It’s no Batman: The Animated Series, but the new cartoon incarnation of the Avengers is solid, undemanding fare for fans of all ages, says Fernando Caire, and a step up from Marvel’s previous animated versions.
I enjoy cartoons more then any grown man should. I grew up on them, and I may die watching them, preferably at a ripe old age. Recently, I have been watching The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes: developed by Marvel, screened on Disney XD since last Fall, and now available on DVD.
When I was a kid, I had cartoons that were as heavy on the narrative as they were on the action. Shows like X-Men and Batman: The Animated Series tackled serious issues and delivered some really deep dialogue. They challenged my young mind, and as an adult, I have even more appreciation for them then ever.
Sadly, most current animated fare is the visual equivalent of jangling a set of keys in front of the kids to keep them distracted. Marvel has been guilty of this in the past, with 2006’s feature-length Ultimate Avengers and Ultimate Avengers 2.
Being as underwhelmed by these direct-to-DVD wonders as most of Marvel’s other animated features at the time, the announcement of this new series made me curious to see if whether the company could manage a proper Avengers series. I am pleased to say that it has.
Not stellar – but not entirely mindless
The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is not of the same caliber as Batman: The Animated Series, or even X-Men, but it is not completely mindless. Each member of the Avengers (Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man, The Wasp, Hawkeye, Hulk and Black Panther) is given a full episode to explain their origin stories. It is not until halfway into the season that their lives begin to interweave. This develops each character more fully and makes it easier to understand why some members get along, and others do not.
The animation is simple but effective, with slightly adjusted character designs that still remain true to the source material. Things hold up as the action heats up, and the series can get pretty intense at times. Watching the Hulk rip through everything and everyone in his path never gets old.
Some nits to pick
Being a nerd, I do have to cry foul on some plot points. Some incarnations of the Hulk have given him slightly higher intelligence, but in Earth’s Mightiest Heroes he is capable of completing full sentences and even coming up with witty remarks. Making him as smart as Marvel does here makes him less interesting as a character, although the Jekyll/Hyde approach works fairly well here.
And while the comics portray Tony Stark as an arrogant type who likes working alone, here he forms The Avengers. Sure, you can argue that he may realize the new Hydra threat is bigger then he can handle alone, but I still don’t buy it. On the up side, Marvel has clearly used the new Iron Man films as inspiration, since Stark looks and sounds exactly like Robert Downey Jr: not a bad thing in my book.
Overall, the new Avengers series is action packed, carries some good individual stories for each member of the team, and will surely keep any kid or young teen entertained. If you’re an older Marvel fan, you should get some enjoyment out of them, too, so long as you don’t set your expectations too high. And on a side note, I love the theme song: not enough shows have enough power rock!