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Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher Review

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Two deadly characters have to team up against a bigger threat. Of course they're not going to get along.

We need more Marvel animated features. There is a lot to like here. This movie takes two characters that aren't known for playing nicely with others and forces them to come together. We're used to the action in animated features being a little toned down. With the anime feel from Madhouse, we get a very stylized movie that doesn't hold back.

The movie opens with the Punisher. Immediately you might find yourself asking, is he a hero or a murderer? I mentioned the violence. This movie earns its PG-13 rating. We see people get shot, blood flying, and throats slashed. It's exactly what the Punisher is capable of. I was scratching my head at one point at just how fast he was capable of moving in one fight scene. But what can you do? His design is pretty solid and he plows through the bad guys.

There is some nice animation. I am a fan of most anime and there's something about the whole presentation. The lighting and color gives it all a different feel from the traditional animated features. Of course, if you're not a fan of anime, you might have some problems with this feature.

Black Widow's presentation had some problems. While the voice-acting for her was done well, it kind of didn't sound right for her. Of course she's really curvy. It's unfortunate but, of course, there are some that are okay with this sort of portrayal. It looked as if her waist was super-thin and being able to stand up against Punisher in a fight was impressive with no visible muscle tone. There's also a couple butt shots that had to be included for whatever reason.

The story deals with Nick Fury putting these two together to try to infiltrate and stop an organization called Leviathan. They each have their own motives and the story of each is fleshed out throughout the story. At some points, they end up working separately which makes it feel like we have two separate stories going on.

There are a lot of cameos in the movie despite being a Black Widow/Punisher movie. You'll be happy to see an army of different super-villains that pop up. Of course the Avengers do show up as well but it's interesting that, despite a certain Marvel Studios movie about to be released, Captain America was not on the scene.

Special Features

Exclusive to the Blu-ray is a Conceptual Art Gallery. It was interesting to see a certain blonde female Avenger designed in both her old and current costume. It's a simple scroll left or right feature. (As I was watching on my PS4, for the life of me, I couldn't get out of the feature without turning off the disc and then restarting it.)

There's a nine minute feature, The Vigilante Vs. the Spy. We hear from Joe Quesada and others about the history of the characters in the comics and how they have had some team-ups in the past, they haven't been the traditional sort.

There's also a ten minute Espionage and Punishment feature. This looks more at the who the characters are compared to each other in the film.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie. Marjorie Liu's story brought the characters together nicely and accomplished what the movie needed. There's plenty of action and drama. The characters have some depth added (more so with Black Widow) to make them more relatable. Some scenes got a little outrageous (Punisher fighting a squad of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents) and the inclusion of the Avengers at the end felt a little forced. But these are things expected in the movie. Black Widow's character design could have been beefed up a little but again, that's the style of the genre.

I would like to see more movies in this style. The anime gives it a different feel from what we're used to in comic book features. The fast paced and stylized action really moves things along nicely. Yes, there are some problems but it's a good movie to sit back, watch, and enjoy.

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Edited by Jonny_Anonymous

Leviathan was a cool faction in in Secret Warriors, they should be used more.

Posted by Oscars94

I enjoyed it but the mouth movements were kind of distracting. I found it weird the effects that happened when Black Widow and Punisher fought, dust as if they were using super speed. There's one clip that had me completely baffled. The enemies were being controlled so Frank said he couldn't kill them, he used his fighting skills instead. A minute later Hulk, Thor, War Machine and Iron Man don't hold back , literally killing them all. Apart from these flaws I really enjoyed it.

Edited by 2cool4fun

Another marvel anime? I mean Marvel anime have some quality animation, like they really put a lot of effort into making their anime look good. And it's especially seen with Iron Man's movie. But their anime as a whole nothing special...

Edited by Jonny_Anonymous

@2cool4fun: It's not a Marvel anime, it's just how they make there animated movies now.

Posted by Ultron345

Pretty much agree with the rating. Madhouse continuing to do Marvels animation is nothing short of a blessing. Very typical cookie cutter plot is the problem here. The ending was good and finally delivered on the action. 3/5 for me personally. An Avengers animated film done by Madhouse is the next logical step, and I am excited for it.

Edited by MatKrenz

Frank looks really odd. I don't think this art style fits him.

Edited by cobra88king8

@jonny_anonymous: Yes it is. It was animated by Madhouse and Liu's script was rewritten by Mitsutaka Hirota who's worked on the other Marvel anime. I personally thought both were cheap and didn't enjoy the experience of this film at all

Edited by Maddpanda531

I'm loving the use of eastern-styled animation in Marvel's animated features.

Edited by Jonny_Anonymous

@cobra88king8: Yes but what I'm saying this isn't Marvel Anime as in the same thing as the X-Men and Wolverine anime series, instead this is just how they are making Marvel animated movies now.

Edited by SlickyMike88

I really like this portrail of Frank, and that voice :)

Edited by G-Man
Edited by longbowhunter

Been a while since I watched a Marvel animated feature. Maybe I'll check this out this weekend.

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous
Edited by Rainja

I say 4/5. This is a good movie overall and THE best marvel has ever put out. I have a few gripes yea but nothing big. It's way better than that Atrocious Ironman movie they put out before. We'll done Marvel. Just please be consistent.

Edited by powerplay

@jonny_anonymous: This. I never understood why Leviathan was never tied into the Winter Soldier mythos. In addition to both being USSR espionage tools, they both use giant tubes to go into cryosleep. Seems like an easy connection to make

Edited by iceslick

@g_man: I very much agreed with your review. I really enjoyed the movie and I like The Punisher and Black Widow's relationship. I also did like the love story she had with Elias. The action and animation was top notch too. The only disappointment was that the Avengers and the villains felt way too briefed. I would give it 4 stars. Funny thing I was gonna ask you if you saw it on the podcast, it's a good thing I see you reviewed, because I think great movie needed more attention and be brought.

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Edited by Wyrmdog

My biggest problem with the one Madhouse Marvel show I've seen (the X-Men series set in Japan) was that the action sequences possessed HUGE tracts where the characters stood around and endlessly pontificated while bad guys escaped or stood around waiting for them to do things. It was so bad that the final four episodes could have been condensed into one without losing anything at all.

A lot of anime suffers from this problem now that I think about it, but it stood out here a lot. It had other issues but that was probably the most glaringly awful one.

Does this one have that same issue?

Edited by zabrewolf

not so good but better than a lot of DC movies, good to see diferent characters and not the same like ironman, thor.

Edited by AllStarSuperman
Edited by cobra88king8
Posted by AllStarSuperman

@cobra88king8: oh okay, thanks, I didnt know, cause both the Logans look different IIRC.

Edited by Jonny_Anonymous

@powerplay: Hopefully if the WInter Soldier gets a new ongoing (my hope is for Edmondson too write it) then they will make that connection

@jonny_anonymous said:

@cobra88king8: X-Men and Wolverine anime series

I had only scene an episode of each, are they canon with each other?

Na, this is what Wolverine looks like in his show:

And this is how he looks in X-Men:

Edited by Super_SoldierXII

Not a terrible review. But, why all the hate for the TnA in the review? Only one comic book nerd that I know of indifferent to a good ole healthy dose of gratuitous TnA in our comic book reads and that's Sheldon Cooper.

Even he's fictional.

Let them gluteus maximus' wriggle and them mammary glands wiggle I say!!

Posted by G-Man

@super_soldierxii: I just personally don't seek TnA in comic or animated form. It's not hate, just not necessary to this extreme. I think Black Widow looks great in the current comic drawn by Phil Noto. When the proportions are worse than a Barbie dolls, it's a little distracting to the viewing. The way she fights against the Punisher, she doesn't look like she has an ounce of fat or muscle on her body. I would think people aren't buying this just for a super-thin Black Widow. I could be wrong though.

Posted by cobra88king8

@jonny_anonymous: But in Iron Man Wolverine crosses over and talks about his own show

Posted by iceslick

@g_man I agree about the TnA about Black Widow, but that's how most anime cultures portray females mostly. So, I try my best to ignore it. I hope it does change someday though and considering how comic fans look at Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow lately, I can definitely seeing them buying this for that reason alone. Comic book fans are the number one perverts, lol.

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Edited by War Killer

@powerplay: Hopefully if the WInter Soldier gets a new ongoing (my hope is for Edmondson too write it) then they will make that connection

Is this just hopeful thinking or has something been mentioned recently that WS might be getting a new series? I actually wouldn't mind seeing Bucky get a new series and having him face off against Leviathan.

Edited by Hawkguy

Although this wasn't the worst Marvel animated movie, I'm still confused as to why they don't borrow from their rich comic background. They make those animated comics and while that carries over amazing storylines such as Astonishing X-Men I can't help but wish the animation was on par with what DC offers.

The anime style is so distracting and feels so out of place here. What I like about comics is that they make crazy things feel grounded through the art style, from combat to character interation. It just seems like a weird way to spend money as a company that creates comics as opposed to manga.

Posted by Cloakx14

i thought it was good.

Edited by Super_SoldierXII

@g_man said:

@super_soldierxii: I just personally don't seek TnA in comic or animated form. It's not hate, just not necessary to this extreme. I think Black Widow looks great in the current comic drawn by Phil Noto. When the proportions are worse than a Barbie dolls, it's a little distracting to the viewing. The way she fights against the Punisher, she doesn't look like she has an ounce of fat or muscle on her body. I would think people aren't buying this just for a super-thin Black Widow. I could be wrong though.

Don't get me wrong, I see your point and I get that it's a superficial mess and, to and extent, unnecessary to the enjoyment of superhero themed comics.

I get that. I do.

But it's no more disproportionate than having every single male character looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger winning his 7th Mr. Olympia contest. It's all done on an exaggerated, unrealistic, and yeah, somewhat superficial scale, because we all love (and at times love to hate) a healthy dose of idealistic nonsense cooked up in our "hero" ideology along with that splash of realism.

If part of the goal is to protect, or point out the distinct lack of chivalry and / or basic respect for the deeper meaning of what it means to be a beautiful "woman" in today's as yet "man centric" world, then let's not pretend men aren't being pelted just as hard in comic book themed media.

It's all exaggerated. All of it. Not just the bosoms. To conclude, I do respect your right, and personal taste, to draw your line in this film and find too much as just too damn much but disagree with the idea that it's just the female form being treated in an oh so superficial fashion. In my "heroic" fantasy I like it when the women are idealistically proportioned and wouldn't be able to get into a male protagonist who was as scrawny as the aforementioned Sheldon Cooper (unless there was a cool plot twist mind you!).

Posted by jwalser3

I freaking love the Marvel anime.

Posted by CaptainMarvel4Ever

G-Man, thanks so much for reviewing the special features, that's the selling point for me. I was willing to buy this if they showed the animation studio in Japan, or the collaboration between Marvel and Madhouse, but since it looks like that's not included, I'll pass. Again, thank you for including that, it's going the extra distance like that, that makes me love this site :)

Edited by MrMazz

I've rather disliked the majority of the Marvel Madhouse ventures, X-Men anime had some moments but also falls pretty hard.

This is probably the best feature (not series) they've done but it still lacks some key components of quality narrative. I'll write a review tomorrow huzzah for studying for tests.

Cheap Plug to User Review

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Edited by TheMantisShrimp

@g_man said:

@super_soldierxii: I just personally don't seek TnA in comic or animated form. It's not hate, just not necessary to this extreme. I think Black Widow looks great in the current comic drawn by Phil Noto. When the proportions are worse than a Barbie dolls, it's a little distracting to the viewing. The way she fights against the Punisher, she doesn't look like she has an ounce of fat or muscle on her body. I would think people aren't buying this just for a super-thin Black Widow. I could be wrong though.

I couldn't agree more. If people want a more sexy barbie doll version of Black Widow thats fine. But I would rather have the Phil Noto version. I find the overly sexed versions simply unnecessary.

@super_soldierxii, I think Tony and others who dislike inproportionate/sexy female depictions in comics believe that women are more objectified then men (not to say that men are not objectified). The best way I can visually explain this is by looking at the following compilation of art that satirically shows what it might look like if men were depicted in Superhero comics in a similar way to women.

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2014/03/21/the-line-it-is-drawn-182-male-superheroes-in-female-superhero-poses/.

There is clearly a difference between male and female depiction that I find challenging to describe in words, but I definitely know what it looks like.

Besides all that, I thought this movie was pretty good, better than most marvel animation but not the same level as DC animation.

Posted by Teerack

Please stop wasting money on this studio and make some good animated films. =_=

Edited by patrat18

Soap opera garbage. Don't waste your money.

Posted by superior_prime_maybe

I literally slept!
I really wanted to like this movie.

seriously, what was wrong with the Wolverine Vs Hulk style of animation... ??


Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

@war_killer: just hopeful thinking. I know they have that mini but I'm hoping that if Cap 2 does well they will end up giving him a new on going.

Edited by lifeofvibe

@teerack: @superior_prime_maybe: @patrat18: i know right? they've really got to stop trying to mix american comics with anime it just...doesn't work AT ALL, like wheres the comedy? wheres the ultra complicated villain? wheres the teenagers? i dont know what ask but in all of these animes somethings missing

Posted by Super_SoldierXII

@g_man said:

@super_soldierxii: I just personally don't seek TnA in comic or animated form. It's not hate, just not necessary to this extreme. I think Black Widow looks great in the current comic drawn by Phil Noto. When the proportions are worse than a Barbie dolls, it's a little distracting to the viewing. The way she fights against the Punisher, she doesn't look like she has an ounce of fat or muscle on her body. I would think people aren't buying this just for a super-thin Black Widow. I could be wrong though.

I couldn't agree more. If people want a more sexy barbie doll version of Black Widow thats fine. But I would rather have the Phil Noto version. I find the overly sexed versions simply unnecessary.

@super_soldierxii, I think Tony and others who dislike inproportionate/sexy female depictions in comics believe that women are more objectified then men (not to say that men are not objectified). The best way I can visually explain this is by looking at the following compilation of art that satirically shows what it might look like if men were depicted in Superhero comics in a similar way to women.

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2014/03/21/the-line-it-is-drawn-182-male-superheroes-in-female-superhero-poses/.

There is clearly a difference between male and female depiction that I find challenging to describe in words, but I definitely know what it looks like.

Besides all that, I thought this movie was pretty good, better than most marvel animation but not the same level as DC animation.

You see, I don’t buy too much into all that “it’s sexist” to acknowledge, appreciate and, yes, enjoy female sexuality whether in our relationships or in our entertainment media. Nor do I overly sympathize with that “oh woe is me, we women are so objectified” hoopla. Majority of men prefer big breasts and a shapely tuckus. Majority of women prefer a six pack to love handles. Is what it is and it works both ways.

Fantasy entertainment is not a media dominated by realistic expectations. Again, it is what it is.

I still find it very American (i.e. silly) that we have problems with boobs being portrayed as too big placing unrealistic expectations on our youth, but zero problems with throats being slit and blood flying all over the place. Good to see we all have our priorities where our impressionable youth are concerned. Can see 100+ people slaughtered in a movie and have it keep it's PG-13 rating. Flash a nipple and it's rated R. R for ridiculous.

Again, all that said, I have zero problems with those who found it stylistically a bit much in this film though still hold that men and women are equally as objectified. Without doubt.

Edited by War Killer

@war_killer: just hopeful thinking. I know they have that mini but I'm hoping that if Cap 2 does well they will end up giving him a new on going.

The new movie will most likely give Bucky a new found popularity among non-comic book readers, so it would make sense that Marvel would want to cash-in on that with a new series. If not a new series then at least more appearances in other titles like Secret Avengers and more likely Captain America.

Edited by Jonny_Anonymous

@jonny_anonymous said:

@war_killer: just hopeful thinking. I know they have that mini but I'm hoping that if Cap 2 does well they will end up giving him a new on going.

The new movie will most likely give Bucky a new found popularity among non-comic book readers, so it would make sense that Marvel would want to cash-in on that with a new series. If not a new series then at least more appearances in other titles like Secret Avengers and more likely Captain America.

Yea hopefully, I know he's appearing in Invaders but James hasn't been writing him great so far.

Posted by movieartman
@iceslick said:

@g_man I agree about the TnA about Black Widow, but that's how most anime cultures portray females mostly. So, I try my best to ignore it. I hope it does change someday though and considering how comic fans look at Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow lately, I can definitely seeing them buying this for that reason alone. Comic book fans are the number one perverts, lol.

pervert implies perverse which implies unnatural

rape is unnatural, pedos are unnatural, necrophiles are f__king unnatural.

there is NOTHING bloody unnatural about straight males being attracted to sexual imagery of females in entertainment

kiss my ass you judgmental little shit, i pray to god it doesn't change ever just to spite you.

@g_man said:

@super_soldierxii: I just personally don't seek TnA in comic or animated form. It's not hate, just not necessary to this extreme. I think Black Widow looks great in the current comic drawn by Phil Noto. When the proportions are worse than a Barbie dolls, it's a little distracting to the viewing. The way she fights against the Punisher, she doesn't look like she has an ounce of fat or muscle on her body. I would think people aren't buying this just for a super-thin Black Widow. I could be wrong though.

there is nothing sexual or even feminine about phil noto's black widow barring her face some of the time, i cant see how anyone cant find that version of the character appealing unless they like her so be completely asexual.

@g_man said:

@super_soldierxii: I just personally don't seek TnA in comic or animated form. It's not hate, just not necessary to this extreme. I think Black Widow looks great in the current comic drawn by Phil Noto. When the proportions are worse than a Barbie dolls, it's a little distracting to the viewing. The way she fights against the Punisher, she doesn't look like she has an ounce of fat or muscle on her body. I would think people aren't buying this just for a super-thin Black Widow. I could be wrong though.

I couldn't agree more. If people want a more sexy barbie doll version of Black Widow thats fine. But I would rather have the Phil Noto version. I find the overly sexed versions simply unnecessary.

@super_soldierxii, I think Tony and others who dislike inproportionate/sexy female depictions in comics believe that women are more objectified then men (not to say that men are not objectified). The best way I can visually explain this is by looking at the following compilation of art that satirically shows what it might look like if men were depicted in Superhero comics in a similar way to women.

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2014/03/21/the-line-it-is-drawn-182-male-superheroes-in-female-superhero-poses/.

There is clearly a difference between male and female depiction that I find challenging to describe in words, but I definitely know what it looks like.

Besides all that, I thought this movie was pretty good, better than most marvel animation but not the same level as DC animation.

cept that pointless bullshit, cus no one cept a VERY tiny section of female or gay readers want to see male characters like that, and yet a Strong number of male readers do want to see females with sexuality, im not asking for rob liefeld backbroke poses, but come on.

Posted by movieartman

and furthermore, her being hyper skinny is not a selling point, we like the boobs and butts, but we do not care for or are indifferent to her being skinny.

like i love this black widow by frank cho

http://29.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m30j3lRYlW1qdodo2o1_1280.jpg

but that doesn't bloody mean i like this crap

http://fc00.deviantart.net/fs51/f/2013/323/c/1/black_widow_by_jamietyndall-d2d9xd3.jpg

do not lump all this together man IT IS NOT THE SAME

Posted by TheMantisShrimp

@super_soldierxii: the difference for me between violence portrayal and female portrayal is that I don't think violence is gender bias in the sense that woman are also capable of highly violent acts in superhero comics. Although maybe we don't see it as frequently because there are more male characters. Although a lot of this becomes irrelevant if you don't think women are more objectified or sexualized then men. Nice convo.

Posted by movieartman

@super_soldierxii: the difference for me between violence portrayal and female portrayal is that I don't think violence is gender bias in the sense that woman are also capable of highly violent acts in superhero comics. Although maybe we don't see it as frequently because there are more male characters. Although a lot of this becomes irrelevant if you don't think women are more objectified or sexualized then men. Nice convo.

thats irrelevant anyway, cus a hell of alot more men want to see sexualized females than females that want to see sexualized men, the output is unbalanced cus the demand is unbalanced thats simply the way it is

Posted by tuckboarder

Marvel and DC animators are building a wall between one another, and DC's looks better with every movie they put out, Marvel on the other hand, not so much

Posted by UrbanChill

Is it honestly such a big deal dude @movieartman ? youre just coming off as a dick and you arent helping the cause youre arguing for

Posted by Super_SoldierXII

@super_soldierxii: the difference for me between violence portrayal and female portrayal is that I don't think violence is gender bias in the sense that woman are also capable of highly violent acts in superhero comics. Although maybe we don't see it as frequently because there are more male characters. Although a lot of this becomes irrelevant if you don't think women are more objectified or sexualized then men. Nice convo.

They're more "sexualized" (even a word?) sure ... but not more objectified. Let's get one thing straight, there are far more ways to objectify the "sexes" than just their sexuality. Men are sexually attracted by female beauty, whereas women are more drawn to "power" or powerful male stereotypes. Pop culture, celebrity worship and the whole "American Idol" fiasco are prime examples - the Captain of the Football team in high school never had a problem getting a date. Power comes in all shapes and sizes from politician to professional athlete. Let's not try to undermine the importance of sexuality in society - but let's be clear how both sexes differ insofar as what they're drawn to.

For men to feel attractive, accepted and desirable they're met with a plethora of criteria to meet by the modern media that include, but are certainly far from limited to, their physical appearance.

The comic book cannon for men tells young male adults that to "man up" you need to be heroic, big, muscular, built, tough, even violent. The penultimate "Alpha Male". So let's get a bit real here and at least pretend to start to include men in the scope of societal ineptitude here because there is a HUGE f'n problem with the male stereotype as well - and it's every bit as in evidence in film, comic driven or otherwise, as is the objectification of the female form.

Posted by TheMantisShrimp

@urbanchill is on point. @movieartman: your argument about demand is bull. Marvel and DC, along with many other companies, aim their products towards certain groups of people. Obviously other people outside of that group also enjoy the content but they definitely tailor it to fit what they believe said group wants. Although I think marvel is currently doing an ok job of expanding who they are aiming at, not as good as image but they seem to be progressing.

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