The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Avengers Assemble

Okay, the first episode of "Avengers Assemble" is temporarily available for free on iTunes. I figured I had an hour, so I would check it out. What are my impressions? It's not good. The best thing I can say about it is that it's better than "Ultimate Spider-Man." But that is damning with faint praise, it looks and feels like "Ultimate Spider-Man" but without the Family Guy-style cutaways and immature attempts at humor.

Let's start with the animation and character models... this show looks like it was done cheap. The characters all look like decals in a sticker book when they're not in motion. I know some people didn't like the stylized designs of "Spectacular Spider-Man" or "Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes" but they had a charm and liveliness to them that really brought the characters to life. They were animated shows that didn't look like they were ashamed of their medium.

The plot is predictable, and the pacing is atrocious. It just throws things constantly at you, but really it's all nothing. Red Skull and MODOK attack the Statue of Liberty, kill Cap but not... Tony assembles the Avengers again, and they go after Red Skull... get followed by Black Widow and discover that Cap was kidnapped and Red Skull traded bodies with him.... and not only bodies, but voices (I thought such ridiculousness died in the 80's)... action scene, bodies are switched back, and then Red Skull (who stole Cap's body because his was dying) stole Iron Man's armor to keep him alive... never mind the ARC reactor was designed for a specific purpose, to prevent the shards of shrapnel from getting into Tony's heart... it's not a magic cure-all.

The characters don't fare too well either, most of the voice actors are miscast... the characters are making bad jokes seconds after hearing that Cap "died." Nick Fury, for no reason whatsoever, fires Falcon from S.H.I.E.L.D. when he joins the Avengers... and done in a ridiculously boneheaded scene. Black Widow fares the best, but she doesn't rise above being merely okay.

Now, I suppose you're wondering if Jeph Loeb and Man of Action told the truth when they said it was in continuity with "Earth's Mightiest Heroes." The answer is no. It can't be. And Falcon is one of the big reasons why... this show treats him like the rookie, he became Falcon for the first time, even though he was Falcon already in "Earth's Mightiest Heroes". So, yeah, Loeb and Man of Action lied.

The show is bland, safe, and there is nothing challenging there. It's bright and colorful, and perfect for the purpose it serves... to sell toys. And unlike "Earth's Mightiest Heroes," there will be action figures. It ranges from "okay, that wasn't too awful" to "oh my god, that was completely awful" several times within the episode itself. It's a throwback to cartoons of the 1980's in many of it's less flattering ways.

"Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes" wasn't perfect, especially in the latter half of the second season... but most of the time, it was the Avengers show I would always want to watch. I miss it, and I'm thankful this doesn't share continuity with it. It's not worthy to.


  1. Marvel & Disney XD offered a preview of this and "HULK & THE AGENTS OF SMASH" in comic book form for FCBD. It took screen shots and told the story in comic form. While the "Avengers Assemble" segment was short, it seems my initial reaction to it wasn't far from your impression of the pilot. I figured at best it'd be middle of the road fare because that's all it aspired to be.

    I also appreciate the nod to the character designs from "Spectacular Spider-Man" and "Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes". While the models for the Loeb era shows may look more "mainstream", there's a sameness to it which loses appeal quickly. Perhaps if the writing and pacing were better this flaw wouldn't be as obvious, but it's not.

    The first Hulk episode of "USM" removed the 4th wall breaking for the same of an episode gimmick (it was told from MJ's camera's POV), which revealed what that show would have been like without such inanity. Result? Mediocre. And I think that's the best one can get from Loeb and "Man of Action". At best it'll be safe, predictable, sell some lunch boxes and hit that bell weather curve for ratings. It'll keep corporations, sponsors, and those who like getting the same thing forever happy. For anyone else, it'll leave one wanting, or remembering fonder pastures.

    1. Why is it that THE ONLY TIME we're in full agreement, it's about mediocrity?

      "Cap was kidnapped and Red Skull traded bodies with him.... and not only bodies, but voices (I thought such ridiculousness died in the 80's)"

      What, Jeph Loeb throwing logic out the window? That's unpossible. :p

    2. My answer is there's never much to say about mediocrity. It's just there, taking up space. It serves to remain between excellence and shit, but beyond that, what else is there?

      Things that are above average, whether excellent or good or very good, have more details to discuss and naturally everyone has their own pros and cons of what those are, and why it wasn't better. For me, at least, it's a more engaging use of time. I literally don't want to spend the time watching this, much less writing about it. An absolute dog of a show can be fun to rip into, but only for so long. Then it's just a ritual in masochism. I doubt that'll be a quote on an "ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN" DVD cover, though.

  2. This show was just the safest cash in they could make. Not terrible but not any good either. Sad part is that fans will start going "it's not that bad, stop hating on it" like they did with the latter part of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, since episodes not as bad as Powerless clearly means they're good.

    On Loeb lying about it being in continuity; given the blatant 'give no fucks' about continuity in Loeb's part of EMH it probably does fit right in with the show. At least in Loeb's head.

  3. First thing I noticed - in the first part, they specifically state all the satellite traces of the teleportation technology points to Antarctica. At the start of the second part, Black Widow says Tony needs to hang on for 20 minutes so they can make it to a NATO Reykjavik.

    As in the capital of Iceland.


    Yeah, if the people making the show aren't going to make an effort to care, why should I?

  4. "Nick Fury, for no reason whatsoever, fires Falcon from S.H.I.E.L.D. when he joins the Avengers..."

    Well, the reason was that Falcon was pretending to work for S.H.I.E.L.D. while really owing fealty to Tony Stark and reporting to him about S.H.I.E.L.D., as opposed to Black Widow, who is an Avenger too but is loyal to S.H.I.E.L.D. itself. Even if he and Tony are on the same side most of the time, Nick Fury doesn't hold with that kind of thing. That I found believable. Good point about Iron Man's suit not being a cure-all; it really shouldn't have helped Red Skull survive, at least not without modifications we didn't see.

  5. I was willing to give this show the benefit of the doubt even though I'm still fuming over the cancellation of EMH. I wasn't going to allow that to blur my judgement.

    But damn, I honestly wasn't prepared for how bad A.A. really is. You nailed it when you said it looks like it was "done cheap". I think a lot of corner-cutting is being done in regards to the animation. It's just awful at times.