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Marvel Anime is back with a new movie, “Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher,” and it’s definitely a step up from their last outing that featured these two characters. Last seen in cameos in “Iron Man: Rise of the Technovore,” Black Widow and Punisher take center stage this time around in a search for the source of some high-tech weapons.
The story starts with the Punisher (Brian Bloom) being interrupted by S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and Avenger Black Widow (Jennifer Carpenter) while interrogating an arms dealer. S.H.I.E.L.D. is trying to track the arms dealer’s employers and the Punisher just wants him dead after he gets the information he needs. Needless to say, his approach doesn’t sit well with Nick Fury (John Eric Bentley), and they end up arresting him. Fury decides they will use Punisher’s intel to find out who has been supplying the weapons, and will let Castle do the leg work, but only if he’s accompanied by Black Widow. It’s at this point that the film kicks into gear and the action comes fast and heavy.
The animation style from Madhouse Studios really works well here. The character designs are great, with Punisher looking much better than he appeared in “Technovore,” no longer having the shaggy hairstyle. Widow is also redesigned slightly, with this version being less eye-candy, more super spy, as she isn’t about to bust out of her top. Punisher moves like a soldier, he’s brutal and straightforward with his actions like he should be, and is all about results. Meanwhile, Widow moves with balletic agility, deftly dodging gunfire in either close-range or at a distance, and her iconic Widow Sting is awesomely animated. The action is pretty cool, and the story moves along at a nice pace, though there are some moments where it feels a little forced with the Widow plot.
With about 20 minutes left in the film, the titular Avengers show up. With a group including Thor, Iron Man, Captain Marvel (formerly Ms. Marvel) and War Machine and more, this was a very power heavy group for a bunch of terrorists. But I digress. I mean we do get some very cool action when they arrive, and bunch of cameos from villains. To say anymore would ruin the inevitable geek out at the big battle. The final fight is a little more personal, and it highlights both the protagonists’ skills.
Like all Marvel Anime, there are a few special features, including a documentary about the making of the movie and the characters. Nothing especially interesting, unless you’re into that stuff (which I am). All in all “Avengers Confidential” is a much more interesting and better written outing than “Technovore,” and uses characters that really fit well with the Anime style.
Glad to see these are still going and hopefully there will be more to come.
Kenichi Shimizu (director) / Mitsutaka Hirota, Marjorie Liu (screenplay)
CAST: Jennifer Carpenter … Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow (voice)
Brian Bloom … Frank Castle / Punisher (voice)
John Eric Bentley … Nick Fury (voice)
Grant George … Elihas Starr (voice)
Kyle Hebert … Cain (voice)
Kari Wahlgren … Maria Hill (voice)
Eric Bauza … Amadeus Cho (voice)
JB Blanc … Orion (voice)
Fred Tatasciore … The Hulk / Ren (voice)
Matthew Mercer … Tony Stark / Iron Man (voice)