Just How Many Times Must the Avengers Assemble?

28 May

By Ed Sum


If the movie Iron Man 3 can be ignored and the animated series Avengers Assemble can take its place, then audiences have a perfect cartoon follow-up to the Avengers movie from last year. Some of the important nuances Joss Whedon’s treatment involved how individualistic each character is. And to try to get them to act as a team is part of what made the film great. The team didn’t work until when it counted the most.

This series has plenty of potential if it gets steered in the right direction. When considering that this series is developed to broadcast on Disney XD, the question of just how complex will the narrative get will depend on who is in charge of leading the Avengers. The pilot episode sets up Tony Stark (voiced by Adrian Pasdar) as a whipping boy. He is the billionaire playboy who thinks he can lead a team. But can he?

The pilot episode recaps a few key points addressed in the live action movie and then branches off to a comic-book style continuity. It also comes complete with characters who will never appear in the movies, namely MODOK, an altered human intelligence in a robotic shell, as its AIM connection. He can never be taken seriously, and even previous cartoons have played him up for comedy relief than a genuine threat. But the organization Hydra is the true terrorist organization that the mighty Avengers have to worry about.

In their encounter with the Red Skull, he not only steals Stark’s metal armor technology, but also establishes himself to be just as cunning as DC Comics’ Lex Luthor. Viewers not acquainted with Marvel Universe’s many terrorist organizations may well need a comic book primer.

The first two episodes provides most of the information needed to bring viewers up to speed. The team still has functional issues, Tony Stark is still cocky as ever, and the character dynamics get re-explored. The roster has changed slightly. Black Widow, Hawkeye, Thor and the Hulk meet a new recruit, Falcon, who has been moonlighting for Stark Enterprises. Interestingly, there is no Rhody.

Iron Man calls the team back together again to deal with avenging Captain America, who has seemingly been offed by the Red Skull. But this master terrorist has darker plans for his mutagenic cousin.

He establishes himself as a difficult villain to vanquish. But somebody has to teach these heroes and villains how to talk like a normal human. There’s too much exposition going on to make this series enjoyable. Viewers do not need certain concepts, like team dysfunction and huge monologues about avenging fallen comrades, hammered into the dialogue. There are times the sequence of events move at a pace of a 70’s Marvel comic book. Back then, there was more grand fight than good fiction to carry the tale. At least comic book alumni, Chris Claremont, made his tales about the Uncanny X-men interesting. He made the death of Phoenix and her resurrection very compelling. The same can not be said for Iron Man or the Captain.

Instead, the Avengers concept feels flat and unmotivated. It’s nowhere as complex as the comic book of later years, before Marvel’s Secret Wars II changed the game. Until the series writers create a complex plot worthy of Grant Morrison, this series is more of a miss than a hit. DC Entertainment has done wonders with series like Young Justice and Justice League (Unlimited). Marvel Entertainment needs to up the ante in terms of quality than to capitalize on their theatrical success.


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