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San Diego Comic-Con 2009: Marvel Gets Animated And Some Anime Too

Marvel Studios proved that they are indeed a well oiled and organized machine during their Animation Panel on Friday of the San Diego Comic-Con.  The event began with a video reel showcasing the latest and more recent Marvel animation such as Wolverine And The X-Men, Spectacular Spider-Man, Iron Man: Armored Adventures, the Marvel/Lionsgate DVD movies, and also the upcoming Marvel Super Hero Squad

Josh Fine, Marvel Animation’s Director of Development, moderated the proceedings and introduced Eric Rollman,President of Marvel Animation, as well as Keith Dawkins, general manager of the Nicktoons Network, who has been partnering up lately with Marvel if you didn’t know.  Besides already airing Wolverine and The X-Men, and Iron Man: Armored Adventures, the panelists announced that Nicktoons will be broadcasting all 26 episodes of Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Heroes.  That includes all the episodes that Cartoon Network neglected to broadcast in the US. 

Marvel Animation producers and writers Craig Kyle and Greg Johnson also joined the panel.  For a special preview, we were treated to a nice, lengthy trailer for Thor: Tales of Asgard , one of the next upcoming releases for the Marvel/Lionsgate Direct-To-DVD features.  The footage featured a younger, helmet-less and Mjolnir-less Thor along with a still sympathetic Loki as they go on a quest with Sif and Balder to find a legendary sword for their father Odin.  But the retrieval of said sword brings about a terrible war from an ominous force to Asgard.  The story is very similar to the events of the Thor: Son of Asgard comics that take a little bit of “The Warriors Teen” quest and some of the “Worthy” issues with the Storm Giants as the villains.  Matthew Wolf reprises his role of Thor from Hulk Vs. According to the trailer is set for release in 2011.

Even though the first season of Wolverine And The X-Men has not yet finished broadcasting in the states on Nicktoons, Josh Fine revealed some tantalizing tidbits on season 2.  These included character design and model sketches for who will be appearing in season 2:  Havok, the returning Colossus, Colossus’ sister Magik, and of course the one and only Deadpool.  Yes, Deadpool in his Deadpool name and glory will be appearing on the show.  Josh also said that Colossus will be given a much larger role in season 2, and will be given a significant introductory story that brings Colossus back to the X-Men that will involve Piotr’s sister Illyana, or Magik as we also know her.  Nolan North, the voice of Cyclops in the series and Deadpool in Hulk Vs., had joined the panel, and Craig Kyle teased the audience about who should play Deadpool, since it will obviously be Nolan North returning to the role.  Superstar voice actor, Steven Blum, also joined the panel and said being the undisputed and definitive voice of Wolverine is a dream come true.  Steven Blum gets to put a more comedic spin on Wolverine in Marvel Super Hero Squad.  Blum informed me that Wolverine actually says “Snikt” in the show.  The show premieres on Cartoon Network this September with 26 episodes.

The panel then shifted gears as most of the panelists left and Josh Fine introduced Masao Maruyama, the producer, founder, and board of directors member for Japanese anime powerhouse Studio Madhouse.  Madhouse has collaborated with Marvel Animation before, doing the physical animation production on Hulk Vs. and the upcoming Planet Hulk.  Maruyama and company debuted new teaser clips for two of the recently announced, upcoming Marvel Japanese anime productions that are currently in production (watch both trailers at Toon Zone News).  The first anime teaser clip was for Wolverine.  The clip featured a Wolverine who still had the metal claws, but with pointy nails, a mullet, and a sort of bishounen-esque look in feudal Japan setting and battling demons in a dojo.  Wolverine hacks and slashes his way out of the building when two demons combine to form a giant samurai building.  Wolverine slices the giant in half as it fades into a group of bats that fly away.  Even better was the following teaser clip of the Iron Man anime that Madhouse is also working on.  This was absolutely sick.  The clip featured Iron Man, very much looking like an animated version of Iron Man from the movie launching an attack on an evil, sinister looking general and his military weapons.  Iron Man takes care of business, but then goes toe to toe with the general who takes on his own suit of armor while a green haired anime hottie is driving a fast car and observing the action. 

Also in the panel was the very humorous Warren Ellis.  Ellis is scripting and developing the story for both the Wolverine and Iron Man shows.  Ellis also let slip and revealed that Marvel and Madhouse are working on a fourth anime, for Blade.  But Ellis said that Blade was only the focus on a fourth show, and the third anime being developed is based on the X-Men.  Huh, a Madhouse/X-Men anime?  Could this really be true?  By Ellis’ tone, one is unsure if Ellis was joking or not.  Ellis also said that the shows for Wolverine and Iron Man are still in the story stage, and that the teaser clips were more like test footage to get the style and general feel of the projects down.  Ellis talked about Iron Man being about the tensions of a clashing culture as well as the development of Japanese military weapons. 

The panel was bookended by a preview of the 2010 made-for-DVD movie Planet Hulk.  The trailer gave a sizeable chunk of footage to preview including the prologue where the Marvel Illuminati group, instructed by Iron Man, launch the Hulk into space.  Hulk is made a slave and is forced to fight in arena and gladitorial combat on the planet of Sakaar.  The animation looks to take quite a bit from the Greg Pak series as well and looks to have some brutal violence.  Noticeably, Fred Tatasciore is not the voice of the Hulk for this movie, but the take on Hulk is different here and goes in a different direction than Hulk in previous animations.  The panel closed out after the preview and unfortunately there was no Q&A for the fans in the auditorium.  But the Madhouse animation that Sony will be releasing here looks absolutely fantastic.

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