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Ultimate alliance.

Marvel's latest animated movie, "Iron Man and Hulk: Heroes United," is a fun, action-packed 3D direct-to-video movie that will delight all audiences. It carries the branding of "Avengers Initiative," so we can assume that it is at least loosely set in the Avengers cinematic universe. The movie stars Iron Man and Hulk, working together to save the world from Hydra and all the monsters that it creates, but of course getting into each other's faces in the process, as well.

I feel that choosing Zzzax as the main villain for the movie was an interesting, but smart pick. It is difficult to find a true threat to Iron Man and Hulk, since Iron Man is technology at its highest form, while Hulk is brute force at its maximum potential. Thus, having Zzzax, living electricity, as the central antagonist, makes a more formidable threat for Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, since he is not something you can just touch or grab a hold of.

Abomination acted as the supporting villain, providing for a very brief, but chaotic brawl between him and the Hulk. When you think about it, Abomination is really the only Marvel villain available that can give Hulk a run for his money in the power department, so it was necessary to include him in the film, if only to create an unforgettable fisticuff with the green giant, as a set-up for the battle of the brains that would soon follow afterwards.

Like in any good team-up story between superheroes, Hulk and Iron Man started things off with a fight. Iron Man blamed Hulk for creating Zzzax, and this finger-pointing led to punches being thrown. Any tension was resolved, as the two heroes discovered that they were fighting the wrong enemy, and that the only option for both of them was to work together to take the living lightning villain down.

Tony Stark and Hulk were forced to combine both their expertise at technology and brute force to pin down Zzzax. A great symbol of this team-up was when Hulk donned the Hulkbuster armor of Iron Man. He was hesitant at first, because it hindered his movement. But Hulk had to use the armor to combine his physical strength with the necessary energy frequency required to neutralize Zzzax. It was refreshing to watch a "smart" Hulk, a Hulk that could talk and think straight, versus the usual Hulk that we are used to, who acts like a mindless monster. This version of the Hulk made him more relatable to the audience. It also gave him many witty, comedic lines throughout the film.

One of my favorite moments of the movie was when, after randomly and awkwardly crashing into a mystical cemetery, Hulk was blinded by the UV light coming from an explosion on Iron Man's helicarrier. On the other hand, Iron Man's armor was rendered useless because of the same explosion that resulted from a clash with Zzzax. So Iron Man had to be carried on Hulk's back, and he had to act as Hulk's eyes during their confrontation with the deadly Wendigos, supernatural wolf-like creatures that haunted the cemetery. This was a team-up in the most literal sense of the word.

By the movie's end, even after Hulk and Iron Man trade blows almost every other scene, you see how they actually value each other deeply. Hulk helped Iron Man realize that he cannot always rely on his technology. Iron Man helped Hulk see how he has to keep in touch, and always be willing to work with others, because not every job can be done alone, especially in the superhero business.

If you're watching the movie for the first time, be sure to stick around until after the credits. Like the classic formula of the Marvel live-action films, there is a surprise scene at the very end of the cartoon. Red Skull, the archenemy of Captain America, appears to the two defeated Hydra scientists and declares his new plan of using Captain America and Iron Man to achieve world domination. This excited me, and assured me that the movie will be followed up by a sequel. Although, I would prefer the next movie to star unused characters, perhaps have Captain America team up with Thor, instead of Iron Man in a repeat performance. I also definitely would appreciate if a 3D Black Widow makes an appearance in the next movie.

Blu- Ray and DVD copies of "Iron Man and Hulk: Heroes United" are being sold in all video stores and outlets around the country. The film is worth every cent, as you will be treated to a cartoon experience that has the special effects, look, feel and overall vibe of a video game. It is a very light-hearted adventure that develops the bond between Hulk and Iron Man, that we already saw spark in the Avengers movie.

(When he's not out on the streets saving the world from made-up villains, Marco MaAaAaAeA~alac is usually surfing the internet. Follow him on Twitt @ marcomanalac. Email him at marco.manalac@gmail.com)

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Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Feb 1, 2014
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