the ancient mystic battles an evil entity from another dimension. Things happen, Steven Strange learns to see the world in a whole new way, stops being a jerk and instead becomes a Sorcerer himself.
Overall, I enjoyed this movie, though there were several tiny things that bothered me throughout . As you might have guessed, my biggest problem was that parts of the movie seemed a bit cliche due to certain similarities with other films. There were several points in the movie that were extremely reminiscent of previous Sci-fi or comic book films, with Batman Begins and The Matrix coming to mind throughout the film. Not that there is much the filmmakers could have done about it, as I believe that the Dr. Strange comic tackled some of these themes before these other high profile movies did, but it did make me take the film a little less seriously.
I do think that it was a new take on Doctor Strange, and while it felt like we had seen elements of this tale before, I think it would be a good starting point to consider for a live action adaptation down the line.
Features on Marvel Animated Features Collection and Ultimate Avengers Movie Collection:
With the exception of Planet Hulk and Ultimate Avengers (1 & 2), none of the releases included in these sets had been released previously on Blu-ray in true 1080p. The upconverted DVD to Blu-ray transfers look clean in 1080p, and the audio transfer was crisp to the English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. There were no additional special features included with these releases.
If you haven’t seen these animated Marvel Films, these collections would be the most cost-effective and convenient way to do so. The Ultimate Avengers Collection is the more important of the two releases, mostly because of the direct ties to the new theatrical release of The Avengers, but also because those three stories felt the most complete and entertaining. I still enjoyed Planet Hulk and Doctor Strange, but I really can’t recommend Invincible Iron Man. Blu-ray is definitely the way you want to watch these releases, and as you will see (with the exception of Iron Man) they are pretty consistent in overall quality and entertainment.
ComicsOnline gives the Ultimate Avengers Movie Collection 3-Movie Set and
Marvel Animated Features 3-Movie Collection - 4 Marvel Characters that we want to see more of in Live Action out of 5!
Get your copy of The Ultimate Avengers Movie Collection 3-Movie Set and The Marvel Animated Feature Collection 3-Movie Collection on Blu-ray at Amazon.
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