Thursday, July 10, 2014

Recap: Avengers: EMH "Meet Captain America"

What's this? July is nearly upon... well, shoot. Usually I just copy and paste the intro from one of the Micro-Episode Recaps, but it's actually July now. Shoot.

Oh, well. Let's do this anyway.
Our episode opens up in the future.


Sorry, I had to take a second there. When you've seen enough media featuring Captain America, you start expecting them to open up with a flashback to the past. Having this actually start up in the future is a bit of a mental gear shift.

Anyway, it's the future, and this blue-faced, green/purple-clad guy is in his crystal room, telling his computer to play an old newsreel from World War II. That's more like it. The newsreel starts off with your typical "Nazis have their slimy hands on Europe, but our good ol' Yankee troops are givin' 'em what for!" spiel, but there are a few things to point out. Actually, one major thing. For all intents and purposes, the only branch of the Nazis shown in this newsreel/episode is their weapons development branch. Also known as HYDRA.

To make a long story short, the censorship guys told the writers that they could have either realistic weapons or Nazis in their cartoon, but not both. The writers chose to go with guns, and so Nazis are never mentioned in regards to World War II. Not even a token mention of Hitler. This basically leaves one with the impression that this universe has no Nazi Party, and that Germany was ruled over by HYDRA instead, no doubt replacing their leader up to that point, Adenoid Hynkel.

Anyway, the newsreel continues with the story of Steve Rogers, the 5-foot-scrawny, 90-pound weakling who wanted to sock ol' Adolf in the jaw. I mean, Red Skull. So they pumped him full of experimental drugs, and he became the 6-foot-muscle, 250-pound Captain America! We then transition to a landing boat on its way to the war-ravaged shores. A quick zoom on a patch lets us know that these boys are none other than the Howlin' Commandos. They infiltrate the beach as quietly as they can, and scout out their destination: an evil-looking castle. As they make their way, HYDRA goons open fire with their evil weapons of SCIENCE. Their leader, Jack Fury, knows that they won't last long, so he tells one of his guys to get the radio working.

Howlett: "I'm workin' on it, bub!"

Hello, Wolverine cameo! Luckily, the troops are rescued by the Timely arrival of Captain America. I apologize for that pun. I know only, like, five of you will get it, but I'm sorry for it anyway.

I am vengeance. I am the night.
He gives a rousing little speech about infiltrating the HYDRA science base, and meeting up with their inside man. Having been roused, the troops make their way to their destination. Meanwhile, a very young Baron von Strucker reports to the Red Skull that ze alliez are here. Skull tells Strucker to send out their best men to slow them down until they can ready their evil Nazi SCIENCE! Sorry, HYDRA SCIENCE!

Jack Fury blows his bugle to announce the charge, and if anybody can tell me why that isn't a stupid idea that gives away your position, please leave a comment. In all seriousness, I'd really like to know. Despite this, the Howlin' Commandos do their job well. Not even the HYDRA lasers can break through Cap's shield, and not even HYDRA jaws can withstand Fury's fists. But a grenade goes off, knocking Fury down. Before a HYDRA goon can aim and fire at the good Captain, the drawbridge comes down to let Cap in. And with it, Captain America's sidekick, Bucky, arrives on the scene. This seems to be a good omen. All the commandos are fine, even Fury, and Bucky knows a way down into the evil basement of SCIENCE.

Captain America: "The stealth portion of this mission is officially over."

"Stealth." So you were stealthily blowing that bugle, Fury? Anyway, they make their way inside, coming face to face with a cyclops.

Absolutely wrong.
Cap and Bucky seem to agree with me that a cyclops doesn't belong in WWII.

Bucky: "Okay, we've seen some weird stuff in this war. But what... is that?"
Captain America: "I don't know. One of Zola's experiments, maybe. But whatever it is, it's angry!"

So they trick the cyclops into smashing the drawbridge, sending it to its doom and delve deeper into the castle. In another room they come across some HYDRA weaponry. Smart bombs, nerve gas, biological weapons, things shrunken in jars, the usual mad science. Cap vows to end the Red Skull here and now, and they keep going. In another room, they come across what appears to be the Bridge of Khazad-dûm overlooking a magical menagerie. Giant wolves, trolls, faeries, another cyclops, they're all contained in gigantic bell jars.

Red Skull gives an evil chuckle and invites Cap down to watch some history unfold. HYDRA goons with guns arrive to seal the deal. Cap gets his shield taken away and surrenders so as not to endanger Bucky with a needless fight.

"Way to go, Boy Hostage. When we get back to the states, I'm going to see if Batman has an extra Robin I can borrow."
Cap asks Red Skull if he's still doing Baron Zemo's dirty work (making me scratch my head over which one is the "Hitler" in this hierarchy), and Skull proclaims that he's going to steal "supernaturally powerful beings" from a realm described in Norse mythology. So, cyclopes really aren't a part of Norse mythology, as far as I know. Maybe they took the wrong turn at Muspelheim and hit Mount Olympus instead?

Red Skull: "All myths have some basis in truth."

All myths? Okay, I do not want to know the "truth" behind Priapus. And neither do you, so stop Googling it.

Red Skull explains that this castle is built over the remains of a bridge to a realm of powerful beings. At one time, the bridge was called "Bifrost." You may know it better as "the rainbow bridge to Asgard." Okay, I want to see the alternate reality where Thor became a Nazi. Then I want to see him fight Communist Superman.

Thanks to electroshock collars, the mythological beasts are under the Skull's control. But enough explanation, the unnamed HYDRA scientist (I'm going to call him "von Blitzschlag") opens a portal with massive amounts of electricity, and teleports a "specimen" over. But before what appears to be a Frost Giant can be fully teleported, Cap and Bucky use the distraction to take out the HYDRA guards and get back Cap's shield. The SCIENCE is damaged in the ensuing fight, which frees all the monsters.


As the beasts attack everyone in sight, Cap and Bucky manage to hold them off. The HYDRA goons aren't so lucky, though. As the fighting continues, Cap orders Bucky to close the portal before the Frost Giant can break through. After some one-sided swordplay with von Strucker, von Strucker gets taken out when he stabs some electrical equipment. Nazi science sneers at health and safety! Sorry, HYDRA science.
Thinking quickly, Cap sends a few monsters back through the portal with an impromptu flamethrower. But before a wolf escapes the flames to maul him, the utterly massive Frost Giant grabs it and stands up from the portal.

"Hey, everybody just chill."
Not in the mood to fight a fifty-foot-tall iceman, Cap gives the signal to Bucky, who slices the power to the Asgardian fragment powering the machine. Then the place starts exploding as Red Skull vows revenge.

Bucky suggests that this might be a good time to leave, but Cap is adamant that this ends now. They both take off after the Red Skull, who enters his escape rocket.

Captain America: "Bucky, stay here! Secure the fortress!"

What, the exploding one? I think the rocket's a safer bet, Cap. So does Bucky, because he follows Cap into hitching a ride on the outside of the rocket.

Bucky: "I've got your back, Cap!"
Captain America: "Bucky! I told you to..."
Bucky: "Yeah, I know! But we're partners, right?!"
Captain America: "...let's finish this."

"C'mon, civilian! Let's go beat up a war criminal!"
But as they climb up to the cockpit and apprehend the Red Skull, he sets the self-destruct and hits the eject button. So now Cap and Bucky are on a missile. With less than thirty seconds to go, Bucky gets his leg stuck to the ladder.

Bucky: "Sorry, Cap!"
Captain America: "Stow that talk; we'll make it!"
Bucky: "No, I mean... sorry the world needs Captain America more than Bucky!"

With his other leg, he kicks Captain America off the missile. With one last salute to his idol, the missile explodes, and the shockwave sends Cap down into the Kirby Dot-filled ocean, with ice slowly forming over his shield as he sinks to the bottom. We cut to the future guy from earlier finishing up his newsreel, which ends with a salute to the fallen Captain America.

Anouncer: "Farewell, Captain America, wherever you are!"
Future Guy: "No. Not 'where.' 'When.'"

Again, it's time for the protagonist to shift to the oddly-dressed future guy! I'll make this simple for you; his name is Kang.
Select your own punchline.
We see Cap defeat the cyclops again, but this time, Kang floats nearby, watching events unfold. Bucky barely notices the flash as he timewarps away to watch the castle crumble. He then warps ahead to the fateful rocket launch and watches it from his magnificent flying throne.

Metron called, he wants his chair back.
He watches as Cap slowly sinks into the ocean. Using manual control, he speeds up time to see if Cap ever left the ocean. Nothing. But before he can do anything further, his computer tells him that there's some bad mojo back in his hometime. Reluctantly, he returns to his spaceship, the Damocles. As he sits in his Fortress of Solitude crystal chamber, his computer informs him that time is rewriting itself. The world is being replaced with a barren wasteland, and the stars are probably going out.

He thinks out loud, blaming Captain America. Apparently, all the chrono-clues point to him.

Kang: "But I saw you meet your end in the 20th century! How can you be responsible, unless..."

Getting an idea, he checks the 21st century.

Kang: "Of course. I did not conquer the Earth just to see it wiped from existence. Damocles, prepare the fleet for timejump!"



So, Kang the Conqueror. The Earth's future is either complete annihilation, or a global dictatorship. Lesser of two evils, I guess. As his fleet gets ready to go back in time, there's a timewave.. thingy that wipes out much of his crew, and nearly his wife, Princess Ravonna. He arrives in the 21st century as his wife flickers between existence and nonexistence in his arms.

Kang: "I'll save our entire timeline. Even if I have to conquer this timeline to do it."

But... if you conquer the past, you're not going to be able to ensure that the future is exactly how you remember it, unless you  already did that in your timeline, but then where are those timeshifts coming from and....

It's either this or a migraine. I choose this.
And so it ends. For now. Now let's review this star-spangled episode.

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