Ultimate Avengers is loosely adapted from the comic series The Ultimates, written by Mark Millar (author of Kick-Ass). The series was set in an alternate universe from the rest of the Marvel comics and re-imagined the characters in a modern and more realistic world similar to ours. The movie begins in 1945, depicting the final mission of Captain America (Justin Gross). Hitler has been defeated but there’s still one secret base left and this one has a nuclear missile aimed at Washington DC. It’s also run by aliens. Captain America thwarts the Nazi-alien scheme at the cost of his life and is lost at sea. In the present, his body is miraculously found frozen in a glacier by Nick Fury (Andre Ware) and a S.H.I.E.L.D. submarine. He’s then thawed out so he can lead a team of super heroes against the alien threat, which has risen again.
The hero line-up consists of Black Widow (Olivia d’Abo), Giant Man, Wasp, Thor, Iron Man, and the Hulk. There are quite a few characters and they don’t all get an equal amount of screen time, though it’s a valiant effort considering the movie’s only 71 minutes long. Thor (David Boat) probably gets the biggest shaft, only appearing in two scenes. The most important members of the team in terms of plot relevance are Captain America and the Hulk, since they’re the only two characters who have their origins covered. For the rest, there’s an implied knowledge of their existence and stories. Giant Man and Wasp (Grey DeLisle) are already married and working on various science projects like controlling ants when we first see them, and the reason for Iron Man’s presence is never explained. Based on the way Tony Stark (Marc Worden) is depicted as a womanizing, hard drinking weapons manufacturer, it seems like being a super hero is merely some kind of cheap thrill. The furthest they get with Thor is an ambiguity about his mental stability. There isn’t much time for character depth in this movie, but it doesn’t stop them from trying to flesh out the characters. Captain America struggles to deal with being in a modern time (everyone he knew is either old or dead, etc.), but he doesn’t brood about it which is sort of refreshing. Giant Man, or Hank Pym (Nolan North), is the team’s jerkoff. He doesn’t really change by the end but then, nobody really does. The most intriguing character is probably Bruce Banner (Michael Massee), who’s fidgety and desperate to prove he’s worth something after his history of violence as the Hulk. Even though the aliens are the big threat on the horizon, the biggest conflict is Captain America getting the team to work together. In their first mission, they fail miserably due to conflicting egos and inability to cooperate with each other.
The animation is somewhat inconsistent, though it’s mostly only noticeable when CG objects like jets and city backgrounds are on-screen. The use of CG clashes with the 2D characters and doesn’t look particularly good anyway. It also leads to some awkward scenes, for instance, when Iron Man is being chased through New York by S.H.I.E.L.D., the city in the background is completely deserted and vacant of human life. It’s as if they had evacuated the entire city prior to the chase. Giant Man even hits him into the ground and still there’s no sign of life anywhere. Other animation oddities include the significant damage on Iron Man’s suit disappearing and reappearing during the final climactic battle and the sometimes bizarre way in which shadows seem to be cast on characters. Although the story isn’t bad and the action scenes, particularly the battle with the Hulk, are well executed, there are some noticeable plot holes to be found in the story, all of which are likely due to the time constraint. The first one appears early on showing Nick Fury answering to his three superiors, who take the form of giant holographic heads. Who they are or why they choose such a goofy way of communicating with him is anyone’s guess, especially since they never appear again. The aliens, called the Chitauri, present another group of questions, mainly concerning the timing of their attack. After being beaten in WWII, why doesn’t it take them so long to launch another attack? When they do, they nearly annihilate the entirety of the S.H.I.E.L.D. forces with very little resistance. It’s as if they were hiding out until the Avengers were ready before they launched another offensive. Other plots holes are obviously left open for time convenience, for instance, how does Iron Man suddenly appear at the secret Avengers meeting? He had previously chosen not to work with them so how he got the location of the room within the enormous S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters is never explained. This same problem applies for the way the Avengers show up to save the S.H.I.E.L.D. base from the alien attack at the end. You could assume that Iron Man, Wasp and Giant Man heard or saw the attack from the city, but how did Thor know about it? In his first scene, he’s protesting against whaling in the middle of the ocean. He’s nowhere near the attack when it happens and it’s never shown that he was contacted in anyway. This could have been easily explained if they had all been given some kind of Avengers signal or communicators or something.
|Captain America battles the Hulk|
Frequent plot holes aside, Ultimate Avengers is an entertaining animated movie. The action is good, the animation isn’t bad, and the voice acting is much better than you’d expect. The best aspect is seeing the iconic group of super heroes saving the world, with all their faults intact. But seriously, who the hell were those giant heads?