Seemingly from nowhere Marvel released a new animated feature starring the Avenger’s femme fatale and Marvel’s super kill guy, Black Widow and the Punisher. Though they’ve seemingly taken over the world, Marvel’s been incredibly hit or miss with their animation releases and quality. With a current animation line up consisting of lesser quality shows, and their last direct release being Thor: Tales of Asgard in 2011, it was unclear what to make of this. Spoiler, it was bad.
Bad might be a little harsh, but there was certainly more of that than good. The Punisher (Brian Bloom), on an op of his own, butts heads with S.H.I.E.L.D., who’s interested in a longer game, finding the supplier of the latest super soldier. After being arrested by S.H.I.E.L.D., he’s given a chance for redemption by working with Black Widow (Jennifer Carpenter) to hunt down Leviathan, a new terrorist organization. Also, the Avengers appear at the very end.
The film has an anime style, done by prominent Japanese study Madhouse (Ninja Scroll, Trigun). This isn’t the first time the House of Ideas dabbled in the format. Both Wolverine and Iron Man had an anime series, though they both suffered from poor characterization but with strong animation. While the animation is solid, normal anime tropes are abound with quick dashes, hair blowing in the wind, posses, etc. Again, not bad, just not what I want from a Marvel movie.
Brian Bloom does a fantastic job as the Punisher, having fun with the role while delivering solid line. Jennifer Carpenter is abhorrent, which is sad considering the solid work she’s done on Dexter. She constantly sounded dull, bored, and emotionless. There were a few moments, like during her scene with Amadeus Cho, where she seemed more engaged, but it was still overall poorly acted. Aside from that, she seemed completely mismatched for the character, at least this iteration. Black Widow was constant in spunky anime girl posses, which after years of watching the genre conditioned me to expect some high pitch chipper tone. The body language did not match the voice.
On the subject of Black Widow, did every establishing shot need to show off her ridiculous breasts or ass? Both looked poised to explode from her torso.
The script, penned by comic writer Marjorie Liu, was weak. A S.H.I.E.L.D. agent went rogue, creating super soldiers to sell on the black market because Black Widow didn’t show she loved him? At least this stayed in line with the typical nonsense that accompanies this sort of animation. The final battle was perhaps the worst part. The Avengers, which now included War Machine and Captain Marvel, complete with her stupid hair, arrived to essentially beat Stormtroopers. I know animation costs money, but having the bad guy super army stand motionless as the Avengers beat the snot out of them completely undersells the story. Several villains appeared that I needed to look up, also. Twice during the climax they used the same 2D models on panning 3D background used in Justice League: War. Maybe more akin to Dragonball Z: Battle of Gods. It was bad.
I was excited to have a new Marvel animation to tear into, but now I regret my purchase. This is for anime fans, not Marvel fans. Considering the level of violence, and overt sexualization of Black Widow, I wouldn’t show this to my kids. Anyone want to buy a movie?
Did you enjoy this more than I did? Didn’t know this existed? Comment below!
Live action yes, animation, no.