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'Avengers Confidential' Brings Anime Edge to Marvel Characters

25 Mar, 2014 By: John Latchem

Among the myriad projects starring the Marvel Comics characters, one of the more distinctive involves a series of anime projects by Japanese animation studio Madhouse. The latest is the March 25 Blu-ray and DVD release of Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher, distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The story pairs the vigilante The Punisher (voiced by Brian Bloom) with S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Black Widow (voiced by Jennifer Carptenter) in the hunt for a terrorist group called Leviathan.

“It started as a versus story,” said Megan Thomas Bradner, VP of development for Marvel Entertainment. “Then we wondered what it would be like if we put them together. These people have a lot in common, a lot of dark corners in their past.”

Part of the fun of making the film, Bradner said, was being able to explore the moral ambiguities of Punisher’s vigilante ways.

“Is this guy a hero?” Bradner asked. “Would he kill a good guy who gets in his way? Where is his line?”

To further explore these themes, the disc includes two featurettes, “The Vigilante vs. the Spy” and “Espionage and Punishment.” The Blu-ray also includes an exclusive gallery of concept art.

Prior to Avengers Confidential, the Marvel/Madhouse partnership previously yielded four anime series — “Iron Man,” “Wolverine,” “X-Men” and “Blade” — that ran in Japan in 2010 and 2011, and were eventually released on DVD in the United States. Those were followed by the direct-to-video movie Iron Man: Rise of Technovore in 2013. Though Marvel is owned by Disney, the Marvel anime titles are distributed by Sony Pictures as a result of prior agreements with Madhouse, according to Bradner.

Comparing Avengers Confidential to Rise of Technovore, Bradner said the new film is a lot edgier, and is much more of a gritty thriller than straight adventure tale of the “Iron Man” movie, and it earns every inch of its ‘PG-13’ rating.

“Some of those fights are brutal,” Bradner said. “We tried to push the line as far as we could, without being graphic for the sake of being graphic.”

Avengers Confidential also arrives just a few weeks before the next Marvel live-action film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which hits theaters April 4 and co-stars Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow.

About the Author: John Latchem

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