Marvel Entertainment’s Executive Vice President in charge of Television, Jeph Loeb, flanked by Joe Quesada and Arune Singh, announced to fans at New York Comic-Con that…he didn’t have anything to announce. Live-action Marvel TV shows are coming, and they’ll air on ABC and/or ABC Family, but so far nothing is set in stone. Marvel’s television division is moving slowly so they can get things right. When they’re ready, “You guys will be the first to know,” Loeb declared
As for Marvel Animation, the next project after The Avengers will be “Ultimate Spider-Man,” as was previously announced. Paul Dini will be writing the pilot, and The Man of Action team, who brought us Ben 10 and Generator Rex, will also be doing some of the writing. Most importantly, “Ultimate Spider-Man” scribe Brian Michael Bendis will be involved. “I promise you, when you come here next year, you’ll be able to see some of the most kick-ass animation you’ve ever seen!”
After that declaration, Loeb was all about “The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.” The two-episode pilot adventure, titled “Breakout,” will air for the first time on Disney XD on Wednesday October 20, but NYCC attendees got to see it in full.
The micro episodes that have been on view at Marvel.com and DisneyXD.com will be compiled and shown on DisneyXD between now and the 20th, but as Loeb pointed out “What you’re seeing in the micro episodes is exactly that, that word ‘micro’. When you guys see the pilot, you’re gonna see how huge this show is, and how many characters and how many villains and how much fun this show can be!”
The initial Avengers team will match the original team in the comics. Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Ant Man/Giant Man, and an anime-influenced version of the Wasp. The team will soon grow, with Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow as early contenders. Beyond the actual lineup, however, the team’s origin story is completely different from that of the classic Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created comic.
SPOILER ALERT: The rest of this report details the first episodes of the series.
The first episode begins with a teaser, showing Iron Man mopping up some A.I.M. agents in the process of selling Stark Tech to Latveria.
Meanwhile, Bruce Banner is being held prisoner in The Cube, along with other energy-themed or gamma-powered villains, including Abomination, Absorbing Man and The Leader. “You know what the cube is, really?” asks Banner, “It’s a gamma bomb waiting to go off!”
Following scenes establish characters at other high-tech super villain prisons; The Vault, The Big House and The Raft. One of the prisoners in The Big House is Hawkeye. The Wasp and Hank Pym are there also.
Lights flicker, sparks fly and security goes down at all four prisons. Mayhem ensues. Dozens of Marvel villains appear, either in cameo or actively engaging the heroes. Hawkeye recovers his equipment and starts defending the villains’ confiscated tech from their previous owners. Pym fights for his life, shrinking or growing as necessary to dodge attacks or dish out punishment. Iron Man assumes Hawkeye is just another villain, calling him “Arrow Guy.” He gets teamed-up on by Crimson Dynamo, Whiplash and some others, finding himself forced to retreat when his armor is damaged.
The violence is contrasted by scenes of Thor, still unaware of the breakout, sharing an awkward romantic scene with Jane Foster.
Finally, the episode wraps when the most dangerous criminal of all emerges from the wrecked S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier that had contained The Big House: Graviton.
Episode two opens with a quick retelling of Graviton’s origin: a physicist recruited for Nick Fury’s Super Soldier program, he was struck down by an experiment gone awry. Upon awakening with incredible gravity powers and finally freed from Fury’s grasp, he wants revenge.
Meanwhile, the doctor who had been treating Banner is exposed to gamma radiation, developing green hair and enormous strength. Banner Hulks out, rescuing the changed Doc Samson from the gamma villains. Hulk has a vision of Banner, who persuades him to help contain the super villain breakout.
From there, the episode consists primarily of the fight with Graviton, with all the other villains largely forgotten. While that was a flaw, the fight scenes captured the desperation of the fight. They didn’t just trade punches for twenty minutes. Thor summons lightning. Pym summons ants. Iron Man blasts. The Wasp’s blasts are even more effective, because they’re more focused and are so unexpected. Still, all this power is no match for Graviton, until he makes the mistake of declaring “I’m the strongest one there is!”
Cue the Hulk entering the fray and battling the enraged villain.
When the fight is over, Fury tries to recruit the heroes as a fighting force. After all, somebody has to round up the 74 villains known to be at large. They refuse to place themselves under his command, but Pym points out that Fury is right about one thing: The world needs a team of heroes to tackle problems too big for any one. A team is born.
The episode ends with a mystery – Graviton was not the one who orchestrated the breakout. In order to learn the answer, viewers will have to tune in to future episodes.
Overall, the show is well done. The action scenes are gripping and the characterizations ring true. The characters all stand out as individuals. Some of the humor is a bit heavy-handed, especially Thor’s embarrassment when talking to Jane. Still, nobody is watching The Avengers for the jokes. It’s all about the action, and “The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” delivers.