Monday, March 30, 2015

Recap: Avengers: EMH "Some Assembly Required"

And so, unfortunately, it’s time to bring Hulk Month to its inevitable close.

I'm sad, too.
But I feel like we’ve had some great times this month. Making fun of one of the most ambitious Marvel films ever, making Fight Club jokes, and finding out just why the heck the Hulk can articulate in Agents of S.M.A.S.H.…. But as Captain Picard said, all good things must come to an end. If you’re going to end, end on a high note. So let’s return to Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to see Hulk’s first attempt at teamwork.

Are they a team? Or are they a time bomb?
The episode begins with a C-list supervillain, the Mandrill, running with his ill-gotten booty after having just robbed a bank. A police officer steps in and points her gun at him, but ends up incapacitated because she’s a woman and let me finish my sentence that makes her susceptible to the Mandrill’s hypnotic pheromones, which only work if you have two X chomosomes. See? I’m not sexist; I just word my sentences in potentially troublesome ways.

Geez, look at all that hair. Looks like Mandrill needs to manscape.
But in all seriousness, I have to give major props to this opening. To be fair, the main reason this police officer is a woman is so they can show off the Mandrill’s powers of hypnotism and pheromones, but hey, female police officer. I’ve been watching the rather sexist Avengers Assemble for the past year or so, so I’m just happy to see a female police officer in an Avengers cartoon. Heck, I’m just happy to see a police officer in an Avengers cartoon.

Because our brave men and women in uniform are the real heroes. The more you know.
Speaking of females, Wasp is soon on the scene, ready to kick butt and take names. It’s a nice reintroduction to the character, but I’m a bit distracted by the fact that the money Mandrill stole is covered in Green Lantern symbols.

In Brightest Day, in Blackest Night, this note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.
Anyway, as Mandrill laughs at the idea of the six-inch Wasp taking him down, Iron Man walks up. Soon, Thor joins them as Giant-Man arrives on the scene, causing Mandrill to back right into the Hulk. Understandably, Mandrill surrenders.

Iron Man: “I say, ‘One down, seventy-three to go.’”

Man, they’ll have all the villains back in jail in a couple of episodes at this rate. After the theme song (My God I love hearing this theme song after weeks and weeks of the theme song-less Marvel Animated Universe. I don't care if I keep bringing it up, it keeps being true.), we cut to the docks where the Black Panther soon ends up beating the stuffing out of some dockworkers who are understandably upset that there was a stowaway on their freighter. So the first thing the Black Panther does after donning his father’s mantle is beat up some guys who, though they may be jerks, have a legitimate grievance. Our hero…?

The next day, Pepper Potts is in front of a mansion, thanking someone offscreen for being on time. The implication, of course, is that she’s talking to Tony. Hilariously, she’s talking to the Hulk. Even more hilariously, Hulk is the only Avenger who showed up on time. It’s almost enough to distract me from the fact that our villains for this episode are taking a casual stroll down the street.

Seriously, points to the animators for sneaking them in.
Thor: “Ho! Miss Potts!”

Well, that’s just rude.

Thor jovially greets the Hulk, too, who tells the Son of Asgard to get a watch. Then the Wasp arrives. Naturally, she blames Hank for being late. Thor is taken aback at the fact that Hank arrived in his Ant-Man form, because the Giant-Man form seems more useful. Welcome to about half the complaints about Ant-Man, Thor. But before Hank can list the merits of being smaller than an ant, the increasingly-impatient Hulk just wants to know where Iron Man is. Naturally, Iron Man shows up right on cue, having been a bit busy.

Iron Man: “I got caught up in a meeting. Actually, I missed that meeting, too. Anyway, thanks for coming and welcome to Avengers Mansion.”

He begins to talk about the building, but Hulk breaks down the gate and walks inside.

Iron Man: “You know, that was really rude.”

The rest of the Avengers enter as Tony explains that this was once part of the Maria Stark Foundation, but he’s upgraded it into a home base since the breakout. He explains that JARVIS, his AI butler, runs the house, then he takes him on a tour. First stop: the kitchen, where Hulk immediately starts pigging out as Wasp makes a face that she usually reserves for her boyfriend.

The old "I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed" face.
Thor tries out one of the beds as Tony takes them through the upper levels.

I guess he doesn't really like it. If he did, he'd be smashing it and yelling for another.
Wasp excitedly tries out a TV that slides out from behind a Jackson Pollock as Pepper hands out Avengers ID cards. They’ve got GPS tracking and communications capabilities so the Avengers can assemble anytime, anywhere. Pepper offers to show the Hulk how it works, but he doesn’t appreciate being talked down to and snaps at her.

Thor: “Treat the lady with respect.”

Funny, considering your first words to her this episode, Thor.

Before a fight can break out, Tony activates the secret fireplace entrance and takes the team to the secret lower levels of the mansion where all kinds of cool things are. Labs, the armory, the vehicle hangar…. Basically, it’s the Batcave. Next, he shows them the training room. Wasp is the first to test it out, and the first thing it does is fire missile at her. I’m pretty sure OSHA would have a field day if they ever found out that Tony had a room that is designed to fire missiles at its occupants.

The rest of the Avengers dodge some hazards of their own, including the Hulk who ends up smashing quite a bit of the place.

Iron Man: “It’s self-repairing, thanks for asking.”

Finally, he shows them their meeting room and gets down to brass tacks. Seventy-four villains escaped. Only Graviton and Mandrill are accounted for. They’re going to need to work together to figure this out. Hulk stands in his own corner of the room, as Banner talks to him inside his head.

Bruce: “These…. ‘Avengers.’ Once they’re done using you, they’ll lock you up, too.”
Hulk: “This was your idea.”
Bruce: “Things have changed.”

Call me crazy, but something’s not quite right.

Wasp looks over at the big guy and politely waves at him. When Hulk doesn’t return the favor, she makes faces at him and pretends to ignore him. You know, the stuff she does to Hank, only as a joke this time. I know, I know, that’s the second time this Recap I’ve made that joke. Fine, I’ll try to only bring up her relationship with Hank when it’s actually important.

But it’s just so easy to make these jokes, you know?
Back with the main conversation, Ant-Man brings up a good point. Even if they recapture all these villains, all the supervillain jails were destroyed. Tony says that a pal of his named Reed Richards is working on a prison in the Negative Zone, because that ended up working out so well in the comics. Hulk finally gets bored with all the wordtalking, and Wasp agrees.

Hulk: “At least one of you knows what they’re doing.”

But Thor can’t takes no more of the Hulk’s grumping and a fight nearly breaks out before Tony puts a stop to it.

"Gentlemen, gentlemen, save it for Hulk Vs."
That night, as the Hulk lays in bed, Banner whispers from the mirror that the Hulk has merely traded one prison for another. But the real Banner yells unheard, chained up within the Hulk’s subconscious.

Bruce: “It’s not me! Tell the other Avengers it’s not me! Hulk!”

Is anyone else getting flashbacks to the second episode of Avengers Assemble? Or flashforwards, I guess?

As Hulk leaves his room to deal with the situation, the reflection of Banner in the mirror turns into the real villain for the episode: The Enchantress. Dun dun dunnnn! Meanwhile, Hank Pym is working hard on tinkering with the head of one of his Ultron drones (which I’m sure won’t lead to anything bad happening) as Wasp flies up to talk to him.

Wasp: “You never listen to me.”

What a coincidence, you…. No, I’m going to try to restrain myself. I mean, dang it, I like the Wasp. I really do. I like the actress's performance, her cheerfulness, and her witty banter. And I like the fact that she and Hank have a relationship that has real-world problems instead of the typical solved-in-thirty-minutes TV fare. But man alive, does she rub me the wrong way sometimes. But on the other hand, I’d hate to turn every single Recap of this show into my personal whine-fest about Wasp.

But don’t worry. I’ve got an idea.

Just like when they got sick of my puns at Dungeons and Dragons, I've instituted a jar.

Every time I complain/snark about how Janet treats Hank, a quarter goes in. But if the complaining/snark goes on for a paragraph, that’s a dollar in the jar. And for every bolded sentence, that’s an extra dollar on top of whatever else that particular statement is worth.

And for extra incentive, I’m going to go all Ex Post Facto and make myself put some money in for all the times I’ve broken my new rules already. Let’s see, when you add together the Micro-Episodes/Compliations/Review, "Breakout" Part 1, Part 2 and the Review, "To Steal an Ant-Man," "Michael Korvac," and the stuff I said earlier in this Recap....

So that’s $8 into the jar already. Uh-oh.
Anyway, Janet and Hank have themselves a talk. She’s upset that Hank isn’t as excited about the Avengers as she is.

Hank: “Look, I applaud the idea, but just because Iron Man says we’re a team doesn’t make it so.”

Actually, that’s a fair point. But Janet has a good point, too. They have superpowers. And with great power, comes the need to kick supervillain butt.

Hank: “We’re five strangers. It takes time to form a team. It takes trust.”
Wasp: “I wonder where Thor slept before now. Does he even sleep?”

Oh, yeah, Hank's the one who doesn’t listen here.

Well, there’s another quarter.
Because “firemen sleep in the firehouse,” Wasp decides that she’s going to move out of her swanky penthouse and into the mansion. Meanwhile, Tony Stark has himself a meeting with Nick Fury, who says he’s offering help for the Avengers. But there’s no time for that, because the Enchantress is sneaking through the mansion, disabling JARVIS’s sensors with her magic. JARVIS informs Thor that something’s wrong, and Thor invites the passing Hulk to help him look for intruders. But “Banner” keeps whispering poison in Hulk’s ear, leading the big guy to throw the offer back in Thor’s face and quit the team. In no time flat, Pepper calls Thor up on the Jackson Pollock because JARVIS just told her what happened. She asks Thor to go get him, what with the fact that the Hulk is now loose in New York, and Thor agrees.

The Hulk causes panic by simply walking through the city before Thor flies up and tells him to come back to Avengers Mansion. Soon enough, fists are exchanged as, back at Stark Tower, Nick Fury tells Tony why he likes the idea of Avengers. Simply put, the idea of a vigilante team running around makes some people uneasy. That’s a good thing. Easier to sniff out betrayal in the upper ranks that way. So Nick Fury will help the Avengers under the table in any way he can. But Tony knows that this means owing Fury some “favors” down the line.

Nick Fury: “You take the good with the bad.”

Pepper tells Tony about the big, green problem, and Tony puts in the call.

Tony: “Avengers, assemble.”

Thor and Hulk are fighting in the park when the Wasp shows up and asks Hulk to calm down.

Wasp: “We’re not attacking you!”

Right after she says this, Thor attacks him. So, uh… nice teamwork there, guys.

Iron Man flies in to stop the Hulk, but JARVIS detects some kind of odd energy signature around the Hulk’s brain. And it’s not the usual Gamma radiation, it’s similar to the energy field surrounding Thor’s hammer. It’s magic.

Giant-Man soon arrives to get his very own smackdown from the Hulk as an all-out fight breaks out. Hulk claps the Wasp between his hands. Just as he prepares to smash, Bruce Banner musters the strength to break free of his mental chains and shake off the Hulk’s mind control. Hulk leaps away, and before you can say “Well, that went well,” Iron Man gets an axe to the chest.

Enchantress: “You’d better hope someone more capable chooses to avenge you.”

Her henchman might have the weirdest tan line I've ever seen, but the man gets results.
The Enchantress and her bodyguard, Skurge the Executioner, begin taking on the remaining Avengers themselves, having lost their green trump card. Speaking of him, he’s hiding in an alleyway listening to the real Bruce Banner in his head.

Bruce: “You have to go back.”

Bruce tells him that the Enchantress wanted to split Hulk from the Avengers. Because that was the place he could do the most good. Meanwhile, Wasp and Giant-Man rejoin the fray. But even so, the fight goes poorly. Before the Executioner can decapitate Giant-Man, Hulk returns for Round 2, breaking the Enchantress’s concentration and releasing Thor’s hammer and the Wasp from their bonds. Thor brings the thunder down, recharging Iron Man’s broken armor and tipping the odds in the heroes’ favor. Enchantress tries her mind voodoo again, but that just makes the Hulk angry. The Enchantress is soon knocked out, and the Executioner grabs her and escapes through a portal with her.

The day is saved, and Thor congratulates Hulk for the impressive amount of willpower it took to end up resisting the Enchantress. But Hulk wants none of it. He saw how willing the Avengers were to try and subdue him.

Hulk: “You’re no different from Ross and S.H.I.E.L.D. Except they’re honest about it.”

"I'm gonna go make my own team. With my cousin. And two other Hulks! Three, if something bad ever happens to Ross..."
Hulk leaps away to be on his own again, and the others return to Avengers Mansion, watched over by the Black Panther lurking in the shadows. Hulk ends up running away to the icy cold of the Arctic, where his rage shatters the surrounding icebergs. As he leaps away from a hunk of ice containing a familiar, red, white, and blue shield, the episode ends.

So, yeah. The Hulk ragequit after a single episode. Was this too sudden of a development? Was this inevitable? Let's take a look.

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