I have been more than vocal over my displeasure the animated direction Marvel has taken recently. This was mainly due to the less than stellar first season of the Ultimate Spider-Man and the cancellation of two of the best animated series from Marvel in years. When we first spoke about the trailer for Avengers Assemble, I was left feeling unimpressed and a little bitter.
But I am a passionate fan of comics and cartoons, and especially cartoons about comics, so I tuned in to the hour long premiere of Avengers Assemble despite my misgivings. As the series starts the Avengers are disbanded, and the Red Skull and MODOK are up to no good. The team is forced to reform under the leadership of Iron Man after Captain America falls to the Skull, and we are introduced to the new team of heroes.
This iteration of the Avengers follows the team from the film, and adds the Falcon as a new member and easily relatable character. The character has his flaws, and his origin suffers a little to fit in line with the series but for the most part he works. As do the rest of the characters who fit in line pretty well with their movie counterparts. The rivalry between Thor and Hulk is expanded upon nicely along with some of the other relationships, and Hawkeye is quickly set up as a soon to be favorite character. The team is pretty heavily male dominated, and Black Widow doesn’t seem to be a permanent member of the team, but hopefully it will grow as the series develops.
The team battles the Red Skull believing Captain America to be dead, until it is revealed that the Skull has switched bodies with Cap. The team switched them back, and the Skull goes to Plan B, stealing Tony’s suit of armor (with the help of MODOK’s technopathy). As the second half of the premiere begins, we see a new modular armor for Tony (which unfortunately looks the same as his stolen armor) and a battle between mind controlled Avengers as they once again battle a newly armored Red Skull and MODOK.
The animation was smooth and looked much better than the small amount we saw in the trailer, though some of the cutaways and widescreen moments seemed a bit excessive. The character designs of the Avengers are cool, and the villains have their own appeal. Red Skull’s modified armor (the Iron Skull) works well and MODOK’s design takes a bit of the camp away from the character, and also intrigues as to some of the new villains we will see in the series.
Which should be an interesting range, as the Skull is shown to be setting up a Cabal of villains at the end of the premiere. Aside from Red Skull and MODOK, we see Attuma, Dracula, and Dr. Doom all appear as presumably a part of the Cabal, which shows a unique range to the baddies we will see. If the first couple of episodes are any indication, we will see a good amount of super fights and a villainous team that should challenge the Avengers.
With a solid connection to the movie universe, Avengers Assemble seems like it could almost be in continuity with the film, which only further expands the MCU. This is a similar expansion to the universe that reminded me of how Star Trek: The Animated Series continued the adventures of the live action series without detracting from the original. Hopefully Avengers Assemble can tread that same line if they continue to follow the movie formula.
With the high expectations left over from The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Disney XD’s newest Marvel series had a lot to prove. And it didn’t really disappoint, as it was still an entertaining look at the Avengers. It might not be a worthy successor to EMH, but it doesn’t detract from the earlier series. It also doesn’t follow the path that Ultimate Spider-Man unfortunately went down, which greatly improves its standing with me. The opening episodes entertained and intrigued, and while there were a few problems initially, I’m optimistic for its arrival on July 7th.