Thursday, January 17, 2013
Cartoon Review - The Avengers
But even with my distaste for superhero comic books, I still find cartoons I can dig. And my current time-eating favorite is The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. It's got all kinds of stuff I don't like - dimensional travel, silly costumes, Kirby-inspired face-masks, and a horrible theme song - but it's also got lots to love.
For instance, this cartoon (unlike the movie) got its background history right. The founding members of the Avengers were Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Wasp and Ant Man. Captain America doesn't come on the scene until the originals find him frozen in ice. The cartoon got this part right.
Another thing that makes Avengers worth watching is the banter. Clearly, this team is built on both the original, Stan Lee creations and the newly minted movie versions. Tony Stark in particular is the cocky, brash genius made interesting in the movies, which we didn't see in the comics until he had been around a while. The dialog between Cap and Stark, between Hulk and Hawkeye, between Wasp and every villain she shoots in the eye, brings dimension to the heroes.
I also like that this team that saves the world on a monthly basis has its share of interpersonal dilemmas. Ant Man leaves, then comes back. Hulk leaves, then comes back. Hawkeye likes Black Widow, then he hates her, then he likes her again. There's a lot of tension between the heroes, which makes for interesting stories even for a comic book that is largely about punching things with magical fists.
But really, all those other things could be merely palatable as long as the story holds up. And while I am tired of time-traveling world conquerors, dimension-tramping frost giants and pseuo-Nazis with magical powers, the stories built on these characters are pretty darn good. The stories build from one episode to the next, culminating in a massive showdown that has been in the works since the first half-hour. If you're even remotely able to find a reason to sit through an invasion by aliens in space spandex who travel through time, The Avengers will have keep you entertained, at least for 18 minutes at a stretch.
Actually, make that 17 minutes. You'll want to fast-forward through the opening music. It is painfully obvious that Danny Elfman was not available to record the theme song, because they apparently had to go with a cheesy boy band that rhymes 'one' with 'won.' As in, 'forever fight as one, until the battle's won.' I could only hear this once, and then I had to fast-forward to guard my sanity.
There are still better cartoons than this one, but The Avengers: Earths Mightiest Heroes has one thing going for it that makes it attractive to me - it's all on Netflix. Both seasons are right there, so that you never have to wait a week to see if Hulk's super-soldier serum will give him shiny green gonads. Plus there are 26 episodes in each season, for more than 15 hours of campy cartoon fun.
So The Avengers has goofy armor. It has dorky villains pulled right out of 1968. It has the new, racially correct Nick Fury (who I would like a lot less if he were not Samuel L. Jackson). It has a theme song that is very similar to musical torture. But the stories are good, the characters are enjoyable, and the show is fun. If you have a whole bunch of time to kill, you can check it out on Netflix.
Posted by Matt Drake at 8:33 PM