Gone but Not Forgotten: Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes
“You think you’re the only superhero in the world? Mr. Stark, you’ve become part of a bigger universe. You just don’t know it yet.”
It’s probably too early to call these the immortal words of Samuel L. Jackson. Nevertheless, when Jackson as Marvel’s go to string puller, Nick Fury, states these words after the credits of the first Iron Man, he jumpstarts a shared movie universe of any movie Marvel produces on their own. So now, all of their superhero solo adventures occur in the same reality where certain ideas and references cross over. These movies so far include Iron Man and its sequel, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger. This was all working up to the box office smash, The Avengers, which stunned everyone by breaking records, and it’s still not finished its theatrical run.
In anticipation of the crossover movie, Marvel enlisted the help of outside studio Film Roman to produce an Avengers cartoon, dubbed Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. It follows the basic Avengers storyline: Nick Fury, director of SHIELD, brings together a team of superheroes led by the brilliant and quick-witted Iron Man. The series started out as a series of shorts that put the spotlight on the individual superheroes, that not only included the roster from the movie, but also Ant-Man, Wasp, Black Panther, and Ms. Marvel.
That still only scratches the surface of the characters they have introduced. Heroes and villains alike have been paraded through Avengers territory for team ups and showdowns showing the full extent of the Marvel universe. And the Marvel universe is very, very large with some legacies dating back to WWII and spanning all corners of the universe. For instance, one episode showed off the Guardians of the Galaxy, which includes a giant anthropomorphic tree and a tough-talking, gun-slinger raccoon. Kevin Feige, President of Production, has commented on his excitement over the possibility of bringing the GoG to the bigscreen. Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is practically the spring board to introduce any obscure Marvel character that the fanboys drool over but probably don’t have the clout with the bigger audience. Despite the impossibly large roster, it juggled screen time effectively and put the characters to good use during some very exciting adventures. The reception has been almost unanimously positive, which makes me wonder why they cancelled it before the second season could finish.
Well, there are couples of reasons. The first and foremost sounds like it may just be a rumor, but most people believe that Marvel wanted an Avengers cartoon they could call their own. As it stands, they are sharing this one with Film Roman. I can see the importance of full ownership, especially for a publisher that is now owned by Disney, but I can’t help but think of the old adage “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” The second and more important reason is that Marvel is already hard at work at another Avengers cartoon due to debut in 2013 called Avengers Assemble. Considering the movie had the same name in some international markets, I wouldn’t be surprised if it had a deeper connection to the movie and a much smaller roster focusing on the film’s core members.
The worst thing about Avenger Assemble is that is described as an episodic series consisting of self-contained stories episode to episode. As a geek in love with the new long-arc story structure that exists in some of the best shows on television like Mad Men and Breaking Bad, it pains me to here that they are refunding the near perfect mythos and pacing of Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in order to be more kid-friendly. The reasoning sounds stupid since I am basically asking them to make a more mature Saturday morning style cartoon, but DC Comics always seems to have more success when it goes that route instead of the episodic structure.
Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes will definitely be missed, but thankfully they haven’t run out of episodes yet. From the sound of it, they will be able to touch on the Kree-Skrull War, a landmark Avengers story, before they are given their last meal. No worries, though, Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes will live a long full life being replayed in geek’s DVD players all over because if there’s anything comic fans do best, its remembering.