Monday, May 19, 2014

Recap: Avengers Assemble "The Avengers Protocol: Part 1"

Ah, my love/hate relationship with Avengers Assemble.

On the one hand, it manages to be pretty good when it hits its stride. On the other hand, my favorite Avengers show of all time was cancelled to make room for this often-mediocre blandness. Still, one of the things I always try to be is fair. Everything is given equal opportunity to impress me, or not. At the end of the day, the NewtCave is a place where I like to think everyone is free to share an opinion. If you disagree with me, that's absolutely fine. Hence, this pic I keep posting before I say something that will probably be controversial.

And yet, I don't have a favorite pony.
So let's begin with the first episode of Avengers Assemble... in a bit. First, there's background info to cover.

Avengers Assemble is a semi-sequel show to the Avengers film. This show ignores every film that came after The Avengers, because those films hadn't been made yet. As such, while Tony Stark is identical to his film portrayal, for example, the Falcon is completely different. There are more goofy comic book tropes at play, too. Atlantis, aliens, magic, etc. Also, Bruce Banner doesn't appear. Just the Hulk. I don't know either.

Much assembly required.

So, in this show, after the Avengers disbanded at the end of the film, Tony Stark did not rush off to fight blinged-out Gandhi, but still resides in Avengers Tower. Creepily, he's using what appear to be A-Bomb's cameras to spy on his pals. Thor is fighting Frost Giants, Hulk is smashing what seems to be the Abomination, and Hawkeye's shooting a Forbes cover with Tony's face on it taped to a bullseye.

Tony makes off handed comments about betting with himself on the outcomes, and his AI computer JARVIS tells him that if he followed through on these bets, he'd owe himself 15 billion dollars. The thing is, the number that JARVIS shows as he says this is 15,000,000 aka 15 million. This does not bode well for the attention to detail in this series. Mayhaps this is thanks to the same animators who used Arabic numerals as "alien-jerk language"?

JARVIS suggests that Tony go talk to his old pals, instead of spying on them, but it seems that Captain America could use a hand taking out the Red Skull (who apparently somehow survived being both over 90 years old as well as being apparently dead at the end of his film; like I said, "semi-sequel"). Tony suits up as Iron Man and flies off to help.

But right as Iron Man gets to the scene, Red Skull whips out a couple of lasers and vaporizes the good Captain in a blast of energy. Yeah, I'm not fooled, either. Ten bucks says teleportation.

After the intro, Red Skull takes Cap's shield for his own, Iron Man lets out a hearty NOOOOOOOOOOO, and he attacks. HYDRA goons leap into action to defend the Red Skull (why is it that these Avengers shows always begin with Iron Man fighting HYDRA goons?), and Iron Man notes that HYDRA's technology's too advanced. (Seriously, this is just reminding me of the premiere of EMH). Said tech knocks Iron Man out of the sky, and Red Skull gives a speech about sacrifice, and leading, and stuff that will be echoed later.

Suddenly, MODOK, a big-headed guy on a hoverchair, appears and uses his technopathic abilities to take control of Iron Man's armor. He disables it and teleports away with the Red Skull while they've got the upper hand.

"Can I touch it?"
Iron Man: "JARVIS, activate the Avengers Protocol."

Meanwhile, Hawkeye has just taken out the Frightful Four, in a cameo appearance from Ultimate Spider-Man, and gets the message from a camera-sphere, as do the others. For some reason, one also finds this S.H.I.E.LD. agent named Sam Wilson, being yelled at by Nick Fury for stopping and listening to Stark's camera in the middle of jumping-off-a-building-training. He excuses himself and runs to Avengers Tower. JARVIS greets him, and offers him the War Machine armor.

Uh... What, because he's black? Did you think he was James Rhodes? JARVIS, do all black people look alike to you? In all seriousness, this gag becomes slightly uncomfortable when you realize that literally the only similarity between Sam and Rhodey is the color of their skin.

But instead of the infinitely-better War Machine armor, Sam activates a gaudy, spandex flight suit. (As an aside, all film characters, locations, devices, etc. are modeled after their film incarnation. This ends up looking really silly when Falcon's comic-authentic costume is put next to Hawkeye's military-inspired getup.)   

Sam Wilson: "War Machine? I don't think so. Time to give Project Redwing its first test drive." 
JARVIS: "Arrogant and pig-headed. You'll make a fine Avenger."

What's with the gold forehead-thing? A bullet-deflector?
Meanwhile, Hawkeye, Thor, and the Hulk arrive by jet at Avengers Tower. Thor and Hulk end up fighting because Hulk thought the best way to board the jet would be to jump at it and knock it off course. This is not the Hulk from Agents of S.M.A.S.H.; this one's as dumb and angry as ever. Unfortunately for us, in this show, Thor's often the same way. Anyway, Hawkeye gets them to quit it, and they enter the tower to meet with Stark. He briefs them on the situation: Cap got taken out by MODOK and Red Skull, and they're probably up to no good. The Avengers fly off to stop whatever vague evilness the villainous villains are plotting as Black Widow (having also gotten the call) spies on them for S.H.I.E.L.D. from the roof of the building.

Over with the villains, they're in their evil base, doing ostensibly dastardly things (like Red Skull coughing in such a way that makes it clear that he's dying) when Iron Man locates their base in the Antarctic. As the Avengers fly over in their jet, Hulk dangles Hawkeye out the door over some jokes about his breath. While he dangles, Hawkeye spots a missile launcher, and alerts Thor to it. Thor and Hawkeye smash the launched missiles as best they can, but the jet ends up having to make an emergency landing when the technopathic MODOK takes control of the jet.

Iron Man: "Looks like we're gonna need someone to avenge us."

Then the jet explodes. Well, that was a short series.


Nah, they're fine. Iron Man flew free, and the others, if you're paying attention, weren't actually in the cockpit. The Avengers regroup on the ground, and Hawkeye assesses the situation.

Hawkeye: "So the plan is there is no plan. I thought he was the smart one." 

HYDRA goons emerge from the subterranean base, and they fight the Avengers. Unfortunately, the Avengers get into a fight over who the leader is, and Hulk throws Hawkeye a hundred yards away into a squad of HYDRA goons.

Hawkeye: "...I'm not with them."

Black Widow shows up in her flying car (disregard my comments on what I thought was a non-flying car in "Hyperion"), and just watches. Iron Man gets knocked out of the sky next to Hawkeye, and MODOK emerges to the surface and is only stopped from taking over Iron Man's armor by the timely arrival of what must be a very cold Black Widow. And her flashbombs.

Everybody thinking "I wouldn't mind getting blinded by her flashbombs, if you know what I mean," go sit in the corner.
Black Widow: "I just wanted to make sure you needed me before I accepted your invite."

I swear, if they turn her into another Agents-of-S.M.A.S.H.-She-Hulkish "girl power" whatever, I'm throwing my drink at the TV. Don't worry, it's an empty can. The TV'll be fine.

At the Red Skull's orders, MODOK and the goons teleport back into the base. Black Widow and the Avengers join up, and they decide that maybe working as a team might, you know, work.

At Widow's suggestion, Iron Man scans the base for signs of super-soldier blood (which both Captain America and the Red Skull have), and he finds two separate signs, suggesting that Cap's been taken hostage. He flies right into the base, and the Avengers follow, before the turret defenses stop them. Iron Man flies through the base until he comes across the source of the signs, and takes out MODOK. He seems to have been doing some kind of SCIENCE to Red Skull and a restrained Captain America. If I had to guess, I'd say it was life-force draining, or some such.

Tony frees Captain America, but... cue Admiral Ackbar!

Dang it, Ackbar. You have one job!
Yep, Captain America's body has been taken over by the Red Skull.

Cap Skull: "Zis body iss mein!"

Cap Skull wipes the floor with Iron Man, monologuing the whole time about how MODOK helped him switch minds (and apparently voices) with Cap. Speaking of him, he knocks Cap Skull away from Iron Man before getting zapped with a laser, and is apparently dying.

So evil, his eyes are spontaneously glowing. Well, he is a Nazi.
Tony makes a call back to Red Skull's earlier speech about sacrifice, and unleashes all his power to create an EMP. This successfully knocks out MODOK, the HYDRA weapons, and Iron Man's own armor.

Suddenly, Sam Wilson finally arrives as the Falcon, knocking out the Red Skull in one hit. He gets back up, but the rest of the Avengers arrive, as well. Along with all of HYDRA. Tony reactivates his armor, we get a lame rehash of the group shot from the film, and they begin the big fight scene. Cap vs. Skull, the others vs. everyone else.

Thanks to a bit of teamwork, Cap Skull gets taken out, Falcon fixes the mindswapper, and the correct minds get put in the correct bodies once again.

The Avengers get to deliver a lesson on how teamwork is the bestest thing ever. Unfortunately, Red Skull actually decides to learn this lesson. MODOK reactivates himself, and disassembles Tony's armor (including the arc reactor in his chest) and reassembles it around the newly-christened "Iron Skull." Wow, took you all of three seconds to come up with that one, huh?

Then they teleport away, leaving the Avengers behind and Tony for dead, which he appears to be doing.

Tony Stark: "Remember how far I went to pull your butt out of the fire? Your turn."

No, I'm not buying this one either, and it's not just because he appears very much alive in later episodes.

To be continued.


  1. Okay so from what can tell the show order goes Ultimate spider-man - Avengers Assemble - Than agents of poorly written plots and flat characters. You can tell by how stupid hulk is the time, progressively getting less stupid, though not by much

    Ah Falcon your such a terrible character always put on a team if they need a young audience surrogate or a black dude if Panther is unavailable. He could use a solo mini to give him some actual characterization for future writers to build upon.

    And in just an episode or too villain decay kicks in and Skull and M.O.D.O.K become as effective as team rocket

    1. Not entirely sure about that show order, what with the Ultimate Spider-Man episode where Hulk gets HatAoS-level intelligence, but I agree with the idea you posit. I may have to come up with a unit of measurement for the Hulk's stupidity.

      As for Red Skull and MODOK, I thoguht the Cabal ended up being somewhat impressive towards the end, until the episode "Exodus."

  2. Actually, the War Machine reference was a nod to Bumper Robinson, Falcon's voice actor, having previously portrayed Rhodey on EMH.

    - That One Anon

    1. That deserves a No-Prize, my anonymous friend.

  3. Should I even question why and how does Iron Skull works without helmet?

    1. Well, there's a simple answer: it works very well.

      But now that you mention it, where was Red Skull keeping the helmet all season so that Tony could just reclaim it with the rest of his armor in the finale?