Iron Man and Hulk: Heroes United
Iron Man and Hulk: Heroes United 2013
It’s the start of December, nearing the end of 2013 and this is the last superhero movie release of the year. It’s also the first straight-to-video release from Marvel using CGI animation rather than the mix of traditional and CG that they’ve used for their past releases. It ends up looking much better than many of the cheap and/or old CGI cartoons of past home video releases and TV shows, but it’s still quite obviously far from the level of a theatrical release and the cheapness of the animation does show. It also felt like it’s aimed at a younger audience with a lot of humor that tends to focus more on slapstick and childish attitudes. Even the voice work has an air of cheapness that doesn’t quite capture the essence of either of the characters. There are some fun moments in the movie enough that I don’t regret watching it, but it really felt a lot more mediocre than I was expecting in more ways than one.
The basic plot revolves around a couple of goons from Hydra capturing Hulk and the Abomination to try and create a weapon harnessing Gamma energy, but instead create a life form of pure energy that eventually calls itself Zzzax. Iron Man catches wind of it and ends up teaming with Hulk in order to stop the creature from devouring all the energy of the world. As with Planet Hulk, Bruce Banner doesn’t make a single appearance, instead it’s merely the somewhat intelligent and always angry Hulk through the entire movie, voiced by frequent voice actor Fred Tatasciore and quite probably digitally altered to make it sound deeper and more brutelike, which I don’t think worked in its favor. Meanwhile Iron man is played by Adrian Pasdar, who I typically enjoy but he is just not the right fit for Tony Stark at all, and I don’t think it’s helped by the writing. While both have experience doing voices for their characters in one or more of the Marvel TV shows, it’s a far cry from the live action versions. In this movie Iron Man felt much more like just a plain old jerk rather than a charming wiseass. The rest of the very small cast works out well enough with David Kaye doing a fine job with Jarvis.
The animation itself is a bit of a mixed bag. There are parts of it that does look very stunning. It’s remeniscent of a cell-shaded look, but there aren’t any hard lines anywhere, everything is nice and smooth. Hulk’s face is nice and detailed, and all the special effects regarding the lighting on the Abomination and all the electricity looks great. The biggest problem I had with it with all the time spent on the showyness of it, I thought the finess was lacking. What I mean is that the movement of the characters felt very stiff and robotic, and I’m not talking about the actual robots. And while a lot of the main characters looked decent, the Wendigos later on seemed almost like they were unfinished even as they were supposed to be dark and shadowy.
The plot itself was fairly simplistic with excuses for a whole lot of Hulk Smash all around while littering it with a bunch of childish jokes even though I will admit that a couple towards the end did get a laugh out of me. There were a couple more inspired moments towards the end of the movie, like when Hulk gets temporarily blinded by Zzzax while Iron Man is immobilized and Stark has to be the eyes for Hulk. There’s also a nice little geeky moment near the very end when we get to see Hulk actually get to partially don the Hulkbuster armor. But ultimately it felt like a never ending series of fights. Hulk fighting Abomination, Iron Man fighting Hulk, Iron Man and Hulk fighting possessed robots, Hulk fighting demonic Wendigo beasts, Hulk and Iron Man fighting Zzzax and Stark’s flying fortress. And to top it all off, there’s also a weird preachy message that only comes up a couple times, but when it does it’s totally hitting you over the head with a message about conserving and using renewable energy. It felt just as cheesy as those “Knowing is half the battle” segments in G.I. Joe except these were jammed right in the middle of the movie.
Coming off of the Avengers last year, it’s not a big leap to think that Iron Man and Hulk would be a brilliant pair up. There’s the great scientific comeraderie between Tony and Bruce over the scientific things, and they are also two of the most powerful when fighting enemies on the battlefield. And yet this movie uses none of that dynamic, gets rid of Bruce Banner altogether, makes Tony Stark much more unlikable and antagonistic towards Hulk, and makes Hulk into the more reasonable one on more than one occasion while making him an ineffective brute during the rest of the time. I may be coming down a little too hard on this movie, I didn’t suffer through it by any means, but I believe it was geared towards a much younger audience than I expected it to. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I suppose that has at least a little to do with coming off of a DC Animation high this past year which are geared much older. If you have kids that enjoy the Marvel movies, this should be a great treat for them, but it’s not the same as watching a Marvel theatrical movie only animated. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.