Saturday at Comic-Con International in San Diego, Marvel Studios treated an all-ages audience to the first two episodes of Marvel Animation’s “The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes,” which will air on Disney XD this fall. “The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” tells the story of a multi-prison breakout by dozens of super-villains, reminiscent of Brian Michael Bendis’ first “New Avengers” story arc. The classic Avengers line-up of Iron Man, Thor, Giant-Man, Wasp, and the Hulk band together to apprehend the super-villains and discover the origin of the mysterious super-villain Gravitron.
The panel opened with Marvel Entertainment’s Chief Creative Officer (and Marvel Publishing’s Editor-In-Chief) Joe Quesada introducing Marvel Entertainment’s newly minted Head of Television Jeph Loeb, who gave a quick rundown of the talent involved in the show, including episode writer Chris Yost and supervising producer Josh Fine. Loeb also noted that several Avengers micro-episodes would air this fall on Disney XD prior to the launch of the series.
Despite his obvious knowledge of all things Avengers, the J.A.R.V.I.S. computer (voiced by Phil LaMarr) announced that Loeb was not recognized for Avengers membership status and asked members of the audience to check the Avengers cards that they received at the beginning of the panel. Those with the announced member numbers on their cards received Avengers action figures. The giveaway portion of the panel closed with the audience screaming “Avengers Assemble!” authorizing J.A.R.V.I.S. to play the first episode.
After an opening credits sequence that features a pop punk theme song and a menagerie of Marvel Heroes — including the Steve Rogers Captain America — the first episode opened with the ever-irascible Iron Man recovering stolen Stark Technology from a cadre of A.I.M scientists. Iron Man shuts down the operation, but the villain behind their scheme is remains unknown.
The next scene depicts an attack on the Vault, one of four super-prisons in the episode. Among the characters that manage to escape is the Hulk, who makes a deal with his alter ego Bruce Banner to work on the side of good in order to retain control of their body. Meanwhile, Hulk’s arch-nemesis the Leader takes over another prison code-named the Cube with the help of the Abomination and the Absorbing Man.
The Vault breakout is followed by a Thor subplot that introduces the thunder god and features “Thor” favorite Jane Foster and a cameo by Baldur the Brave.
The next prison depicted is — surprisingly — the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier, in which Doctor Hank Pym and several assistant Ultrons observe their super-villain prisoners. This scene features cameos by Black Widow, Hawkeye, a female Whiplash, and a Nick Fury that’s a hybrid of both his film and comic personas. Iron Man soon arrives to help Pym in his Ant-Man/Giant-Man gear and take on the Gryphon and the Whirlwind.
Finally, the fourth breakout takes place on the Raft, where Baron Zemo and the mysterious Gravitron make their escape after spending six years imprisoned. Whereas Zemo is simply taking advantage of the situation, Graviton is the powerhouse behind all the breakouts, using his gravity-based powers to destroy the super-prisons.
The second episode of the two-part story reveals in a series of thrills how the five Avengers meet to take on Graviton and learn how he came to be. Unfortunately, seventy-four villains managed to escape the four prisons, and now the Avengers — with the help of SHIELD — must recapture the villains, setting up the premise of the series.
After the second episode, Loeb introduced Man Of Action’s (the studio responsible for “Ben10”) Steven T. Seagle, Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, and Duncan Rouleau to the crowd, and offered them Executive Producer positions on Marvel Animation’s upcoming “Ultimate Spider-Man” animated series. Loeb also announced that Brian Michael Bendis was a writer and consulting producer on the show to a round of applause.