NYCC2010: "Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes" == Highly Concentrated Kick-Ass
|(l to r) Jeph Loeb, Arune Singh, Joe Quesada|
During the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes panel, newly minted head of Marvel TV Jeph Loeb half-apologized for the lack of new news to report by telling the audience, “When we’re ready to give you something, it’s going to be kick-ass.”
He put his money where his mouth is by devoting the bulk of the panel at the 2010 New York Comic Con to screen the two-part premiere episode bowing on Disney XD on October 20, 2010. And the result?
Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes kicks ass. Really, really hard.
In fact, I find it a little hard to pad this report out to a satisfying length because there are only so many ways to say, “This show really kicks ass,” without being entirely redundant, drifting into unprintable superlatives, or spoiling the whole thing. Suffice it to say that Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes starts at 11 and gets bigger, badder, and better from there. As much as I loved the show by the end, Justice League had to take the bulk of its disappointing first season to figure out how to make their ensemble superhero show work. Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is starting at around Justice League season 2 levels of kick-assery. We get about five minutes of quiet to set up individual plot threads for Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and the Hulk (“quiet” being a relative term, since we still get Iron Man pounding the hell out of a bunch of AIM goons). Then everything explodes and it will take all the king’s horses and all the king’s men (and one plucky, winning woman in the Wasp) to even begin to set things right again.
Like the best Marvel Comics, Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes features highly imperfect heroes who feel more grounded than the heroic archetypes who occupy the DC pantheon. It is very easy to believe that characters like Iron Man, Thor, and the Hulk have prodigious power at their disposal, and yet we are also quite positive that these characters are in real peril by the end of the premiere episode. It’s also nice to note out that despite the massive battle scenes and incredibly high stakes, the crew of Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes did not forget to bring the funny occasionally. Some of the one-liners absolutely brought down the house without ever feeling out of place or inappropriate.
One thing for sure is that Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is the hardcore Marvel zombie’s wet dream, with its sizable cast featuring an incredible array of Marvel characters. The number of supervillains alone is staggering—if you’ve ever read about someone in a comic that wasn’t Spider-Man or the X-Men, odds are you’re going to see them in the pilot episode. The choice of the big villain who precipitates the formation of the team is a real surprise, but we come to fully believe that he could take out the Avengers before they even get started. We also get a lot of throwaway cameos from Thor’s Jane Foster (now a charming paramedic) to numerous SHIELD agents like Clay Quartermain, Maria Hill, and even the Agents of Atlas’ Jimmy Woo. None of these elements will make newcomers feel left out (which was always my major beef with Wolverine and the X-Men); they’re the same kind of in-jokes that would make me smile so regularly during Justice League but which a non-comics fan will just interpret as added texture.
It might sound like hyperbole worthy of Stan Lee himself, but I feel confident to say that Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is going to set a new standard for superhero cartoons. I’ve been disappointed by Marvel cartoons for the better part of two decades, with the notable exceptions of Spectacular Spider-Man and Super Hero Squad. All the elements that made Spectacular Spider-Man a success are here for Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, scaled up for its larger cast of superheroes and their much higher power levels. Any last holdouts worried that Marvel would be changed for the worse after the Disney takeover can put their fears to rest. From my perspective, all the changes are for the good, and I mean no slight to the wonderful works of the Disney studio when I say, “This ain’t no Disney cartoon.”
Since most of the panel was dedicated to the pilot episode, there wasn’t much time for any news and no time for Q&A. Jeph Loeb stated that they have nothing new to announce at this time other than what’s already out there (Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and next year’s Ultimate Spider-Man). He did state that there are live-action and animated projects in the works, and that some of them were destined for ABC and ABC Family. With luck, there will be something to announce within a year. He did state that “all the rumors you’ve heard are just rumors,” saying they wanted to take their time to get it right and citing shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville, and Lost as the touchstones they were aiming for. Loeb also noted the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes micro-episodes now available on Marvel.com, DisneyXD.com, and, and YouTube, and added that 22-minute compilations of these micro-episodes will begin airing on DisneyXD.com starting next Monday, October 11.
After the pilot was over (to thunderous applause), Loeb sent the audience out by thanking the crew that made Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes possible and added, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.” Big promises, but if Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is any indication, Loeb and the rest of the crew at Marvel TV have got what it takes to back up that boast.