Marvel began treading into new media territory once they began shaping their new Marvel Universe with all its various outlets and incarnations. The tentpole and center of this Universe was the 2012 Avengers film, and Marvel’s kid-friendly cartoon tie-in, Avengers Assemble (currently airing Sunday mornings on Disney XD), is a surprisingly awesome blend of comic action and quips by your favorite superheroes. Avengers Assemble takes place after the film and pits the same crew with forming an official squad to deal with all the epic threats that are too big for any one hero alone. What could have been a typical kid cash-in show is actually very entertaining and worth at least a few viewings to see if you get hooked. Here are some good reasons you should jump on board.
1) New Avenger – Aside from the cast of the Avengers film, the cartoon cleverly brings in a young newbie hero to help introduce the rest of the team to us, the audience, while also maintaining an awed point of view from a rookie in the exciting realm of superheroes. And it’s nice to see a bit of diversity added into our whitebread team as well! This new, younger Falcon (based on one of the original Avengers team members and Captain America’s old partner) is technologically savvy with a nifty super suit – if you’re thinking mini-Iron Man you’re pretty close, but his personality is enjoyable and relatable without being annoying.
2) Epic Action Scenes – Superheroes are all about the action, and this translates perfectly to a Saturday Morning Cartoon format. The core of most episodes have been centered on large-scale action set pieces involving multiple Avengers and villains, and typically end with half of New York destroyed (seriously, that city cleans up fast). From battling a sudden invasion of Atlanteans trying to sink Manhatten to the ancient and gigantic Asgardian Serpent wrecking havoc and leveling buildings, it’s a wonder there’s anything of New York City left to destroy.
3) Character Banter/comedy – Part of what makes this new group of Avengers so compelling is the way they interact with each other. They are not the X-Men or the Justice League; they’re thrown together by necessity to deal with powerful forces, and often their arguments come to blows or endanger the rest of the cast. But it does make for some funny banter the likes of which I hadn’t really seen in an action-oriented cartoon since the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Hawkeye is endlessly sarcastic and loves to fight with Black Widow, Hulk and Thor taunt and one-up each other like two old friends and athletes, and Tony Stark’s arrogant selfishness puts him at odds with all of SHIELD. It’s not always comedy gold and some may be hoping for a more serious take on the comic book universe, but the humor fits the tone of its big screen counterparts and the characters are well represented.
4) Based on the New Marvel Universe – Avengers Assemble picks up sometime after the events of the 2012 Avengers film and recognizes villains and plot threads from everyone’s individual movies, as well as drawing from their overall comic history. Red Skull has reemerged in the modern day and begins building his own evil group (the Cabal) to combat the Avengers after they thwart him in the two-part Pilot episode. Familiar faces like Hammer (from Iron Man 2) and Doctor Doom show up throughout the season as well as villains and characters from the more expanded Marvel universe like Dracula, Molecule Man, and Hyperion. It’s a great way to introduce fans of the films that may not be as familiar with comic books while keeping everything in the same style of the current Marvelverse.
5) Unique Intersection Between Comics, Movies, and Television – There’s been no better time to be a comic book fan; not only have superhero films ruled the box office for the last decade but now Marvel has begun expanding the same characters and stories directly onto the small screen. It’s been done before with superhero cartoons but not to the degree that Avengers Assemble, and now the live action Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (read our review of the pilot episode) tie in with their big screen counterparts and comic roots. If nothing else, Avengers Assemble is a great example of how to properly do a cartoon tie-in of your incredibly successful, multi-big budget movie franchise: familiar and likable cast of heroes (and villains), cool new characters based on Marvel’s rich comic book history, quality animation, and fun writing that translate the tone of Whedon’s Avengers into an action-packed cartoon show.