I have a five year old who has been into superheroes for a while now. (He moved on from Thomas the Tank Engine sometime last year.)
Thanks to Netflix and our on-demand world, we discovered Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. It didn’t take long for me to be more hooked on it than my son, and I was slightly peeved that there would only be two seasons. Marvel has chosen to create a new Avengers series, based more on the characters from the movies. Initial reports say the new series is disappointing in comparison to EMH.
I understand their motivation. With Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D coming out on television soon, and all the Marvel-verse movies, they want some consistency. I don’t fault them for that.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the new Marvel movies. The Avengers was amazing, and one of the few movies I own on Blu-Ray. However, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes was a wonderful interpretation of the characters, and I’m sad that we won’t see any more Ant Man, Ms. Marvel, or Wasp.
The cast changed from season one to season two, which introduced some new characters to the lineup. The season one characters were Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Wasp, Hawkeye, and Black Panther.
The style of animation was great– it was a colorful and bright palette that mirrored what you find in today’s bright glossy comic books. The characters were stylized to an almost distracting level however. I found Captain America’s nearly triangular body with his enormous shoulders a little odd at first. And Hulk suffered a little bit of what I call “Cable Syndrome” (huge muscular body, itty bitty head!) Wasp had huge, expressive eyes. None of this was egregious though, and soon the shapes became the stamps of the characters, the embodiment of that really mattered, the personalities.
And what well written personalities! Iron Man / Tony Stark was obviously patterned after Robert Downey Jr.’s version of the character, which has become the canonical version. He had his good moments of humor and sometimes showed some chinks in his armor (ha!) to reveal some emotional moments.
What I was really taken by however, was someone I didn’t think would do it for me. Captain America was excellent. Perhaps because the movie version was so weak this one really stood out. He had a bravery that shed pretense, and a core of honesty that really made you feel like he was a true hero. You always know where you stand with ‘Cap. Every time he got a chance for a monologue, it was great.
This version of the Hulk is my favorite. When he’s hanging around the Avengers’ Mansion, he’s chill and collected. Bruce Banner is intentionally being the Hulk so that he can prove the Hulk can be a hero. One of my favorite Hulk moments is when an artifact is uncovered that freezes New York. Wasp and Hawkeye are relaxing by the pool, while Hulk is swimming. (A great excuse to draw Wasp in a bikini, but there’s less gratuitous cheesecake in Avengers as opposed to the Justice League, which I’ll talk about in another entry.)
The city freezes over, and Hulk is forgotten, until he breaks out of the frozen swimming pool, less than thrilled by Hawkeye’s forgetfulness.
Hawkeye has some good moments, (one standout where he threatens to take down the Hulk) but he’s not a character I really latched on to. He did have nearly as many snarky lines as Wasp.
Hawkeye: (being crushed by Abomination) Please… I’m begging you… brush your teeth.
Hawkeye: (When Black Panther says he would meet death with dignity) I’ll meet mine with kicking and screaming.
Hawkeye: (after defeating the Masters of Evil) You know, I’m not so sure I wanna be part of a team I have to rescue every week.
Black Panther was too calm and detached for me to really get a handle on, so I don’t have too much to say about him. But even the other Avengers noticed Black Panther’s lack of verbosity.
Wasp: (to Black Panther)– “I forgot you talked!” .
Hulk: (watching Black Panther meditating)– “You talk too much.”
Wasp was among my favorites. She was so bubbly, cute, and fierce. Unfortunately she often would get knocked out by nearly everything the Avengers came across. She had great characterization. Her difficult relationship with the increasingly distant and morose Ant Man was really engaging. She also had a lot of the comic relief lines.
Wasp: This is the coolest thing I’ve ever done! I’m driving a jet!
Iron Man: [Over the radio] It’s actually on auto-pilot, Wasp. Sorry.
Ant Man himself was a fascinating character. A pacifist who did his job out of a sense of duty, and took no pleasure in it, eventually leaving the Avengers because of his reservations about using violence.
Pym: There’s nothing to enjoy about fighting.
Hulk: You’re doing it wrong, then.
Thor, well he was pretty much Thor. You’ve seen him in the Avengers movie, and he had his own film. His best moments were when he was really angry, and let loose his full power and fury upon the world. When the Avengers were on the Kree homeworld, Thor decided to distract the entire Kree army by being… himself.
The second season saw the addition of some other characters, The second season added Ms. Marvel and Yellowjacket replaced Ant Man, and Vision eventually joined as well.
I’m not sure what I think about Yellowjacket. Hank Pym basically had a breakdown and decided he wanted to be a hero, but not be held back by things like “logic” and “caution.” His insecurity led him to use his technology to re-invent himself. In a way, he tries to be more of a man that he thinks Wasp wants, though that’s not directly mentioned in the series. (Why else would he make a costume like hers?) I think there was a lot of guilt he needed to deal with, and unexplored feeling about his relationship that needed addressing. There could have been a wonderful story-arc about this in a third season.
Ms Marvel was one of my favorites, and not (entirely) because she was a tall blonde with thigh-highs. If Wasp was the physically weakest of the Avengers, Ms. Marvel was nearly the opposite. Her power level was ridiculous. But the writers didn’t just leave her as a token powerful female character. She had a personality, and her own conflicts with her divided loyalties and her getting used to her newly granted powers. She fit in with the Avengers, and could stand on her own as well.
Vision had the same problem as Black Panther. Distant and cold, there was only so much personality you could really squeeze out of him. They were both at their best when they said something unexpected, yet completely in character.
The series also had a number of cameos and second-string favorites, such as Spider Man, Power Man and Iron Fist as the Heros for Hire, Wolverine, Beta-ray Bill, Winter Soldier, etc.
And there were, of course, the classic villains, but I’ll save those for part two.
Character quotes from http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/