Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher (2014, 83 minutes)
Plot: Black Widow and The Punisher are sent to stop a terrorist organization from selling SHIELD tech at an auction.
Source Material: Technically an original story but this draws heavily from the Black Widow solo stories and takes one of the more frustrating parts, namely her tendency to have an ex lover involved in the plot. There’s definitely a sense this feels like a BW story. In fact the story comes from one time BW-writer Marjorie Liu.
Animation: Produced by Madhouse Studios, this is essentially an OAV anime that happens to deal with Marvel characters and it’s a pretty attractive one. The animation is pretty but definitely not top shelf. Character designs look great. Despite the anime style, they’re still recognizably Avengers. If you’re not used to the anime format, this might be a bit disconcerting, but it’s nice to look at. The action is great. The film’s big flaw is I’m not sure if the lips were supposed to match Japanese or English and I fear neither. Very poor dialogue synch, a problem in a very talky film.
Script: It’s funny. I can’t find any really fault with the script except that I really wasn’t very high on it. It’s a decent if cliched story. The dialogue isn’t outright bad but it’s definitely not inspired. The film is very limited in scope but honestly, that’s how espionage stories tend to be. If there’s a glaring hole, it’s the original character of Elias, BW’s ex-lover who turns into the film’s big hero at the end. I didn’t need that. This is really just the most basic, safe idea for a story and inoffensive doesn’t exactly make for engaging. Also this is wildly mismarketed as an Avengers film when the others are barely in it.
Voice Acting: I don’t speak Japanese, which I turned on 10 minutes in because the English synch was so bad. It wasn’t much better in Japanese but it seemed to fit better, likely because I don’t speak it. Anyway, the voice acting on that end was solid. The US track wasn’t very impressive from what I heard of it.
Final Verdict: Oof. This really isn’t a very annoying film and I rarely got angry with it but I definitely checked the time a bit too much. It’s very much there. You won’t think much on it. If you’re a Punisher fan, run because he’s really more of a partner than a lead. The frustrating thing for me is this is it for Black Widow solo stories on film, but really, this isn’t nearly as good a story for the character as The Avengers or Captain America 2 where yeah, she was a supporting character but she was a strong, badass character. I guess if you’re a fan, this is OK, thus a 2 in my book, but really you should seek out Greg Rucka’s mini and get a far better story.