Marvel’s second direct-to-video animated film is an improvement on the first in many ways.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Justin Gross as Steve Rogers / Captain America
Grey DeLisle as Janet Pym / The Wasp
Michael Massee as Bruce Banner
Marc Worden as Tony Stark / Iron Man
Olivia d’Abo as Natalia Romanoff / Black Widow
Nan McNamara as Betty Ross
Nolan North as Hank Pym / Giant Man
Andre Ware as Nick Fury
David Boat as Thor
Fred Tatasciore as Hulk, Jarvis and others
Jim Ward as Kerr Kleiser
Jeffrey D. Sams as T’Challa / Black Panther

Written by Craig Kyle and Greg Johnson.
Directed by Will Meugniot and Richard Sebast.

Complete information is usually available from the IMDB, but at the time of this writing, (10:28 PM MT, August 14, 2006) they don’t list Sams in the voice cast, and they’ve got the directors from the original listed instead of the sequel.

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Premise

Shortly after the first movie ends, the Chitauri resurface in Wakanda. The Avengers meet the Black Panther as they reunite to run the defense.

High Point

The best part of the movie is the level of maturity that’s grown. Not only do minor characters die, but major characters die. (ie. not all of the Avengers are alive at the end, and not in the “presumed dead, but we didn’t find the body” way, but in the “here’s the body that we’ve had a chance to autopsy and bury” way.) The best part of the entire DVD package is the gag reel in the special features menu. (I’m suddenly in the mood for ribs…)

Low Point

The Black Panther learns that a man thought dead decades ago is really an alien who is alive and well. He then learns that another man from the same era who was once thought dead is alive and well in the States. The conclusion he draws seems to be the exact opposite of the conclusion I’d expect him to draw in that situation.

The Scores

The originality improves with this effort. Some character moments are still taken from the comics, but the plot is now its own, and the continuity has become rather distinct from the previous incarnations of these characters. I give it 4 out of 6.

The animation is much like that of the original in the series. The two dimensional characters are sometimes weak, but the CGI and animation effects are quite good. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story has only the one major glitch mentioned above when it comes to plots and character motivation. With a run time of 73 minutes, it’s not like they were running too long. They could have done a lot more to build a relationship and earn trust between the two central characters. That part, though not without its trials, still feels too easy. I give it 4 out of 6.

The voice acting feels better this time around, primarily because of improvements from Justin Gross as Captain America. He comes across as being considerably more authoritative this time around. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response for this one is a definite improvement. Unlike the original, I have confidence that this will have effective character moments for fanboys and newcomers alike. For once, existing attachments to the characters are not prerequisites. We’ve got some very personal situations mixed in with the larger picture. I give it 5 out of 6.

The production is well done again, keeping in line with the tone and efforts of the original, maintaining a tight pace. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, Marvel’s second effort at in-house animated productions is showing that a lot of the initial growing pains have been overcome, and that they’ll be able to churn out some high quality product in the coming days. Things bode well for the previously announced Iron Man and Dr. Strange animated projects. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Ultimate Avengers 2 receives 32 out of 42.