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Ultimate Avengers: The Movie (2006)
Directors: Curt Geda and Steven E. Gordon

review by Ian R. Faulkner

The plot of Ultimate Avengers: The Movie concerns the coming together of Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Giant Man and the Wasp, and tells of how they, with a little help from the Hulk, save the world from an invasion of evil aliens led by a Nazi shapeshifter (voiced by Jim Ward) out of Captain America's past.

The movie begins during World War II where Captain America (voiced by Justin Gross) is on a mission to find a Nazi super-weapon. Whilst fighting the good fight to stop Hitler's goons from launching said weapon, Cap unexpectedly stumbles upon a bunch of aliens. In order to save the day he climbs onboard the missile, which subsequently explodes and tosses him into the ocean where he becomes frozen and locked in an iceberg.

Jump cut to the present day and the head of S.H.I.E.L.D, Nick Fury (voiced by Andre Ware), and Professor Betty Ross (voiced by Nan McNamara) are in a submarine in search of Cap's body. Of course they don't expect him to be alive and are only after his body in order to reclaim the mystery of the super-soldier serum so that the Hulk's alter ego, Bruce Banner (voiced by Michael Massee), can restart the programme that turned Steve Rogers in Captain America in the first place.

A fortuitous turn of events finds Captain America not only alive, but, once he is removed from the ice and reawakened, only too happy to step up as leader of the Avengers and continue fighting for his country against the return of the alien horde.

Ultimate Avengers: The Movie was the first of the Marvel animated features to hit the DVD market and, given it was based on the best-selling comicbook The Ultimates written by Mark Millar and featuring the jaw-dropping art of Bryan Hitch, it was always going to be a tough sell to the fan boys (and I'm including myself here). That said, like the Captain, they stepped up and did a pretty decent job.

The movie follows the comicbook script pretty well, dealing with Millar and Hitch's complex first story-arc without being a slavish reproduction. It does veer away at times, but this is no bad thing, as throughout the writing remains first rate and always treats the source material with respect, whilst recognising the nature of its audience and medium. It's not perfect and, in truth, I didn't expect it to be, but its flaws are minor in nature - probably the worst of which is the fact certain key characters are not fleshed out enough and feel somewhat less than real (if I can say that about an animated feature), but I think this may well be down to the 71-minute running time rather than anything else. Overall: a good first attempt and well worth a watch.

The special features contain a good potted history of The Avengers comicbook, including interviews with a number industry luminaries, such as Kurt Busiek, Joe Quesada, and Mark Millar; a rather uninteresting feature on the search for the 'ultimate voice talent'; a behind-the-scenes first look at Ultimate Avengers 2; and some Avengers trivia.
Ultimate Avengers the Movie

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