Review: ‘Marvel’s Avengers Assemble’

Marvel's Avengers Assemble

Disney XD series keeps 'Avengers' franchise alive, but it's kids-only fare

When is an animated kids show a Hulk-sized big deal? When it continues a blockbuster Disney/Marvel movie franchise that has also become the linchpin of ABC’s fall lineup. The synergistic aspects of “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble” — being previewed on boy-oriented cable network Disney XD, in advance of a series date in July — are thus more interesting than the program, a fairly unimaginative extension that picks up not long after the live-action movie ended. Featuring wall-to-wall fighting and not much plot, it’s a serviceable addition but lacks the quality Warner Bros. and DC have put into similar efforts, most notably “Justice League.”

The one-hour opener finds Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (wait, that’s the subtitle to another Disney XD show) having disbanded in the wake of the events in “The Avengers” movie, before Iron Man (voiced by Adrian Pasdar) reunites them to battle Captain America’s old foe, the Red Skull, and MODOK, a giant-headed bad guy who — reflecting the benefits of animation — would look very, very silly on a movie screen.

Hewing closely to the movie’s universe, the gang’s all here — including Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye and Black Widow, along with the Falcon, adding an African-American hero to the group — engaging in a kind of playful bickering that, as presented, pretty quickly begins to grow tedious.

Indeed, Hulk (Fred Tatasciore) — who is more verbal in Marvel’s animated fare than in most incarnations — spends much of his time swapping putdowns with Hawkeye (Troy Baker) and trading punches with Thor (Travis Willingham), who enjoy rough-housing the way two kids would, the only difference being the toll their encounters exact on property.

It’s all pretty standard stuff, with an abundance of action to dazzle small fry but nothing much to excite comic-book-fluent adults, who have in the past become valuable parts of the audience for programs like “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.”

Still, there’s no denying Disney has been particularly shrewd in mining its new treasure trove of boy-skewed assets, proving there’s more to life (and merchandising) than just princesses. In that regard, the July premiere for “Avengers Assemble” seems particularly savvy, tapping into interest in the franchise while providing a calling card for the upcoming “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD,” ABC’s first stab at adapting one of the comic-book properties since the acquisition. And access to these superheroes as well as an upcoming Star Wars series should make Disney XD a much more formidable player in the kids cable game. (Disclosure: My wife works for an unrelated unit of Disney.)

Disney, in other words, has a lot more riding on something like “Avengers Assemble” than your run-of-the-mill Sunday-morning cartoon, with a multi-tiered rollout that includes games and iTunes.

In that respect, the Avengers aren’t just over-sized heroes, brought together to save the world. They’re big business.

Marvel's Avengers Assemble

(Series; Disney XD, Sun. May 26, 11 a.m.)

Production

Produced by Marvel Television.

Crew

Executive producers, Alan Fine, Dan Buckley, Joe Quesada, Jeph Loeb; co-executive producers, Stan Lee, Eric Radomski, Man of Action Studios; supervising producers, Todd Casey, Cort Lane; director, Radomski; writers, Man of Action; voice direction/casting, Collette Sunderman; music, Lolita Ritmanis, Kristopher Carter, Michael McQuiston. 60 MIN.

Cast

Voices: Adrian Pasdar, Fred Tatasciore, Roger Craig Smith, Travis Willingham, Troy Baker, Bumper Robinson, Laura Bailey

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  1. Derek37_9 says:

    They must have cut Avengers – Earth’s Mightiest Heroes budget by half. This new series is lacking in the animation department and everything else. To compare this to the Justice League animated series is a travesty beyond words.

  2. yogi says:

    “Featuring wall-to-wall fighting and not much plot, it’s a serviceable addition but lacks the quality Warner Bros. and DC have put into similar efforts, most notably “Justice League.” ”

    AIN’T THAT THE TRUTH!! Business is business.. Even drug dealers make millions of dollars but it doesn’t mean what they are peddling is quality. Marvel has never done cartoons right. DC animation has always given respect to its audience by delivering not only brilliantly animated action but great mature characters. In regards to the animation, Marvel has always catered to the child viewer, only delivering vacant one liners, fast edits and piss poor cartoony animation. Disney’s Marvel does not respect its audience. God help those who can sit through more than 30 seconds of that new spiderman animated series where he flies around on some lame hover bike?!

    • Fobos Dudo says:

      ever heard that old nazi saying? when you start comparing something to hitler, you have alerady gone too far. same with drug dealers.

      but i fully agree on the point that this is sub par compared to the beauty that was dc animated universe, hell even avengers earth’s mightiest was a lot better than this movie tie in. i couldn’t get past the first two introduction of iron man and captain america before i stopped. sighs.

      since the ending of young justice, it seems Ben Ten franchise is the best superhero thing out there right now in animation. to be honest i like the show, and i find it kinda homages the old tropes of superheroes, while avengers assemble is simply shit and mindless, and even ben ten knows when to slow down when needed. when a character introduction scene has him throwing grenades after reuniting with his most powerful opponent ever, just like that, then it has lost me.

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