The Marvel universe is made up of many superheroes, only a fraction of which have turned up in movies. In the last few years, Marvel started to make straight to DVD animated movies featuring characters not in other movies yet. The first of those movies, Ultimate Avengers, introduced the characters who made up the Avengers team. It was followed up by the second of the animated movies from Marvel, Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise of the Panther.
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The members of the Avenger team seemed to have gone their own ways after dealing with the Chitauri aliens. They believed that they had stopped the Chitauri, but it turned out that they hadn’t. The Chitauri seem to be targeting Wakanda, an isolated country in Africa that didn’t have connections to the outside world. The King would also act as the Black Panther, the protector of Wakanda. Prince T’Challa returned home after studying in another country. The Chitauri attacked right after he returned, and his father was killed. T’Challa became the new king and Black Panther. T’Challa soon realized that he needed help in dealing with the situation even though the elders did not want any outside interference.
T’Challa went to get advice from Captain America since he was thought to have killed Herr Kleiser during World War II. Kleiser was actually a shapeshifting Chitauri. Steve, who was having some issues with adjusting to life in a different time, wanted to deal with Kleiser himself once and for all. Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D decided to get the Avengers together to investigate what was going on around Wakanda. The team was incomplete and had their own issues to deal with though. Nick was having trouble getting in touch with Thor, whose father didn’t want him to do interfere on Earth. Hank and Janet Pym were having trouble in their marriage, mostly due to Hank’s bad attitude. Tony was still dealing with his heart injury and Bruce was locked up since the Hulk had gone on a rampage.
Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise of the Panther was based on the Ultimate Avengers comic books like the first movie was. I haven’t read any of those comic books, so I don’t know how close to the source material the plot stayed. I don’t know much about several of the characters either, so I don’t know how close they were to the versions in the comic books either. I did enjoy the movie and think that people who aren’t that familiar with the Avengers in general can also enjoy this movie. Several things won’t make as much sense if Ultimate Avengers isn’t watched first though.
Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise of the Panther picked up sometime after the end of the first movie. I’m not sure how much time had passed, but I don’t think it had been that long. Some of the characters were still dealing with issues that tied back to the first movie. Steve was still trying to find a way to live in a completely different time. He was a bit obsessed with his work and really didn’t have a life away from it. Bruce was paying the price for trying to use the super solider serum to control the Hulk and struggling with his guilt over what had happened. Hank was still having some attitude issues which seemed to have gotten worse. He did seem like he was jealous of Steve and Tony, especially if Janet talked to either man. Even though an entirely new element was added with Wakanda and the Black Panther, the plot was still very connected to the first movie, especially once it was clear that the Chitauri were still a threat.
There was a decent amount of action in Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise of the Panther, most of which was provided by the various fights that the characters got into. All of the Avengers ended up fighting with the Chitauri at some point, and some were injured. The fights did get violent and that really wasn’t glossed over. A lot of blood was shown at different times. It was very violent for an animated movie, which is why it was rated PG-13. This is not a movie for young children even though it is animated.
The animation was fine without being anything special. It wasn’t horrible, but it certainly isn’t the best I’ve seen in recent years. It was no where near as impressive as what Pixar has been creating, but I didn’t expect that either. The animation was good, though it could have been better. The character movements weren’t as smooth as they could have been in many cases. The majority of the animation was the traditional hand drawn with some computer animation used here and there. Sometimes it blended in fairly well when that was done and other times it really stood out. The animation was the same quality from the first movie.
Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise of the Panther hinted that there were growing feelings between Steve and Black Widow without much being done with that aspect of the plot. It was made very clear that she had feelings and was trying to help Steve deal with his issues while he was trying to handle everything alone. I have no idea if those two ever developed a relationship in the comic books or not. There really weren’t any sexual situations, but she was wearing a dress at one point that barely covered her. At least the animators didn’t add in some female nudity hidden by fog or smoke like they did in Invincible Iron Man. Bruce and Betty’s relationship was briefly touched on without there being any resolution there either. Really all that was shown between Hank and Janet was that they were having problems, mostly because of his ego and attitude. They were mostly shown arguing, but they did still care about each other.
There was some more shared about Thor and the fact that his father Odin didn’t want him helping fight the Chitauri because that would be interfering. I really knew nothing about the character before seeing the first movie. At that point, basically all I knew was that he had a big hammer, so it was nice to learn a little more about him and the fact that his father wanted him to return to Asgard where the other Norse Gods lived. There as only a little bit of time devoted to Hank and Janet, so I still don’t feel like I know much of anything about them.
Steve was important to what was going on without being the main focus or as important as he was in the first movie. It was interesting to see him try to deal with his new life in a different time. Black Widow was around frequently without much of anything being shared about her. It didn’t seem like Nick was around as much and there really wasn’t anything new introduced about him. Tony was just sort of there and there wasn’t anything added for his character either. He did use a different sort of armor that he called the War Machine. I believe that name was used for a different character in an armored suit in the comics. Bruce had been locked up because of the rampage that the Hulk went on after using the serum. He was trying to deal with the guilt over what had happened and also try to find a way to help when no one trusted him anymore. Betty was around as well and she was having trouble with her feelings for Bruce and what he had done as the Hulk. Their element of the movie was more interesting than some of the others and it would have been nice if some more time could have been devoted to them.
T’Challa, his work as the Black Panther and his home of Wakanda were introduced in the movie. I hadn’t heard of the Black Panther before this movie came out, so it was interesting to see a new character. Wakanda was a secluded country in Africa that didn’t trust outsiders for the most part. Certain aspects of their lives seemed primitive, but there was more to them than there seemed to be at first. Since I haven’t read any comics featuring Black Panther or Wakanda, I have no idea if the way he and his country were depicted were accurate. Several others in Wakanda were shown without being developed. Since there were so many characters in the relatively short movie, some of them weren’t used very much.
David Boat - Thor
Olivia d’Abo - Black Widow
Grey DeLisle - Wasp/Janet Pym
Justin Gross - Captain America/Steve
Nan MacNamara - Betty Ross
Michael Massee - Dr. Bruce Banner
Nolan North - Giant Man/Hank Pym
Jeffrey D Sams - Black Panther/T’Challa
Fred Tatasciore - The Hulk
Andre Ware - Nick Fury
Marc Worden - Iron Man/Tony Stark
Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise of the Panther was released straight to DVD. The movie is in the widescreen format on the DVD I have. I don’t know if there is also a full screen version. The Ultimates is a featurette that had the men who worked on the comic books talking about working on the comic book and what things they decided to focus on. They also talked a bit about Marvel’s decision to make an animated movie with their version of the characters. I did think the featurette was interesting. There was a gag reel that wasn’t anything special as well as first looks at Invincible Iron Man and Doctor Strange. There was also a DVD-ROM game that I haven’t tried.
Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise of the Panther was another entertaining animated movie from Marvel. People who enjoyed the first movie or who are fans of the characters in general should give the movie a chance.
This review is part of elvisdo’s 2008 Funny Pages Write-Off.
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