Avengers Confidental: Black Widow and Punisher is another direct-to-video collaboration between Marvel and an anime studio. It’s not that good. I guess if you like anime-style fight scenes it could be enjoyable, but I don’t so this wasn’t for me. But don’t let the cover fool you, Iron Man, Thor, and Hulk are barely in this.
Jennifer Carpenter (Deb from Dexter) voices Black Widow, and she’s pretty terrible. I suspect it’s actually she was poorly directed in the studio. She sounds like she’s trying terribly hard to speak slower and more clearly. There’s an awkward separation between every word like she’s teaching a diction class. She wasn’t the greatest actress in the world on Dexter, but she had some screen presence and a natural way of speaking that was interesting. But trying to change the way she speaks totally ruins everything likable about her. And since this is entirely about S.H.I.E.L.D. forcing a team-up between Punisher and poorly-voiced Black Widow, that makes the thing hard to enjoy.
And her story is kinda lame and doesn’t seem Black Widow-y to me at all. She’s supposed to be cold and calculating and a little bit ruthless, but with a code and a sense of duty. Here, she’s outwardly emotional and other things seem off.
The use of Japanese animation has hilarious consequences, as in the opening scene, Black Widow stares contemplatively at a headline that asks “Punisher: Hero or Murder?” Which seems like the kind of thing someone would have caught pretty early and could have been fixed quite easily. I know when a show like the Simpsons or Venture Bros. sends their stuff off to be animated, they get to look at periodic updates to try to catch mistakes like that. But I suppose Marvel may just hand over a story (in this case by Marjorie Liu, who has written X-23 and Astonishing X-Men, among other things) and then let the anime people do their thing.