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Saturday, October 1, 2005


The trailer for the Ultimate Avengers animated film was shown Friday at Wizard World Boston during a panel devoted to the movie.

The trailer, which will be featured on the Fantastic Four DVD, spotlighted Captain America, Iron Man, Giant-Man, Thor and the Hulk in action. Greg Johnson, the film's writer, and Craig Kyle of Marvel Studios then fielded questions from the floor.

Following are highlights:

* Why was Ultimate Avengers chosen as the first animated Marvel/Lions Gate film? "We really wanted to make sure we came out of the gate with a movie that connected with as many fans as possible," Kyle said. This has got some of our biggest heroes in it. And why we specifically chose Ultimates, it was just such a cinematic story that it was a natural fit with the types of stories we hope to do in these films."

* Johnson said in adapting the comics he had to look at what would work cinematically.

* Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are not featured in the two Ultimate Avengers movies. "The only reason was is that we're not going to put him in and then not use him or just have him walk through a scene," Kyle said of Hawkeye. "It's a waste of an important character. If we're going to bring him in, he's going to make a difference and he's going to matter."

* Johnson said that Captain America's story is the "guiding light" of the film. "He not only starts the movie, but his impact is felt by everyone around him throughout the movie," he said. "His decisions dictate the direction of the plot, and ultimately the resolution rests on his shoulders, which is a little bit of a stronger spine for the movie that we needed to keep the urgency and the threat alive and keep Captain America as the focal point throughout. As much as it's an ensemble, it's really Captain America's story."

* Johnson said it was liberating work on the straight-to-DVD project, as opposed to writing for a Saturday morning show.

"It's more than just the fact that we ignore some BS&P standards that dictate the things you can and can't do on television -- and we got to do that. But it was more of a freedom, more than let's swear and show some risque shots of Black Widow because we can -- and we did.

"It also impacts the way we tell the story. The scenes are a little longer. The dialogue has got a certain cadence in it that you would see in a more mature storytelling device like a film.

"In (television) animation, you are dictated by the act breaks, because here is where the commercials go. You have 22 minutes to tell your story and finish all the story arcs of all the characters involved. Here we have lots of time to really explore some things that we haven't gotten to do before."

* The Marvel/Lions Gate animation films will come out every four to five months. Following Ultimate Avengers are Ultimate Avengers 2, Iron Man and Doctor Strange.

* Bob Richardson, producer of Fox Kids' Spider-Man series, is producing the Ultimate Avengers film. Frank Paur, whose credits include Batman: The Animated Series, Spawn and X-Men: Evolution, is producing Iron Man and Doctor Strange. Both the Iron Man and Doctor Strange films will be origin stories.

* The Ultimate Avengers was chose because of its contemporary take.

"I think regardless of which versions of the Avengers you tell, it's the basic story of a team getting together, letting their differences come in their way, having them overcome their differences to work together to accomplish a goal," Johnson said. "I think that's what the Avengers are about, and I think that's what Ultimate Avengers strives to do."

* Kyle said there will be DVD extras. "The specifics are still being work out," he said.

* Kyle said the second film will feature a character who has not been in the Ultimates comics. "With that design, we went to Bryan (Hitch, Ulimates artist) and said, 'Look, we need you take a pass at it, so we would take what you would have done with this character and translate it to the movies.' We're really happy with the way that one came out."

* Johnson on the Iron Man movie: "It's his origin, updated, It isn't based on anybody's specific run. There are some surprises in that I think are going to thrill the fans because it's a great origin story."

* Kyle said the Iron Man movie will feature several suits. "We have the big refrigerator, too," he said. "He didn't always have that streamlined beauty."

* Johnson said Hank Pym was his favorite character to write. "Very complex character. We got to deal with some anger issues, as you saw in the book," he said.

* Johnson on a difference between the books and the film: "What we wanted to do in the story is create a threat that brings the team together, as opposed to the ongoing threats out there that prompted the team in the books. There is something that crystalizes this, that brings this Dirty Dozen together and forces them to work as a team together. So that threat continues through the entire film."

* Like the book, the film will start with Captain America during World War II. "That was one of the more excited things about the movie, to go back to his past," Johnson said.

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