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Case Number 26652: Small Claims Court

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Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United (Blu-ray)

Disney // 2013 // 71 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // December 3rd, 2013

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All Rise...

Judge Clark Douglas is teaming up with a plate of nachos to crush hunger.

The Charge

A must-own movie event that will blow you away!

The Case

Despite the fact that Marvel has more or less run circles around DC in terms of creating a sustainable, entertaining big-screen franchise, DC has managed to outshine Marvel in even more dramatic fashion in the direct-to-video market. While the DCU Animated Universe films have been consistently enjoyable affairs (some better than others, obviously, but there isn't a true dud in the bunch), Marvel's animated movies have largely been awful. Their latest effort is Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United, a CG-animated tale in which two of Marvel's most beloved heroes team up to take down a threat that is bigger than either of them can handle on their own. Spoiler alert: it's terrible.

The basic premise is simple enough (there's a villain named Zzzax who is threatening to destroy the world, so Iron Man and Hulk need to take him out), but the film stuffs a surprising amount of peripheral fan service into its 71-minute running time. You'll witness a battle between Hulk and Abomination, a plot involving HYDRA, Tony Stark's playfully antagonistic relationship with JARVIS and lots of other assorted distractions, but for the most part, the film maintains a solid focus on watching Iron Man and Hulk banter with each other and beat things up. I can get behind that notion, but man, it's all handled so horribly.

The dialogue is consistently cringe-inducing, adopting the "Every sentence ends in an exclamation point!" bombast of early Marvel comics without delivering any of the wit or charm that made those comics so fun. It's bad enough when the film is playing things straight, but the jokes are even worse.

JARVIS (after losing a battle with another piece of Tony Stark's technology): "Congratulations. Your technology has defeated…your technology."
Tony Stark: "Nobody beats me…like me."

Yeah, no thanks.

The dialogue is annoying (even moreso than it might have been thanks to the middling voice acting), but it's hardly the biggest problem with Heroes United. That prize goes to the CG animation, which looks like cutscenes from a clunky Playstation One game remastered in HD. The character movements are jerky and weird—observe the way Hulk floats like a feather when he's spinning through the air. Without any fluidity or weight to the animation, we can never escape the feeling that we're watching digital puppets. This is an ugly-looking movie, below the standard of many cheaply-produced Saturday morning cartoons. Still, unsuspecting parents will buy it for their eager kids, because superheroes!

Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United (Blu-ray) looks fine, I guess. It's a little difficult to separate my strong dislike of the film's visual style with the general quality of the Blu-ray release, but it does look sharp. Detail is strong throughout (the characters occasionally look decent when they're completely still) and there isn't any significant banding. The DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio track is certainly explosive enough, offering all sorts of crashes and bangs as our heroes pummel one bad guy after another. It isn't nearly as complex or aggressive as one of the big-screen Marvel movies, but it's fairly engaging. Supplements include an insufferable "Marvel Mash-Ups" featurette (which fuses together clips of old cartoons featuring Iron Man and Hulk) and a "Marvel Team-Up with Ryan Penagos and Joe Quesada" featurette, in which the two Marvel employees talk about their favorite superhero pairings. The latter is decent, which is to say that it's easily the best thing on the disc. You also get a DVD Copy and a digital copy.

In fairness, Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United is just competent enough to keep the starry-eyed, superhero-loving youngsters entertained, but kids deserve so much better than this. Marvel Animated certainly has the creative and financial resources to step up their game in this department (just look at their television show Wolverine and the X-Men), but this is the latest in an increasingly sizable pile of straight-to-DVD duds from the venerable company. Too bad.

The Verdict


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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 20

Perp Profile

Studio: Disney
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
• English (SDH)
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 71 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Action
• Adventure
• Animation
• Bad
• Blu-ray
• Family
• Superheroes

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurettes
• DVD Copy
• Digital Copy


• IMDb

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