In 2008 Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow was released as a direct-to-DVD animated film, the fifth entry released by Lionsgate Home Entertainment as part of the Marvel Animated Features series. The movie depicts a "what if?" reality where most of the Avengers have been killed in battle by Ultron and his army of machines. Iron Man, one of the few heroes that survived, took the children of the Avengers to a refuge hidden somewhere in the Arctic Circle, where he keeps them safe and trains them for twelve years. The group of kids - James Rogers (son of Captain America and Black Widow), Torunn (daughter of Thor and I'm guessing Sif), Azari T'Challa (son of Black Panther and Storm) and Henry Pym Jr. (son of Ant-Man/Giant Man and Wasp, obviously) - are told each night by Tony Stark the story of how their parents gathered together and about their adventures up to their defeat. Hawkeye was seen part of the team in flashback scenes and he was identified as "the Archer".
That opening narration, featuring sepia-toned images of how the Avengers formed, fought against evil, eventually disbanded and their ultimate defeat was probably the best part of this movie for me. As a bonus, Ultron was portrayed here as a more serious, nearly unstoppable foe - a huge improvement over his previously discussed boring incarnation on Avengers: United They Stand. I don't think he's as awesome as he was during Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes (even though both versions have the same voice actor, the great Tom Kane), but it works great within the context of this movie. There's not that much to talk about here, though I got to admit the movie does have a couple of neat moments.
The story really starts when the Vision arrives at their refuge, badly damaged by Ultron's forces. He was another one of the heroes that survived (though technically you can't kill a machine) and has been hiding from Ultron inside his headquarters, Ultra City. He has returned to Tony to inform him that Ultron has now conquered most of the world, and that he has learned Hwekeye's son (Francis Barton, and his mother was most likely Mockingbird) has also survived and they have to go find him. As the story progresses the kids encounter Francis Barton who joins them on their mission to stop Ultron. Francis has obviously inherited some of his father's archery skills as well as some of his people skills, as from the beginning he forms a rivalry with James Rogers - sort of mirroring their fathers. Francis' design looks pretty good - I'm probably missing something as to why he has white hair though. His voice actor is Adrian Petriw and he does a decent enough job here, as do most of the other kids' voice actors. There's not much to talk about here, especially since Clint is nowhere to be found in the story, but there is this little quote I liked, which pretty much describes Clint's personality:
Tony Stark: Can you help us get out of the city?
Francis: Yeah, right. Help the guy who created Ultron, who got my dad killed? What do you think my father would have done, Stark?
Tony Stark: Clint? He would have punched me in the face, then he would have helped me.
Francis: Wow. You really knew my dad.
The one who ultimately destroys Ultron is the Hulk, the last of the surviving heroes who has been hiding in the desert all these years. The fight between Hulk and Ultron was pretty great, as well as the fight between the kids and the Iron Avengers (robots based on their parents, with all of their abilities). Each one of the robots had a pretty neat design, including Hawkeye's who retains his classic, purple outfit. The Hawkeye android is destroyed by Hawkeye Junior with the aid of an exploding arrow. Francis gets the chance to partake in some nicely done action scenes, and overall this was a fun movie though it's nothing spectacular. Even if it's obviously intended for a younger audience, it's more entertaining than most of the current Marvel animated series, which are supposedly " only for kids" as well. If the plots would be a little more serious and the dialogue improved a little, I'd say this could be a pretty decent animated series.
The one major complaint I have about the movie concerns Thor - he pretty much quit defending Earth and lived (presumably) a peaceful life in Asgard while most of his teammates and friends were destroyed by Ultron. You'd think he'd at least try and do something about that, but he's absent from the majority of the movie, and (apart from the flashback at the beginning of the story) only appears at the end, to speak with his daughter. I thought Thor's characterization (or lack of it) here really hurts this movie. Other than that though, like I said it's a pretty fun film. Apologies for the rather short article this week; there's just not that much to talk about when it comes to this movie, but I figured it warranted a full article rather than to pair it up with the next installment. Next time: Hawkeye's minor appearances on both Iron Man: Armored Adventures and The Super Hero Squad Show!