I imagine that one of the great things about writing for Marvel is getting to play in the epic sandbox of characters and locations they have created over the last several years. They have provided a multitude of heroes and villains, characters that one would never expect to populate the same film. As everybody knows, The Avengers brought this all to the forefront with Iron Man, Hulk , Thor, etc. all populating the screen at the same time. Now that this group has been firmly established, Disney has started creating animated films that experiment with different pairings from this group.
New to Blu-Ray and DVD comes Iron Man and Hulk in Heroes United. There is a lot of potential with these various mash-ups, but I have to say that this particular pairing doesn’t work at all. It’s one of those concepts that sounds great in theory, but the execution is disastrous. It’s hard to identify whether it’s the complete lack of chemistry between these two characters, or whether it’s the generic story. Making matters worse, this film advertises it’s “groundbreaking Marvel CG Animation” which is amongst the ugliest animation I have seen in a long time.
Looking like a subpar video game cut scene, the animation is blocky, overly textured, and completely unable to support the material. There aren’t many locations in the film, but for the most part, they appear very crudely animated as well. Unfortunately, the Blu-Ray picture is so pristine, it really draws attention to just how unpleasant this film is visually.
What little story the film has revolves around Zzzax, an energy creature that comes about because of Hydra, the organization from Captain America, and their attempts at harnessing energy. In battling Zzzax, Hulk and Iron Man must team up on Tony Stark’s Helicarrier where they talk, things get smashed, and audiences get bored. One of the biggest weaknesses of the film is the complete betrayal of the Hulk as a character. There is no “Hulk smash” type dialogue in this project. For some reason, they decided that the Hulk should talk in complete sentences, and he never once becomes Bruce Banner. Nothing more than a giant green character with incredible strength, everything that makes Hulk what he is is negated.
Bonus Clip: Iron Man and Hulk’s Relationship
The voiceover work is relatively weak as well. Adrian Pasdar plays Tony Stark/Iron Man almost as a child. After several films of Robert Downey, Jr’s brilliant portrayal, it’s disheartening to hear the character reduced to such Saturday morning cartoon style line deliveries. I get that this is a film for kids, but they are building upon a world that has already been created, and in doing so, are not doing the source material justice.
This is a very different entity than that of the live-action films. The story in this film isn’t going to be taken as canon in the live-action films, and likewise, there doesn’t appear to be much correlation the other way around. I suppose if the mere presence of Iron Man and Hulk makes you happy, then you might enjoy this film. However, I was hoping for a more creative mix-and-match of the characters.