Recently, Disney and Marvel released Marvel’s Iron Man & Captain America: Heroes United on Digital HD, On-Demand and Disney Movies Anywhere. This is a sequel of sorts to the first “Heroes United” title that feature Iron Man and Hulk that was released last fall. While the second installment improves from the initial release, the film’s strengths and weaknesses of both films are the same.
The first thing you notice about the film, is the animation. Too be blunt, it is terrible. The action sequences and sets are fine, and there are some nice “artistic” scenes but the character animation is so bad it is distracting. There is no acting in the face, and to be frank, the lips don’t sync up. The film benefits when the action is focused on Iron Man and Taskmaster as they both wear masks.
If you watch the Marvel shows on Disney XD, you see that that marvel is able to execute animation. I don’t understand why they picked this form that lives in the awkward valley between motion comics and full animation. I would much prefer a special 2-hour episode “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble” with its full-animation. Interestingly enough the voice cast that is led by Roger Craig Smith (Captain America) and Adrian Pasdar (Iron Man) is retained from the Disney XD Universe of Marvel Animation. Trivia time, can anyone name which live-action character Pasdar portrayed on ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? If you said Colonel Glenn Talbot you win a S.H.I.E.L.D. lanyard. Pick it up from Agent Koenig.
The story is far superior to the animation. The film features twists and turns and some decent characterization as Captain America and Iron Man are ally’s with two very different styles. It was also nice to see the Red Skull again. He is such a fun villain. Seeing him again makes me hope he will return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the near future. The film’s plot neither takes place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe of the Marvel Animated Universe, which is not a deal-breaker for me. It is it’s own story that uses familiar characters and settings. Though I can’t help but wonder if Marvel would have more success if their direct-to-video efforts would be more successful if they fit in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Think of a 2 hour animated Marvel one-short that fills the gaps of the Marvel films.
Due to the limited promotion of this title and it’s stealth release, Iron Man & Captain America: Heroes United feels like it is being dumped into the marketplace. Perhaps the initial film in the franchise underperformed and with the sequel already in production, they just figured they would cut their loses. One interesting bit about the film is that the score is taken from other Marvel live-action and animated films. It is as if they were just using the film’s scratch track after deciding not to invest in an original score.
It’s a shame as the film is not THAT bad. The fun plot that is more comic-book in tone than other film adaptations distracts somewhat from the terrible animation. I hope this is not the end of Marvel animated feature-length films. This is the only medium where DC is beating Marvel in terms of creative output.
All-in-all, I will give the film 2 out of 4 hellicarriers. I wish I could say it was better, but it was not.