Unless you weren't one of those people that braved the outdoors to attend a Memorial Day barbecue with the family this past Sunday, then you no doubt missed the one-hour preview of Avengers Assemble on Disney XD. The series had pretty lofty expectations to meet, what with the standard set by The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the hype generated from the franchise’s blockbuster film. So what’s the final verdict here at The MindHut? In case the headline wasn’t resoundingly clear, Avengers Assemble made getting up before noon on a Sunday completely worth it!
Where The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes was bright, lighthearted, and evocative of the Bronze Age of Comic Books, Avengers Assemble is divorced both canonically and thematically from its predecessor, crafting its own mythos while keeping in line with the recognizable tones and themes seen in the movies such as Captain America: The First Avenger, Iron Man, and—of course—2012’s The Avengers. That being said, the series excels on its own merits!
Trumpeted as a one-hour special, Avengers Assemble aired in the form of two back-to-back episodes entitled “The Avengers Protocol,” with minimal commercial interruption, to boot—we praise you, Disney, for relieving us from having to suffer through plugs for Kickin’ It and Crash & Bernstein. The series opens with Iron Man bearing witness to the Red Skull seemingly wiping Captain America clean off the battlefield, learning immediately afterward that the skeletal leader of HYDRA is in an unholy alliance with the technological mastermind MODOK. Sending out a call-to-arms to his fellow, erstwhile teammates, Iron Man reassembles the Avengers, in spite of vague passing references to their previous disbandment. Reunited at last, the team learns the true fate of Cap and the Red Skull’s twisted machinations.
One of Avengers Assemble’s highlights had to be its tight, fast-paced narrative, cutting straight to the chase without trudging through an obligatory origin story and allowing the viewers at home to settle into the situation at hand. Going by this and the well-directed, engaging action sequences, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that writing and executive production duties fall on “Man of Action”: the nom de plume for the triumvirate of veteran comic scribes responsible for Cartoon Network’s Ben 10 and Generator Rex. From the tone of the show’s atmosphere to the dialogue, Man of Action’s trademark sense of spinning a heroic yarn is evident throughout. And it certainly complements the sleek, sophisticated artistic design of Iron Man and company. It’s a step up from the cartoonish look of the characters from The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, making it far better suited for the direction its successor is moving towards.
There’s plenty more to enjoy about Avengers Assemble, such as the caustic repartee between the Hulk and Hawkeye, yet we couldn’t help lauding Marvel’s decision to add the Falcon to the team’s roster, giving the Avengers some welcome cultural diversity. Prior to his inclusion, the Falcon was a relative unknown in the mainstream, known by devout comic readers as Captain America’s partner and eventual Avenger. But this iteration is far unlike his mature, level-headed counterpart from the comics, instead exuding a youthful eagerness to impress Iron Man and prove his salt as a member of Earth’s premiere pantheon of heroes. Thankfully, Man of Action didn’t fall into the trap of action-oriented cartoons’ tendency to make the younger folk gratingly enthusiastic and quippy. To wit, they saw how Ultimate Spider-Man handled its youthful characters' dialogue and avoided those mistakes like the plague. And for this we are grateful.
As much as we enjoyed Avengers Assemble, it isn’t without critique, namely Heroes’ Adrian Pasdar lending his vocal chords to Tony Stark/Iron Man. In spite of the prestige his name carries, the voice doesn’t quite match the character. Seeing as though Pasdar is here to stay, however, this is something we’re just going to have to accept. Minor gripe aside, Avengers Assemble lives up to Marvel and Disney’s fanfare—and we look forward to the series’ return this July!
Did you like Avengers Assemble? Sound off in the comments!