Without doubt, Marvel is atop of the entire entertainment world now. Their trailblazing critical and commercial success with the ongoing Marvel Cinematic Universe, the surprisingly high quality of their breakthrough television and Netflix franchises and continued popularity amongst comic-book fans the world over have made them a force to be reckoned with. They can seemingly do no wrong anymore.
Well, unless you count their cartoons and direct-to-video releases, that is.
Yes, sadly for the most part, Marvel seems to really drop the ball when it comes to cartoon adaptations of their work. With the notable exception of the 90's "X-Men" cartoon series, many- if not most- of Marvel's animated television and video releases have been sub-par at best. And the "Heroes United" franchise- including this film "Iron Man and Captain America", is certainly no different. It's a clear and cynical cash-grab made to trade in on the success of the (much better) big-screen MCU releases with minimal effort given and minimal talent on display. Cold and calculated films that were designed to make a few bucks off of parents looking to buy their young children something Marvel-related.
To start, the quality of the writing is exceedingly poor, and the film suffers from haphazard structure, lack of motivation and cringe- worthy dialog. The plot is about as simple as they come- Captain America and Iron Man team up to battle the Red Skull. It's simple, classic, to-the-point superhero material. How can you screw that up? Very badly, evidently. Every single line of dialog is either a clichéd piece of not-so-witty banter, an on-the-nose exposition dump or a confusing and brainless non-sequitur. Characters are completely flat and represent only the most basic of hero and villain archetypes. And the general flow and narrative structure is patchy and flimsy, somehow achieving a contradictory feeling of both being boring and bizarrely jarring at the same time.
The animation is shockingly poor in terms of quality, and it's just criminal that such a major studio gave this the go-ahead for release. Character models are strangely over-stylized and under- detailed, and are rendered at such a level of quality that they very much look like they were pulled out of a late-90's video-game. The actual animation is incredibly basic and lacks variety, giving every character a strangely robotic movement that creates a certain "distance" between the viewer and the film... you just can't get invested in something that looks so lifeless. And the lip- synching... my god. Character faces move in a eerie and unsettling-looking juttered-frame manner that makes the image hard to look at at. It's like they accidentally deleted every-other from the facial animations and just doubled-up on what was left. Just weird.
Add to that tacky voice-over work that sounds like its bordering on self-parody, childish humor that wouldn't make a 12-year-old giggle, contrived references to the live-action movies despite this taking part in its own "universe" and a laundry-list of other faults and problems, and you just get a bad animated movie all around.
Trust me... even if you're genuinely interested, just do yourself a favor and stick with the live action Marvel movies. They're great! But this? A complete disaster! I'm giving it a 3 out of 10. Maybe young children will get a kick out of it... but even then, I kinda doubt it.