Being the avid MCU fan that I am, I... did not see it the day it came out. It's not that I wasn't pumped for the movie, it's just that...
A. My family and I were waiting for our schedules to line up so we could go see it together.
B. I would rather watch it in a theatre that isn't packed to the brim with people dressed up to make the place look like the Mos Eisley Cantina. (No offense, cosplayers and/or Mos Eisley Cantina patrons.) Even then, there were still a few noisy kids. I'll never forget the part where Star-Lord holds up a cassette tape. The youngun behind me literally blurted out "What's that?" I am officially old.
Back on topic, let's be honest. The only reason these episodes really exist is to generate buzz for the Guardians of the Galaxy film. So let's look at the most blatant of these tie-ins, the Ultimate Spider-Man Special Episode that they're even airing before the rest of Season 3.
|Has nothing to do with the "Web Warriors" theme, so it doesn't get the new logo. Of course this is important.|
Nova: "And who's that in first place? Why, it's the dude called Nova!"
You know, the last episode with the Guardians of the Galaxy gave Nova some much-needed (if temporary) character depth. Maybe this episode can do the same thing? I mean, they wouldn't make a super-special-super-hyped episode have no long term effect on continuity and/or character development, right? ...Uh-oh.
So he and Spider-Man continue to race through NYC, flight vs. Spider-Cycle. After Nova pulls ahead, Spider-Man activates flight mode on the Cycle.
Nova: "That is totally cheating!"
Yes, flying is cheating. You're both disqualified.
Nova: "Ahh, what's the point anyway?"
Nova seems to be a bit depressed. He's been all over the universe, flown from star to star, probably had tea with Galactus, rescued beautiful monsters from ravening princesses, et cetera. Earth? Not that exciting, relatively speaking. This looks like it's about to change when Spidey crashes his bike into a cloaked spaceship that promptly uncloaks.
Rocket: "Ehh... there's a bug on the windshield."
Well, hi, Rocket! Good to see that you're voiced by someone who can keep a consistent accent this time. Trevor Devall, according to IMDb. Show of hands, who wants to see Rocket Raccoon voiced by Trevor Slattery?
|"Some people call me a rodent. I prefer to think of myself as a teacherrrrrr."|
Spidey helps Star-Lord fix the ship by webbing some cables and hitting a button, stopping the ship an inch from Aunt May's head and recloaking it, too. Star-Lord fills in Spidey and Nova that Drax and Gamora got injured along with the ship while fleeing battle.
Rocket explains that this was all done by "Titus," a bounty-hunting alien tiger-man. He's basically the Marvel version of Sinestro, having ben a member of the Nova Corps before he betrayed them. Sam's the last Nova, and Titus is coming for his helmet.
|Why? It won't even fit his head.|
Look, Spider-Man. Nova's a jerk. Stop being an even bigger jerk.
Star-Lord and Groot head off to do something or other to fix the engine. To accomplish this, Star-Lord hides near Peter's house and scans the area. Meanwhile, Groot disguises himself as a tree and starts flirting with another tree.
|If anyone out there even thinks about a "Groot's got wood" joke....|
Later, on the Tri-Carrier, Peter completely fails to act natural while smuggling Rocket in inside a backpack. They pinpoint the locked room the Omnium is in, and Rocket hacks his way in. He nabs the Omnium Generator once inside, as Nova wonders why Nick Fury has something all alien-y like this.
Rocket: "Probably found it and doesn't even know what it is."
Or maybe he does, because Nova, Spider-Man, and the hidden Rocket walk out of the armory to find some S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and an inquisitive Nick Fury wondering what the deal is. Before Spidey can get out of this one, a Chitauri ship crashes into the Tri-Carrier and its troops attack everything in sight. Spidey webs the aliens up, and Fury orders around the S.H.I.E.L.D. troops. The heroes take this opportunity to leave, and they rush to the deck of the helicarrier. Unfortunately, their path is blocked by Titus himself, demanding the Nova helmet, or Spidey gets it!
Spidey manages to dodge out of "it"'s way, and helps lay a light smack down on Titus. The heroes escape to the suburbs, where a group of kids talk about who the best superhero is. Suddenly, the ship uncloaks, aliens appear, and Groot gets up to start fighting.
Groot: "I am Groot!"
Boy, Groot gets all the best lines, doesn't he?
So they fight, and Drax and Gamora even join in, having finally recovered from their offscreen injuries. Well, that was pointless. Much like the very inclusion of Drax and Gamora, because they do little but fight aliens from this point on.
|That, and reenact the end of Batman and Robin.|
The heroes enter their ship and take their stations. Spidey's station is "Sit down and shut up," but in nicer terms. Titus' ship opens fire, and we get some standard "I need more power" dialogue alongside Star-Lord's less-than-standard explanation of his preferred aerial maneuvers.
Star-Lord: "Can't hit what he can't hit!"
How very Zen.
They fire their weapons at Titus' ship, and we get some aerial dogfights with smaller craft to fill out the running time. Thanks to some lucky hits, Star-Lord and Rocket get injured, and they need Spider-Man to fly the ship, instead of Gamora, or Nova, or anyone else. After a few hijinks, Rocket recovers and takes the pilot's seat. Well, that was absolutely pointless. Why is this "special" episode 70% filler?
Nova takes his helmet off, and starts wondering what Titus meant when, during his earlier boasting, he mentioned that Nova had only been using a fraction of what the helmet is capable of.
Spider-Man: "Makes sense. You only use a fraction of your brain."
That's a myth, Spider-Man. Now go tell the writers of Lucy that.
They start wondering what Titus knows about the helmet that Nova doesn't, and Nova demands that Rocket turn the ship around. He does, and Nova flies out of the ship and straight through Titus' shields. And his ship. Then he turns around and does it again. And again. And again. And again. And many, many more times, finally coming face-to-face with Titus.
Nova: "I should thank you, Titus. Sometimes I forget what I'm capable of. What I was destined to be. And just so that we're both perfectly clear, you will never take this helmet from me."
Nova goes nova and destroys the ship, which crashes into the ocean. He makes his way back to his team, but he's different. Not only is he glowier than usual, he's wearing the uniform from the comics with the black helmet.
|It's the season of costume changes, what with this and the Cloak and Dagger episode.|
So the secret power of the helmet is to change colors? What kind of Rainbow Brite mess is that?
He goes out and flies around for a bit to celebrate becoming the "Ultimate" Nova, and the others go to attack Titus, who somehow survived the crash and is now making his way across the beach. Spider-Man manages to take down Nova's greatest enemy with the help of the Guardians. And a final blow from Nova, so we can pretend that Nova is now a better, more well-rounded person after this episode.
Rocket: "Hey, I didn't get a shot!"
But before the Guardians can leave with their prisoner, the Tri-Carrier arrives in the sky, with Nick Fury appearing on the beach.
Gamora: "Well, if it isn't Nicholas Joseph Fury."
Nick Fury: "Gamora. You promised you'd never set foot on Earth again."
Gamora: "I lied."
Nick Fury and a green-skinned space babe. Beat that, James Bond.
Chitauri ships escape from the sea, and the Guardians leave Earth to go chase them down.
Nick Fury: "The next time aliens invade Earth, I'm the first person you call."
...which was actually Spidey's idea in the first place.
Spider-Man and Nova race through the city to bookend the episode, and it ends.
C'mon, let's review. I've got a few words. Well, more than a few.