Directed by: Curt Geda, Steven E. Gordon, Bob Richardson | 72 minutes | action, animation, adventure, science fiction | Actors: Justin Gross, Gray DeLisle, Michael Massee, Olivia d’Abo, Marc Worden, Nan McNamara, Nolan North, Andre Ware, David Boat, Fred Tatasciore
What would happen if our cold frog country were attacked by malicious aliens? Can you already picture the fact that Dutch comic book heroes such as Fokke & Sukke and the Doorzon family join forces to establish themselves as the protectors of our country? Probably not, but then again, what do those heroes pulled out of the clay actually have to say? Then America is better off with stout, overly muscled iron eaters like Captain America and Iron Man. In ‘Ultimate Avengers’, the comic characters team up with a number of other heroes to fight an alien invasion. Avengers assemble!
In ‘Ultimate Avengers’ you will meet the mysterious Steve Rogers aka Captain America. The blonde American is used during World War II to boost the morale of the American troops. The brave super soldier manages to save the world from a nuclear explosion in a heroic attempt. Dazed, Cap falls into the icy sea of Norway where he freezes over. Rogers’ body takes sixty years to be found, miraculously, the hero is still alive. After a crash course in ‘leadership’, Cap is allowed to give orders to a team of superheroes. The world is threatened by Aliens. Easier said than done, because Rogers can forge a well-oiled team of individualistic people like Thor, Black Widow, Iron Man, Wasp, Hulk and Giant Man? Every member will have to put his or her ego aside and be willing to cooperate, but whether that works… The Hulk, in particular, has difficulty with authority.
‘Ultimate Avengers’ is based on the comics series ‘The Ultimates’. The latter series is a retelling of the classic ‘Avengers’ comics that have been published by Marvel publishing house for decades. In our country the adventures of Captain America & co have appeared under the name ‘De Vergelders’. Here, the colorful characters may not be as well known as, say, Spider-Man or Batman, but in their homeland the leotard-wearing powerhouses are very popular. Whether the cartoon about the superheroes will win many souls in our cold frog country is quite unlikely. The Avengers are too ‘hardcore’ for the average viewer.
To enjoy this cartoon you will have to swallow a lot of nonsense. The film starts in a bizarre way, Captain America fights against the Nazis who actually turn out to be aliens. As if that wasn’t enough, you’ll also meet a lot of strange characters like the Norse god Thor and the giant Giant Man. The cast will be introduced to you in no time. Due to the fast tempo, not all characters are equally well portrayed. Giant Man, for example, resembles the cocky Iron Man in terms of attitude. The arrogant Thor is also an average macho. Only in appearance will the layperson be able to tell the different egos of the company apart. If you are familiar with the comics, you will be able to place the subtle differences better. The relationship between Wasp and Giant Man seems a bit tense. If you know the comics, you will know that their fragile relationship ultimately results in abuse. The cartoon makes it slumbering that the two have serious marital problems, but the film does not go into it really deeply. So every character has his or her problems that just don’t come to life in this story.
You have to know the cartoons if you want to know what exactly is going on. The only characters that will be explored are Captain America and Bruce Banner aka the Hulk. After being frozen for sixty years, Cap has lost almost all his friends, to make matters worse, the world as he knows it has completely changed. Nothing is familiar. Banner grapples with other problems. The doctor is in constant battle with himself: the stake is the Hulk. The fierce green monster lurks in the pacifist Bruce and can ‘break out’ at any moment. Banner is committed to preserving his humanity and continuing his normal life as best as possible. Thanks to this duo, the film remains interesting, because the essence of these comic book heroes is so well captured.
Visually, ‘Ultimate Avengers’ may well be. The colors are sleek and the image is sharp. Unfortunately, the animation is not convincing across the board. Especially in the beginning of the film, movements look wooden and unnatural. Only towards the end does the cartoon start to burn when the Hulk comes trotting up. The green giant is convincingly animated and full of detail. As cool as the heroes are, the villains are uninspired. The aliens lack their own identity. The Marsians don’t look fanciful. A flamboyant Marvel villain like ‘Red Skull’ or ‘Galactus’ had spiced up the movie. Now the bad guys leave you cold and that could never have been the intention.