Movies / Animé and Toons

Avengers Assemble Episode 1 – Très Bad

By Hervé St-Louis
May 26, 2013 - 10:14

The Avengers have disbanded but Tony Stark is still looking for their back, almost hoping for a reason to revive his old team. As Captain America gets blasted away by the Red Skull, Stark, as Iron Man calls his old team mates to avenge the death of Captain America. However, Captain America is not dead but his body has been switched with that of the Red Skull. Can the Avengers save him?

Last year Marvel/Disney announced that they were cancelling the Avengers Earth Mightiest Heroes to replace it with a new series called Avengers Assemble that would display the team with a roughly the same characters that were starring in the 2012 Avengers’ movie. Many fans criticized the reboot which is why it is difficult for me not to compare the two series as I review the first episode of the reboot.

The writers of this series used the theme of the disbanded team to link, it seems, the new series with the former series. For those of you wondering if there is enough continuity between the two series, the answer is no. Too many things are different, besides the characters’ design. For example, in the previous series, the Black Widow was never a card carrying Avenger. She participated in many missions, but never as a member. Captain America’s suit, based on the Ultimate Avengers’ comics, is the same the fake Captain America, a Skrull implant used in Earth Mightiest Heroes television series. If there were any continuity between the two series, Captain America would not be wearing this suit. Then there is the Falcon. Falcon in the old series was an operative of General Ross who helped frame the Hulk. Here, the Falcon is a S.H.I.E.L.D. recruit moonlighting with Tony Stark. Instead of picking the War Machine armour, he picks the Falcon’s. His outing as a super hero was his first. He has no relations to Ross and his suit was created by Tony Stark.

The Falcon is the only character that did not appear in the Avengers’ movie last year. The problem I have with him in this series is that more than John Stewart in the early 2000s Justice League cartoon, this Falcon is the typical black token character on the show. While Jon Stewart was a well developed character with years of experience and the official Green lantern of Earth, in a reality where Hal Jordan did not exist, Sam Wilson, the Falcon, is just a S.H.I.E.L.D. and Tony Stark’s trainee. He has no prior existence as a character on his own that is not enabled by another one. In essence he is Tony Stark’s sidekick. This situation is much similar to the one in the comics where he was originally Captain America’s sidekick, and later in the Avengers’ comics, added to the team to fill an affirmative action quota. The only difference is that in the comics, the writers played with the issue of affirmative action within the narrative. Here, it is completely ignored. At the end of the episode, he doesn’t even get the traditional nod by Captain America stating how much a valuable asset he would be to the Avengers. He just becomes an Avenger because Tony Stark gave him a suit and wings.

The plot to have Captain America’s mind exchanged with the Red Skull’s is introduced late in the first episode and just a trick that does not really advance the story. Much of the story felt rushed without the deep and slow build up that characterized the previous series. Here, the writers took many shortcuts to explain the Avengers to viewers and get to the action scenes as quickly as possible. There is a lot of action, but it’s limited to fighting stupid henchmen throughout the episode. Of course, there is a gratuitous Hulk versus Thor fight, which wastes precious minutes that could have been used to reinforce the flimsy plot.

Tony Stark claims that there is an important reason why the team has to reunite, but by the end of the episode, I failed to see the grand threat hovering over Earth. To prove that their series has gravitas, it ends in a cliff hanger Tony Stark near death after his repulsor heart has been removed from his chest to save the day. In the mid 1990s, a new trend in action adventure cartoon started with series having continuity and building up towards a major plot twist at the end of the season. Avengers Assemble seems to be going completely in the serial continuity genre even if the pilot episode was bad. It’s not a good foundation to start a series. The one character that was explored the most was Iron Man, which has become like Wolverine in the X-Men, the core of the team, not due to natural osmosis but because of commercial imperatives.

While the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes was a bit more cartoony, this series has a more angular and realistic look. The props and background are not distinct and could have been reused in any other cartoon. But this is a problem that plagues Warner Brothers Animation too with their many adaptation of DC Comics material. The backgrounds and the props are always the same, and more than ever, the technology and cars are all 3D animated and integrated with the 2D traditional cartoon. The characters’ redesign is good though.

The voices have mostly changed. Thor no longer sounds like a black man, but the Falcon sounds like a 19 year old. The script had a few good one liners like the Red Skull telling Iron Man that he seemed to have a heart after all. I don’t like this series and think it’s not an improvement over the previous Avengers’ series which had dug deeply into the Avengers’ comic book history and integrated it well. Even though Black Panther was that series’ black character, his introduction marked him as a potential opponent of the Avengers. He wasn’t a black sidekick used because a cartoon series featuring multiple characters “needs at least one black character.” Similarly the Black Widow was the token female of the team with little to do and contribute. At least, the Wasp whose powers everyone mocks was a strong female character whose personality and quips made up for her modest powers.

Rating: 4 /10

Last Updated: May 19, 2020 - 12:25

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