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FRIDAY, JULY 21, 2006


SAN DIEGO -- Black Panther jumps into the spotlight as the new character in Ultimate Avengers 2 -- the second direct-to-DVD animated film from Marvel Studios and Lionsgate.

And while he wasn't in The Ultimates comic books from which the films are based, T'Challa was a perfect fit for the sequel.

Greg Johnson, who also wrote the first Ultimate Avengers movie, told The Continuum that finding the right focus for Ultimate Avengers 2 was definitely a priority early on. The sequel continues Captain America's story from the first film.

"There was a time when Panther was even considered as a cast member for the first movie, but once we decided to introduce him in the second instead, everything started falling into place," Johnson told The Continuum.

"With the introduction of Panther, the story had a fresh point of view, and an entry point into the world, the characters, and the threat.

"Overall, this movie is really a convergence of Cap's story and Panther's."

The film, which has already been screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival, was scheduled to be shown at Comic-Con International Friday at 7 p.m. (PT).

The Ultimate Avengers 2 DVD will also feature a preview of Marvel's next animated film, Iron Man, which is also written by Johnson.

It's actually Johnson's third-go round with the character, following the two Ultimate Avengers films and the 1990s Iron Man syndicated series that Johnson story-edited.

How does the new animated Iron Man stack up against the UA and 1990's versions?

"We're retelling Iron Man's origin, so as far as continuity, it could quite believably belong in the timeline pre-Ultimate Avengers," Johnson said. "The voice actor (Marc Worden) is also the same, and the personality is quite similar (to Ultimate Avengers).

"But the movie will have its own unique design."

Marvel and Lionsgate have not announced additional titles following the fourth film, Doctor Strange, also written by Johnson.

Could there be a continuation of Ultimate Avengers? Maybe a third film or a TV series?

"The future of the team is definitely primed for more adventures, even though there would be some small changes to the lineup as a result of this story," said Johnson, who these days is busy with the new Wolverine and the X-Men television series.

Ultimate Avengers 2 is scheduled to be in stores on August 8.

* Look for coverage of the Ultimate Avengers 2 screening on Saturday here in The Continuum.

* Also, for a feature on Marc Worden, who provides the voice of Iron Man, CLICK HERE.

* For a feature on Jeffrey Sams, who provides the voice of the Black Panther, CLICK HERE.

* For a feature on Nolan North, who provides the voice of the Giant-Man, CLICK HERE.

* For a feature on Andre Ware, who provides the voice of Nick Fury, CLICK HERE.

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