And then the world was put in even greater peril when Iron Man knocked Red Skull into the Tesseract, allowing him to take control of its powers directly.
So let's take a look at the last episode of Season 1, "The Final Showdown."
|Anyone else humming "The Final Countdown"?|
The array starts collapsing as MODOK vows revenge against his former boss.
Tony Stark: "Sounds like we all want to bring the Skull down, MODOK. Maybe that gives us a mutual goal."
But MODOK and the other former Cabal members teleport away, leaving the Avengers to their fate. Said fate being the final destruction of the array in a massive explosion.
|Well, that was a short finale.|
Tony tries to foster some good will, but Hawkeye and Hulk are itching for a fight as much as the entire Cabal is, so fighting is inevitable. In the struggle, Black Widow jumps on to MODOK's massive head and demands to know what's really going on.
Black Widow: "That nanosecond-processor brain of yours could easily have teleported the Cabal and left us. What's your game, MODOK?"
MODOK's game is apparently hide-and-seek, because he and Black Widow teleport away to who-knows-where. Meanwhile, Cap helps Tony limp down the halls of the tower, hoping that he's got a plan up his sleeve. Tony does. It's called "Working with the Cabal."
Captain America: "I've tried teaming up with the enemy before. It's a surefire way to deep six you and your team."
Captain America, of course, is referring to that time back in World War 2 when he teamed up with Dracula to fight HYDRA. Which succeeded. Meaning that Captain America is a liar.
They don't get to do much more debating before Tony's damaged chest reactor gets the better of him. Luckily, JARVIS is ready to operate as soon as Tony gets to sick bay. After about two seconds of screen time, Tony's back and better than ever. The only problem? He used up all of his suits in Arizona.
Captain America: "Iron or no, you're still the man."
Tony Stark: "Sure. I'll go all billionaire philanthropist on their butts."
Captain America: "Billionaire genius philanthropist."
|"Uh, billionaire genius playboy philanthropist, thank you very much."|
Tony Stark: "The entire tower is my armor."
More conveniently random robot arms come out of the ceiling and throw Hyperion into a metal container filled with water.
Tony Stark: "That was my moving my pinky."
And a burst of cold air emits from the vents, freezing Hyperion solid.
Tony Stark: "You don't wanna know what I did to make that."
While Tony takes care of the interior, JARVIS sets up the automated defenses on the outside of the tower to prepare for the Red Skull's inevitable return. The other Avengers stuff the Cabal into containment cells, but they note that MODOK is still MIA. Tony tells the others that he ran a full scan of the tower, and MODOK and Widow are both nowhere to be found. But right now, there's a bigger problem. The Red Skull's attacking every major continent on the planet. At once. Personally. Not only has the Red Skull apparently summoned a massive robot army, but he's found a way to be in six places at once.
|And to make matters worse, it look like he possesses the Phoenix Force.|
You know, Avengers Assemble, as good as this episode is, you probably don't want to remind your audience of a better show they could be watching instead.
Tony Stark: "We've got clearance from across the globe to stop the Skull."
...what? Since when have the Avengers concerned themselves with whether or not they had "clearance" to save the day? I mean, yeah, in the comics this is sometimes the case. But let me just ask this. Who gave them clearance to invade Latveria? Or to invade Transylvania? By establishing that the Avengers need "clearance" to save the day in other countries, it just calls into question the times that this didn't come up in regards to their actions.
Anyway, Tony and his building-suit will take care of New York and Cap goes to defend Sydney, which everybody knows is the capitol of Australia, despite what the people of Canberra say. Hawkeye gets to defend Rio de Janeiro, and the Hulk gets Cairo. I was going to nitpick about how the animators put the pyramids of Giza so close to the city limits, but forced perspective makes the pyramids seem close in real-life photos of Cairo, too. And the actual depiction of Cairo is pretty accurate, to boot.
|Come on, episode, give me something to rant about already!|
Thor: "Greetings from Agnafit!"
Tony Stark: "'Stockholm,' Thor. It hasn't been called 'Agnafit' since the Norse age."
This is actually correct, though I have to wonder why the Red Skull is attacking Stockholm rather than Rome or Vatican City. Each of those would deal a larger blow to the world at large, either symbolically by destroying important cultural items. Or even by destroying Paris, which has a fairly large economic presence. Basically, Red Skull's targets suck.
And let’s talk about Tony’s new “armor” for a second.
First of all, I glossed over the explanation earlier, but he says that he basically mapped out the armor’s physical control systems to the building control systems. His pinky moves robot arms, something unmentionable controls the ventilation, et cetera. So shouldn’t this mean that all the building controls are mapped to his slightest movements? Like, could an errant blink activate the fire alarm? Would an accidental burp turn off all the lights? Seems to me like a lot could go wrong; Tony only had about a minute to wire himself into the building.
Second of all, he’s defending New York with the Avengers Tower arsenal. And by that, I’m referring to the laser gun turrets popping out of the sides of the building. So… Tony has a permit for those, right? I did my best to look up whether or not these turrets are legal, but the internet is a bit scarce on information regarding weaponized buildings. Especially one armed with lasers. On the other hand, at the time of this writing, lasers are still not technically considered firearms, seeing as how laser weaponry is experimental at best and sci-fi at worst. So maybe Tony’s just exploiting a loophole.
Finally, we get to see Tony using control over the building’s systems to destroy the oncoming robot hordes. How, you ask?
Fruit Ninja. He’s swiping over icons that pop up like he was playing Fruit Ninja.
|I could not possibly be making this up.|
After Tony gives a short speech about teamwork, the Red Skull make an announcement across the world. Long story short, he's calling himself the "Cosmic Skull" and wants the world to surrender to his rule. Thor attacks the Red Skull in
They fight robots all over the world for a bit, delivering the occasional blow to the Red Skull when he shows up in any location. The Avengers notice that the Skull's getting a bit unhinged. Like, more so than usual. In fact, his new plan is to simply raze the world and start civilization over.
Things start looking worse for our heroes as Red Skull blinds Hawkeye with a burst of light, rips off Falcon's wings, teleports Thor's hammer away, even breaks Captain America's shield into a triangular fragment, and floods the Hulk's mind with unstoppable rage.
|Hawkeye goes blind? Welcome to every alternate Marvel Universe ever.|
Captain America: "This kind of thing happens way too often."
Let's see, "Ghost of a Chance," "Blood Feud," "Crime and Circuses"....
Cap radios Tony for a plan, but all he can suggest is to take down the Hulk. Somehow. And with no other option, Tony sends a message to his guests.
Tony Stark: "This is what the end of everything looks like. Nice job. But this is your chance to stop it. Help save the world. Or be destroyed with the rest of us. Your choice."
And with that, he unleashes the Cabal as the Hulk kicks the other Avengers' butts.
Captain America: "Tony, tell me you're not that stupid."
Hyperion: "Oh, he most certainly is."
The Cabal teleports away in a puff of vampire smoke as the Red Skull gets bored. He decides to just end the Avengers once and for all, but something stops him. Something that looks a lot like the Cabal. As they distract Red Skull in the air, the Avengers keep trying to subdue the Hulk. And with a little coaching from Tony, they succeed at clearing his head. With a Hulk on their side, the tide turns against the Red Skull, who teleports away like every other Final Fantasy Tactics boss.
In no time, the blind archer takes the shot, keeping Red Skull from running away again while Cap leaps up and knocks him to the ground with his broken shield.
Captain America: "What, you think that's the first triangular shield I've ever had?"
Heh. Continuity. Nice.
Once Red Skull hits the ground, the strongest superhumans in the area hold him down so the next part of the plan can begin.
|"Cap! Get over here and tickle him already!"|
Red Skull rants and raves a bit more before his armor suddenly flies off, taking the Tesseract with it, thanks to the team-up of MODOK and Tony Stark. Tony reclaims his old armor, which loses the HYDRA paint job between shots, and suits up.
They reveal that the plan was to make the Red Skull focus so hard on destroying the Avengers that he wouldn't even notice MODOK technopathically taking control of his stolen armor. But the Red Skull still has the Tesseract and is still more than willing to use it.
|My God, he's wielding the power of Glinda, the Good Witch of the South!|
The portals close behind the Red Skull, and the Cabal and Avengers have to decide what to do next.
MODOK: "As new leader of the Cabal, I say the Avengers will be destroyed.... Another day."
And as the Cabal teleports away, the Avengers return to the tower, exhausted. Too exhausted to care that Hawkeye's sight is back. There's a whole speech from Cap about how great Tony Stark is which mostly just lists all the things he did these past couple episodes, and Tony follows it up with another line about how great the Avengers are.
I mean, yeah, I get that the Avengers just triumphed over an omnipotent Nazi, but they just keep going on and on about how great the Avengers are, and it just comes of as self-congratulatory, mutually-masturbatory back-patting. With just a dash of spelled-out morals for the kiddies.
|"Dear Princess Celestia, Friendship is a wondrous and powerful thing. |
Even the worst of enemies can become friends.
You need understanding and compromise. You've got to share. You've got to care."
|"Seriously, though, Tony, did you learn a damn thing?"|
"I learned that any problem can be solved with the right suit of armor."
"Good enough. Now fix my shield."
As it turns out, she's over on the Tri-Carrier with Nick Fury, preparing for the future.
Black Widow: "The Skull is in one of those dimensions, Director Fury. And so is the Tesseract. Let's hope we find him first, before someone worse does."
But it's too late. Far away from Earth in the vast regions of space, the Red Skull has presented the Tesseract to a shadowy figure.
Red Skull: "As you desired... Thanos."
|Because this show hasn't ripped of the Marvel Cinematic Universe enough, right?|
In short... it's problematic. In long... well, let's review.