Last year, Marvel fans were greeted with the worst April Fools’ Day joke of all time: the abysmal Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, which – despite involvement from writer Brian Michael Bendis – has absolutely nothing to do with the excellent comic book series of the same name. While many fans of the previous (and much better) series, Spectacular Spider-Man, were sore about Ultimate‘s mere existence, the truth is that SSM actually ended because of licensing issues between Marvel and Sony – not to pave way for a replacement. Fast forward to 2013, and the same studio behind Spidey’s most recent television outing has made its own Avengers cartoon, one intended as a tie-in to 2012’s summer blockbuster movie. The difference here is that the previous show, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, actually was cancelled to bring about this newer iteration.
As it stands, the first installment of Avengers Assemble is slightly better than any given episode of Ultimate Spider-Man, which is to say that watching Avengers Assemble is a more pleasant experience than discovering you have hemorrhoids. It’s extremely boring and obviously made to sell toys to children, but it’s also not outright offensive or insulting like USM is, so that’s a step up, I suppose. It doesn’t do a very good job of tying into the film, though; the characters look and sound almost nothing like their live action counterparts, and the writing is a couple (hundred) notches below that of Whedon’s screenplay.
The first thing you’ll notice about this show is that it looks like it was made in Flash for cheap. The character designs come across as very unnatural, like they’re paper cutouts pasted onto a screen rather than inhabitants of a cartoon world. Meanwhile, the 3D CGI stuff blends in poorly and already looks extremely dated. The whole production is a mess that barely manages to surpass the 90’s X-Men cartoon in terms of aesthetics. And I feel bad for anybody who tries to watch this show on a standard definition TV – on top of the letterboxing they’ll already experience from the show being made in widescreen, many shots randomly add humongous black bars to the top and bottom of the screen to give the action a “cinematic” feel, meaning SD fellas probably won’t even be able to see what’s happening during these moments. The pointless fake letterbox effect takes up so much of the screen that it actually becomes jarring whenever scenes decide to jump in and out of it (and almost all of them do).
With the huge pool of A-list writing talent Man Of Action supposedly employs (such as Paul Dini and Joe Kelly), you’d at least expect the story and dialogue to be somewhat interesting, but no. The script features very little in the way of wit or charm, and the plot… well, the plot tries to present M.O.D.O.K. as a credible villain. And if you don’t know who M.O.D.O.K. is, I’ll just let these screen caps from the episode fill you in:
That’s really all you need to know.
(Please note that I have only seen maybe three episodes of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and this is not intended as a rage post due to its cancellation. I’m just giving my first impressions of Assemble.)