Out on Tuesday, December 3, is a new original-to-home-video Marvel animated movie, Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United. It runs an hour and 12 minutes and is recommended only for kids, who won’t have any expectations beyond seeing superheroes bash on each other.
The whole thing looks cheap. Some scenes are static, with little visible movement, and the character designs appear plastic and artificial. The highlighting on Hulk’s muscles is particularly exaggerated, making him look multi-colored. The characters appear layered, as though they’re not in the same space as the items or other beings around them. It’s kind of amazing, how computers have been used to cut corners so that this cartoon at times looks as bad as something from the 70s.
It’s all about the battles, as the Hulk takes on the Abomination and Iron Man battles his own Hulkbuster armor as a product test. Then Zzzax, an energy being, appears to suck down the world’s electricity, and the two heroes fight, then team up to bash on some robots. Zzzax takes over Iron Man’s inventions and spare suits, providing more non-human characters to beat up.
Plot points are visible from a mile away, another reason I suspect this is aimed solely at the youngsters. They don’t have the experience with storytelling to make the cliches and predictability so visible to them. The Hulk voice (Fred Tatasciore) is great, gravelly and powerful, but Tony Stark (Iron Man, voiced by Adrian Pasdar) sounds like a teenager, not a super-smart businessman.
There is a nice sequence late in the film where the two heroes have to help each other out because both are impeded in significant ways. That interaction allows for some character moments beyond punching or zapping things. For the most part, though, it was a chore to get through this animated movie.
As with the theatrical live-action movies, there’s a short scene after the credits promoing a Captain America/Iron Man mission. Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United comes with a Blu-ray, a DVD, a digital copy code, a free digital comic offer, and an offer for a free Iron Man MiniMate (if you pay $2.59 shipping). Special features include “Inter-Missions”, redialogued old Marvel cartoons making fun of She-Hulk or Iron Man that appear when you pause the movie. More of the same are available from the special features, with three “Marvel Mash-Ups” that total of two minutes. There’s also “Marvel Team-Up With Ryan Penagos and Joe Q”, 11 1/2 minutes of the two promoting Marvel and talking about past character team-ups. (The studio provided a review copy.)