Avengers Assemble, Episode 1

Avengers Assemble

Premiere Date: July 7, 2013
Produced by: Man of Action, Marvel Animation
Directed by: Eric Radomski
Starring: Laura Bailey, Troy Baker, Adrian Pasdar, Bumper Robinson, Roger Craig Smith, Fred Tatasciore, Travis Willingham

Grade Sheet

Characters/char. development:
Plot structure:
Writing style/script:
Dialogue/character interaction:
Romance: N/A
Visual spectacle/SFX:

Overall Impressions

So I might be a little biased, since Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is literally my favorite television show in the entire universe, but the pilot episode of its successor, Avengers Assemble (you can download the first episode free on iTunes now), feels decidedly weaker. Then again, I’ve never really enjoyed pilot episodes in the first place, so I will wait before passing judgment.

The premise is that the Avengers disassembled after what we assume was the Battle of New York and continue fighting bad guys solo. Tony spies on all of them, bitching at JARVIS and whining about how they don’t need his help, before he finds out Cap is fighting Red Skull. Iron Man flies off to assist him, just in time to see him vaporized by Red Skull, who is working with M.O.D.O.K., who promptly takes down Iron Man. Iron Man issues a call to gather the team back together again–the Avengers Protocol–and convinces them to avenge Cap.

I don’t mind the premise, but the blatant antagonism felt a little heavy-handed to me. I get that a bickering team makes for better character development, but I think they went a little overboard to “echo the tone and feel” of the live-action film. It’s okay if the teammates don’t like each other—it’s uncomfortable and kind of sad if they appear to hate each other for no reason. (Seriously, why is Hawkeye so angry? He just came across as kind of mean.)

There were gems: Thor’s explanation of the Valhalla party of the night, Natasha’s nicely animated hair, the sudden and inexplicably intense bromance between Cap and Iron Man (you won’t hear me complaining, but wha?!). And I enjoyed the Falcon introduction very much. The fanboying over Cap was a nice nod toward their history together. I always really like Bumper Robinson’s voice acting, so I’m looking forward to what he will bring to the show.

The episode felt a little too fast-paced to me (all action and little character), but it is only the first of a two-parter, so we’ll see. The animation, which mixes 2D work with CGI, is nice, but it’s neither a detractor or particularly impressive so far. Visually, it reminds me of Ultimate Spider-Man (I assume this is intentional and will probably hold true for Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. as well), but the tone and overlapping voice actors is where the similarities between the two end. The palette of Avengers Assemble feels much darker.

My brain can’t seem to stop drawing comparisons between this show and its predecessor, but I am determined to judge it on its own merit. Stay tuned.

The Verdict

Though the first part of the pilot has pacing issues and seems to be trying to hard to emulate the tone of the Avengers movie, there is the potential for another great Avengers cartoon. Here’s to hoping that they do more justice to the characters in Part 2.