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Steve Gordon ('Ultimate Avengers') Steve Gordon ('Ultimate Avengers')

'How To Create The Ultimate Piece of Work'

From Marvel Enterprises (NYSE: MVL) and Lions Gate Home Entertainment (LGHE), comes the first-ever Marvel animated feature starring some of the most popular super heroes in the Marvel Universe, 'Ultimate Avengers: The Movie.'

Based on the best-selling Marvel Comics series, “The Ultimates” – and with superb animation that stays true to those comic book roots – the feature has cast some of Marvel’s most popular Super Heroes including Captain Americaä, The Hulkä, Iron Manä, and Thorä, as they must learn to work together to save the world.

In 1945, Humanity was on the brink of annihilation as sinister forces pushed to seize control of the free world, and only one man rose up to stop them. When a nuclear missile was fired at the Capitol, CAPTAIN AMERICA™ managed to detonate it in the upper atmosphere, but in the process he sacrificed himself, falling miles into the icy depths of the North Atlantic, where he remained lost for over sixty years.

Now, with the world facing the very same evil, Captain America must rise once again as the last hope for survival, and lead a strong-willed team of today’s superheroes.

Chatting recently with Steve Gordon, character designer for 'Ultimate Avengers: The Movie' - and noting that this film is the first ever Marvel animated movie - I wondered when it came to mind to create such a thing ...? "I really wasn’t involved in that end of it, but I do believe Craig Kyle had been pushing for something like this for some time and the entire deal had been in the works for quite a while. At least, that’s my understanding."

... and what major speed bumps did you incur along the way before it was finished? "As with any film there are always some ‘speed bumps’, but I think everyone pretty well understood what this film was about. Once it was determined that it was to be based on “The Ultimates” and we were going to lean heavily on Captain America’s story line things sort of fell right in line."

How did you go about choosing the six (6) superheroes, and who got left out that was close to becoming one of the team ... and for what reason?! "Being based on the comic it was pretty clear who the main characters should be. Then it was a matter of who else could be used to fill in the group. I know there were quite a few attempts at bringing Hawkeye into the show (especially the sequel), but we could never find the right amount of screen time for him. Black Widow was used because she had an interesting versatility to her and it was nice to have one more female lead."

How long did it take to design each character and which was the hardest? "Some of the characters happened very quickly and didn’t take much (if any) revision. Cap, Betty, Giant Man and Wasp all fall into this category. Others, like Tony Stark, Iron Man, Black Widow and Thor, I had to go through at least a half dozen for each. The hardest design for me was probably Iron Man because I’m not a very ‘mechanical’ artist and the chore I gave myself was to find a look that had more of the look of the traditional Iron Man while still being reminiscent of Bryan Hitch’s original design. I think I mostly succeeded."

Tell us more about the upcoming 'Ultimate Avengers II' film and what to expect? "I was only involved as the character designer so I can’t really address anything other than the characters. You will be seeing “The Ultimates” version of the Black Panther. We asked Bryan Hitch to take a stab at it to see what his design elements for such an unusual character might be and then I spent sometime working on trying to mold it for animation."

Ultimately, who was it that wrote the actual plot of 'Ultimate Avengers' and did it change in any way as production wore on? "You can give a lot of credit to the source material written by Mark Millar and also to the script writers for shaping it into what the film became. Very little was changed after the script was approved, but there are always little tweaks that the story artists and the directors put into a film."

Lastly, I like Penguins, but there were none in this film ... please explain why not?! "We did play with the idea of turning the Avengers into an all penguin team, but we could never get enough support for this idea. Besides all the animated penguins that I’m aware of were already heavily involved in other films!"

Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk

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