Monday, March 23, 2020

The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes

I started watching Disney XD’s Earth’s Mightiest Heroes not long after Disney Plus showed up with a plethora of Marvel cartoons from the past few decades. My brother had recommended this Avengers cartoon, so I figured I’d give it a shot. It was a slow start as the founding members of the team were established, but overall I wasn’t disappointed. Fifty-two episodes introduced dozens of beloved Marvel characters and covered lots of comic-inspired story arcs. So here are some of my highlights (in no particular order).

Masters of Evil: Throughout the series, a team of villains forms, first through the Breakout and then additional members join later on. On top of that, we also got the Serpent Society. This is something missing from the MCU. Other than Hydra, we don’t really have any villain teams in the films. Makes it more of a challenge when the villains band together too.

Black Widow arc: By the time Black Widow was introduced in Iron Man 2, she was already a hero. We’ve heard of her dark history but never seen it. Maybe we’ll see flashbacks of it in her solo movie, but it was nice to see a darker side to Natasha (even if it was all a cover for Fury’s mission).

Kang the Conqueror: I honestly didn’t know anything about Kang before this series, but now I love him as a villain. His story is complex and it spanned the show’s two seasons (appearing on and off). I would love to see Kang show up in the MCU. With Thanos gone, Kang could have a nice overarching plot in the upcoming phases of the movies.

Ultron: Obviously I knew the character from Age of Ultron, but Earth’s Mightiest Heroes gives him a stronger story. His movie gave him a few days’ worth of action, whereas the cartoon gave him a few episodes’ worth of story and a reprise in season 2. It actually made me wonder if Ultron could be resurrected in the movies someday. Maybe he uploaded himself into cyberspace before Vision finished him off?

Battle of Asgard: Unless it somehow happens in the Loki Disney Plus universe, this plot isn’t going to happen in the MCU, so it was cool to see it in the cartoon. In the Season 1 finale, the Avengers ended up in Asgard and ended up saving it from Loki and friends. This kind of off-world battle is something we’ve yet to see from the MCU Avengers.

Fantastic Four and Wolverine: While Fox had the movie rights for the Fantastic Four, X-Men and other related franchises, Disney was still able to use their characters in cartoon form. The Fantastic Four appeared multiple times to team up with the Avengers. Wolverine appeared with the New Avengers and Beast was in one of Fury’s photographs. Since some of our original MCU Avengers have moved on, it’s near impossible we’ll see the X-Men or Fantastic Four team up with them. But this made it possible, even if it wasn’t on the big screen.

Heroes for Hire: Another set of heroes that’ll likely never team up with the Avengers on the big screen are the Netflix Marvel heroes. There are rumors that Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and the others will be rebooted on Disney Plus, but for now we have what we have. There have always been rumors of the Defenders crossing over into the movies, but it’ll probably never happen. So for the moment, I’ll take the "Heroes for Hire" episode and the New Avengers team that brought Iron Fist and Luke Cage into the mix.

Secret Invasion: My brother had told me about this story arc in the past, so I was intrigued from the start. Spread out over the space of half a season, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes sets up the Skrull Invasion. So far in the MCU we’ve only seen good guy Skrulls. However, we could easily see some nasty Skrulls come up in our future. Either way, this story arc was just as interesting as my brother made it sound.

Quake and Mockingbird: Like the Fox-owned properties and the Netlfix heroes, I knew these characters, this time from Agents of SHIELD. Though part of the MCU, Daisy Johnson and Bobbi Morse are unlikely to crossover into the movies. So just like the other previously mentioned heroes, this made it a special moment when two of my favorite heroines appeared.

New Avengers: When the Avengers are out of commission, Tony recruits some allies to protect the Earth. The Thing, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and War Machine banded together to pick up the slack. Because of already mentioned issues with Iron Fist and Luke Cage (and possible contract issues with Spider-Man) it’s unlikely we’ll ever get this exact line-up in the MCU, but maybe someday.

Overall, being a fan of the MCU, this series gave me a new love for some of these characters. It also showed me how much there is to look forward to in the MCU. They have such a wide array of characters to introduce and to get us to love. Heroes. Villains. There’s a lot to love and the MCU has only scratched the surface.

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