Monday, August 08, 2011

Earth's Mightiest Heroes

So I've been really getting into the Avenging spirit lately, have you?

Last week I saw Captain America: The First Avenger and it was one of my favorite superhero films of all time. Director Joe Johnston just nailed the tone and look. Everyone keeps referencing his work on The Rocketeer, which was great, but Don't forget he also made a few clunkers so I'll say I was really pleased to see he brought his A-game to this one. Minor nitpicks like the way they killed off Bucky aside the film delivered on all fronts especially the cast. The film has pitch perfect casting and really great performances all around. For anyone who hasn't seen it yet I'd obviously, highly recommend it.

So as we all should know by now, Caps story is dovetailing into next summer's big Avengers film, being directed by none other than Jon Favreau. The movie will bring together every geek's wildest comic to film dreams, with Captain America joining Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, Hawkeye, and Black Widow on Marvel's premiere super team The Avengers. There's already a short teaser trailer up for the film, and if you missed it the first time, the ending and credit sequence to The First Avenger, give us a bit more teaser goodies on the upcoming film.

I'm pretty stoked about The Avengers movie, since I've been a Marvel fanboy for a very long time. While I was never a huge Avengers follower, preferring to stick mostly with Spider-Man and some of the cosmic guys like Silver Surfer, I always enjoyed seeing my favorites interact with the Avengers, and whenever there was a big company wide event storyline I was always excited. The trick as with any ensemble cast is to make sure everyone gets enough screen time, and that it all serves the story. With this creative team involved though I am heartily optimistic.

I also just recently finished watching the first season of the latest Marvel cartoon on Netflix, and it couldn't have gotten me more in the mood for some Avengers action. The cartoon, which launches into its second season this October on DisneyXD, is of course The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes.

The first season consists of twenty six 22 minutes episodes and will set you up really well with everything you'd want to know about the Avengers and more. All of the major players are introduced and explored, as well as most of the major villains, and even a few of the bigger storylines are tackled in this first season. As anyone who's read The Avengers comic even a little bit like me knows, the team has had a few different makeups over the years and Earth's Mightiest Heroes is no different. After the obligatory origin episodes, which I'm actually very glad they didn't rush through, the team lineup features: their team leader Iron Man, along with Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Ant Man, Wasp, Hawkeye, and Black Panther. Additionally a few other 'Avengers-to-be' make regular appearances, like Black Widow, and Wonder Man. What's great about these characters and the writing, headed up by Christopher Yost, is that everyone is given time to develop organically, we get a great balance of character moments where the players actually grow throughout the season and amazing battle sequences where the viewer is treated to just minute after minute of perfectly choreographed battle scenes.

If you think you're even remotely interested and you have Netflix streaming, I'd really recommend checking it out. The season is available for instant streaming right now, and if you only want to give one or two episodes a try, jump ahead to the two parter The Breakout, which kicks the season into high gear and gives a good sample of the action to come.

While I was on a Netflix streaming kick I realized that there are a lot of other Marvel superhero shows online. The 90s cartoons of X-Men, Spider-Man, Spider-Man Unlimited, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and Silver Surfer are all available in their entirety right now; although Fantastic Four, and perhaps to be expected the pretty awful Avengers: United They Stand cartoons are not there. Other great Marvel cartoons are though, including the Spider-Man 1967 series, the first of the excellent two season Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon, X-Men: Evolution, Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes, and the first season of the currently airing Iron Man: Armored Adventures (season 2 is in full swing now on Nicktoons). Unfortunately, none of the other more recent Marvel animated series (Wolverine and the X-Men or any of the Marvel anime projects) are available yet; nor are any of the other older Marvel animated series like the classic Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. That said there is also one more cool new series that is available on instant Netflix streaming that should be checked out: Black Panther the animated series. While I understand why fans we're a bit disappointing to learn that this miniseries (its only 120-ish minutes long in its entirety) wasn't much more than a souped up motion comic, I'd still really urge you to have a look. If you like motion comics, then you're in luck, this is probably the best produced motion comic ever with voice talents that include the amazing Djimon Hounsou, Alfre Woodard, and Kerry Washington. Also it's got a pretty kick ass opening title sequence with a catchy song.

If from all my babbling you can't tell yet, I am a pretty huge fan of these Marvel superheros. I love seeing how they work solo, getting in depth on their backstory and rogues gallery; but I'm also a huge fan of when they meet, crossover, and have excellent adventures together. That's why I'm so looking forward to the Avengers movie. A great crossover crossover is in the making and I don't think anyone would have anticipated that it could be done on such a scale in a live action form. For us fanboys this is a dream come true, and for everyone else, we'll this is the best time ever to get into a hero or three. I'm sure we'll get into more Avengers goodness as the film approaches release next summer, but until then count me very excited!

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