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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, April 21, 2014

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In Movies & TV Commentary

"Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United" will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on Tuesday.

Animated film features Iron Man and Hulk in classic team-up


Before the Avengers were a household name, they were a well-known super hero team-up in the pages of Marvel comic books. But before the Avengers existed in the graphic stories, the heroes were on their own, only crossing paths when they were after a common enemy.

The latest animated feature from Marvel, "Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United," explores the combination of brute strength with high-tech gadgetry.

This is the first Marvel animated production fully released while under new ownership, after Disney acquired the property for $4.2 billion in cash and stock in 2009. Through the years, Disney has been honoring existing contracts, and has been buying back parts of the licensing and production rights from other companies.

I had the opportunity to screen the film before its official release on Tuesday.

This feature film on Blu-ray and DVD combo pack doesn't carry the Disney banner, but is released by Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Inc., the Disney-owned firm that handles the distribution of feature films and direct release productions.

While, it may be too much action for the youngest of super hero fans, "Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United," delivers a fun ride that fans of the Disney XD animated series "Marvel's Avengers Assemble" and "Marvel's Hulk and the Agents S.M.A.S.H." would appreciate. The feature, with a PG rating, follows the classic formula that Marvel used in the comic book team-ups in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

First, when the heroes meet, they start with a fight with each other. Think about it, when they don't realize they are on the same side, it is just another person in a strange outfit … which a loner super hero comes across every day on the job. When the Hulk and Iron Man realize they are facing off against a pair of scientists from the evil Hydra, they then are forced to work together to save the world.

The storylines that the super powered pair experience are lifted from some of the best team-up comics featuring the two Avengers teammates before the Avengers existed.

Marvel put an all-star team of its own behind the project with directors, writers and producers who have worked on "Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man," "Batman: The Animated Series," and ABC's hit show "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."

Actors Adrian Pasdar and Fred Tatasciore lend their voices to bring the title characters to life.

In one of the Blu-ray bonus features, Marvel's Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesda has a conversation about the classic comic book team-ups with Marvel.com writer and editor Ryan Penagos, who has more than a million Twitter followers on @AgentM. In the discussion, they talk about how the dynamics between Tony Stark, as Iron Man, is one of the top intellects in the comic book universe, and Dr. Bruce Banner, as the Hulk, is one of the most powerful.

When Zzzax, an energy-eating monster, threatens to drain the world of its power, it takes the two to work together before time runs out.

The truth about comic book characters, is that they resonate with us as humans, because we can relate to the flawed actions and emotions they cope with when placed in extraordinary circumstances. As this animated film presents the iconic characters, the underlying lesson we all can take away is the need to tap into the abilities that each of us bring to work together to solve problems.

Team-ups, in and of itself, don't have to only exist in Marvel stories.

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