Friday, April 3, 2015

The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes Review

CATEGORY: TV SHOW
RATING: TV-Y7


OVERVIEW: The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes is an animated series that ran on Disney XD from September 2, 2010 to May 5, 2013. The show is based on the Marvel comic "The Avengers" and features many of the series' primary characters, including Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, the Hulk, Black Panther, Wasp, and Ant-Man. These heroes come together to face a threat too great for any one hero to overcome alone and form a team dedicated to avenging the wrongs caused by the forces of evil.

"Yeah Wasp, I'm sure your ability to shrink and cause mildly irritating stings will be enough to take down the 50-foot tall energy monster."
REVIEW: It's kind of important to understand the context in which this show premiered. The Marvel Cinematic Universe was still fairly new and The Avengers movie had just recently been announced. The timing kind of made it feel like this series only existed to build up hype for the movie, and therefore wouldn't have as much effort put into it.

A thought supported by its replacement shortly after the release of The Avengers. The new series, Avengers Assemble, is more closely based on the movie universe.
So it was surprising to find that instead of a cheap money-making racket, Avengers:EMH seemed to have a level of effort and thought put into it that implied the creators wanted it to stand well on its own. The show started off with an online and later televised microseries that gave backstory and character development to the main cast, all of which built up to a rather epic series premiere that may stand amongst the best action scenes in Marvel's animated lineup.

And of course, the Helicarrier goes down.
The series continues to be pretty strong, especially throughout its first season. Story arcs tend to be fairly short (2-4 episodes), but the show had a loose yet strong underlying plot that kept it from seeming like a series of random events. The show also doesn't limit itself by trying to stay within the confines of the movie universe; the Avengers face all kinds of villains, both popular and obscure, from genetic experiments to aliens to time travelers.

"Look out! A wad of cookie dough has gained sentience!"
The characters themselves are equally charming. They aren't forced to fit their traits from the movies and instead develop personalities that both honor their comic and movie counterparts and make them unique. You get to see a lot of sides to each character, with each one getting a few episodes dedicated primarily to them. Some of my favorite moments in the show aren't even during intense or serious scenes; it's fun just to see how all the vastly different characters interact together on a team. Speaking of which, they play really well off of each other: Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Hank Pym (Ant-Man) are both geniuses but have very different ideas of what to do with their inventions, Thor and Hulk have a strong rivalry that borders on hatred at points but is founded on a deep respect for each others' strength, Captain America and Thor both argue with Iron Man over his over-dependence on machines, and Hulk and Wasp have this cute and hilarious running gag of Hulk being grumpy and Wasp trying to make him laugh or smile.

"So the duck says, 'Put it on my bill!'" "HAHAHA! HULK LIKE STUPID DUCK!"
The visuals on this show are pretty good as well. They keep the action intense while also allowing for some subtler moments, all while maintaining the comic book vibe of the source material. There are more impressive looking shows out there, but this one is still nice to look at, especially during premieres and finales.

I whip my Thor back and forth. I whip my Thor back and forth.
The only major problem I have with the show is the series finale. After wrapping up one of the longest plots in the series, the show has a final episode with Galactus the World Eater coming to Earth and the Avengers having to fight him off. Galactus was only barely built up during the show, and the last episode just seemed to be a way to have the whole cast come together for one final battle rather than do anything meaningful. It's pretty underwhelming and a weak ending for a show that started out so strong, but considering how good the rest of the series is, it's easily overlooked.

One of the greatest threats in the Marvel Universe? Yeah, I think we can do him justice in the span of 22 minutes.
Avengers:EMH manages to take concepts from its source material while still presenting something new. Both the characters and the plot are unique to series and create a version of the Marvel Universe that is as worthy a viewing as any other.


AGE RATING: There's really not anything in this series inappropriate for kids. Being based on a comic book property, there are of course going to be a lot of action scenes, but there's no blood, gore, or gratuitous violence involved. There are a few romantic sideplots, but sexual content is basically nonexistent. I'd say kids of any age could watch this, but children 5-14 would probably get the most entertainment out of it.

VERDICT: I'm kind of cheating again (like in my Avatar review) because this series does have something of a "sequel," that being the Avengers Assemble show I mentioned earlier. The new show isn't really based on EMH, however, and instead uses only characters from the movie universe (with the addition of Falcon) in the main lineup.

"Whatever happened to Wasp?" "The studio realized she was interesting and relatable and decided that was too high a standard to maintain."
I won't speak much about what I think of the new series since it might appear as another Sequel Success, but the two shows are distinctly different enough that I would consider Assemble to be more of a remake of EMH than a sequel. So that said, I would love to see Marvel bring back EMH as its own standalone series, maybe after Assemble ends. It was a unique take on the Marvel Universe that I felt still had a lot more to offer.

Perhaps they could add the most powerful Marvel character to their roster: Squirrel Girl. That's not even a joke. Squirrel Girl took down Thanos, who's basically Galactus on steroids.
SCORE: 8/10 (Great)
VERDICT: Revive

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