Monday, September 28, 2015

Recap: Avengers: EMH "Panther's Quest"

In today's Avengers: EMH Recap, we get generic African tribal stereotypes, African "noble savage" stereotypes, and African "savage brute" stereotypes. Among other stereotypes.

Oh. Joy.

And yes, the stereotypes all come straight from the 1960's source material.

And to think that people were wondering why I hadn't been covering this show for a while.
The episode opens with Captain America, Ant-Man, Wasp, and Iron Man going over the security footage of the events from a couple episodes back. In no time, they find the footage of a mysterious figure saving Cap's life.

Wasp: "What am I looking for, again? A giant cat?"
Captain America: "It was a man."

Cap requests that the "projectionist" make the picture "brighter," so Tony responds by having JARVIS run a full-spectrum analysis of the image as well as enhance the clarity.

Iron Man: "And... make it brighter."

What they find is interesting. Not only is a grown man wearing cat Janimals, but said Janimals apparently absorb ambient energy, according to some of Tony's scans.

Ant-Man: "Whatever he's wearing is absorbent to all energy spectra."

I'd nitpick about how "all energy spectra" includes light, meaning that he would just be visible as a humanoid shadow... but, uh, yeah. That's kind of exactly the case.

Cap insists that whoever this stranger might be, he's a good person who saved his life. Which means that the situation is ripe for an ironic juxtaposition, which we get when the Avengers hear an intruder alert before rushing outside to find this mysterious man in black lunging at them from the mansion gateway.

Captain America: "So he's... not an Avenger."
Iron Man: "Definitely not."

The stranger's claws tear through Tony's armor like it was a tin can, and Wasp's energy stings have no effect. He dodges Captain America's mighty shield easily and even uses sound waves to shrug off Ant-Man's swarms. Ant-Man recognizes the vibrations as being vibranium-induced (no doubt because he'sone of the few white people to have worked with the substance), and grows into his giant form.

Now, a common criticism of Henry Pym is the fact that he has two forms, Giant-Man and Ant-Man. Common perception is that Giant-Man is overpowered while Ant-Man is useless. Thor even remarked about how useless shrinking seemed to be in an earlier episode.

I bring this up because this is the episode that really starts to nerf Giant-Man. He tries to use his trick of just cupping the bad guy in his hands and keeping him there, but the stranger gets free and uses martial arts to attack each of Giant-Man's giant-size pressure points in turn, knocking him down. Presumably, they were easier targets than his...

Actually, it kind of makes you wonder why the other villains don't just fight dirty and aim between his gigantic legs.

Seriously, Ant-Man. Get your head in the game and swat him.
Anyway, Iron Man decides to get pragmatic and simply aims a micro missile at the guy's head.

Stranger: "Enough!"

Captain America is suitably confused by this. First, the guy saves him, then he attacks the Avengers, then he just up and surrenders? Suspicious, to say the least.

Stranger: "I am not surrendering, Captain. I have simply seen... enough."

He tells them that he simply wanted to test the Avengers' strength mano-a-mano before unmasking and introducing himself as T'Challa, voiced by James C. Mathis III, a name that Ant-Man recognizes as belonging to the prince of Wakanda. T'Challa, not James C. Mathis.

"Thanks for not hitting me in the crotch, Your Highness."
T'Challa: "I need your help."

Once inside, Wasp points out something that the audience was probably thinking. Why does T'Challa need the help of four people he just mopped the floor with?

T'Challa quickly explains the events of his Micro-Episode, where M'Baku the Man-Ape (Kevin Michael Richardson) overthrew the throne. He goes on to explain that he needs their help to get back into Wakanda so he can reclaim it.

Captain America: "If your people are following this 'Man-Ape' of their own free will, that's the end of the story."

So... you don't want to get involved with the internal politics of another country in order to create a regime more aligned with your own interests?

And you call yourself Captain America?
I kid, but actually, that raises a good point. It makes you wonder what Cap would do if he found out about some of the shadier things the United States has done since the second World War.

As it is, he's adamant that if Man-Ape is the ruler the people want, then that's the way it should be.

T'Challa: "The people are the problem."

Yeah, well, that's just generally true, isn't it? People are the worst.

T'Challa explains that his people are set in the "old ways." Man-Ape took his title by the rite of combat, and the people don't feel like they have any right to oppose the law. He claims that Man-Ape will literally destroy everything, which Wasp asks him to clarify.

Luckily, Ant-Man is still on hand to talk about his experiences with Wakanda's most valuable natural resource, Vibranium. Ant-Man says that Vibranium should be shared with the world because of its limitless energy potential, but T'Challa tells him that that's exactly why Wakanda has kept it hidden for so long. He also casts a look at Tony.

Iron Man: "Uh, yeah. Stark Industries investigated the possibility of using vibranium to make weapons."

Because of course he did.

Tony insists that he's changed his tune since then and asks about the King he had been in talks with, T'Chaka. T'Challa doesn't answer.

Luckily, there was a movie that could sum it up.
Cap, having heard enough, decides that if so many lives are in danger, then they have to do something.

T'Challa, plugging a small chip into the computer to get nigh-unobtainable satellite footage of Wakanda, shows them the scale of the vibranium mining operation that has been going on under Man-Ape's rule. And who's been overseeing it.

Captain America: "HYDRA."

Iron Man recognizes Grim Reaper in the footage, and Ant-Man recognizes the Abe Lincoln lookalike as Ulysses Klaw, whose claim to fame is his sonic weapon powered by vibranium.

Wasp: "So, who's up for invading Wakanda?"

And so, they all head off in the Quinjet, despite the fact that Google Maps tells me they can be in Wakanda within four hours.

They'll be roasting Stay-Puft Marshmallows in no time!
Thor's absence is finally commented on when Iron Man says that he's not responding to his ID card's activation.

Wasp: "So we need to go through Torment Forest, past Piranha Cove, but we have to avoid the Chasm of... what was it? Icy clouds?"
T'Challa: "Chilling Mists."
Wasp: "Right."

This country has such a rich culture!

But Cap's a little antsy, which gets Hank's attention. No pun intended, I swear.

Captain America: "In my day, when something went this high, we didn't call it an airplane."
Ant-Man: "What did you call it?"
Captain America: "Science fiction."

But Iron Man, convinced of his own brilliance, deviates from the flight course T'Challa laid out for them and right into the path of Wakanda's laser grid. The lasers rip right through the hull, and the jet crashes into the jungle. Luckily, no one was harmed.

T'Challa: "You chose not to listen to me, Stark. It was a mistake."

After Wasp gets him back on track, Iron Man lays out the plan. Defeat HYDRA, protect the vibranium, and then dethrone Man-Ape.

T'Challa goes off to get a head start on dethroning Man-Ape... which makes me realize that he only brought the Avengers along because they would distract HYDRA. Earth's mightiest heroes... are the decoys in this plan. Iron Man sends Cap after T'Challa, and the rest of them start getting attacked by the Wakandan tribesmen. They may only have spears, but they're vibranium spears.

Over with all the villains, they're having themselves a pow-wow as Klaw demonstrates how easily his vibranium weapon can destroy priceless Wakandan thrones.

Grim Reaper: "It'll do."

"I mean, I've seen better unstoppable super-weapons."
But when Reaper thanks Man-Ape for his hospitality, Man-Ape is actually pretty angry. You see, Man-Ape knows full well that HYDRA values the vibranium far more than the gold they traded to Man-Ape for it.

Man-Ape: "The vibranium has corrupted Wakanda! Weakened it! I will restore my land to its natural state without the Panther tribe's technology! If HYDRA will pay my price, they are welcome to it."

I don't... what?

You were working with these guys to overthrow the King of Wakanda in exchange for vibranium, which Wakanda 99.99% of the time does not give to outsiders. And now that you're king, you're disgusted by your land vibranium-technology and want to return Wakanda to its natural state... when its "natural state" is full of vibranium?

And you're mad about the outsiders offering you gold for the valuable vibranium when you don't even want the vibranium?

What exactly is your motivation again?
Whatever his motivation may be, Klaw wants a cut of whatever deal's going on between HYDRA and Man-Ape. After all, they won't be able to get the vibranium to do anything useful without Klaw's technology and expertise. But before this encounter can end with three dead bodies and a lot of blood, a village elder comes along to tell Man-Ape about the plane they just shot down and the outsiders running around.

Over with Cap, he's barely managing to catch up with T'Challa, but still insisting that since he came to the Avengers for help, then just maybe he should let them help. T'Challa continues to insist that he must walk this path alone, but Cap counters by saying that he owes T'Challa his life. T'Challa finally opens up to Cap, saying that Man-Ape killed his father, M'Baku, and he's been blaming himself ever since.

T'Challa: "Please... let me do this."

Over with the Avengers, they've just slaughtered their way through a bunch of African tribesmen. Yeah, we'll be having a nice little discussion about racism and stereotypes in the Review portion.

I'm... very uncomfortable right now.
Ant-Man examines one of their broken spears and takes a look at the circuitry inside, remarking that their technology is far in advance of anything they have.

Circuitry. In a spear. Fine, why not.
Let's skip over the fact that he's saying a spear is more advanced than an iPhone, and cut to the village elder telling M'Baku that since their forest warriors haven't been seen in a while, it might be for the best to kick all the outsiders out of Wakanda. He mentions the Black Panther, earning M'Baku's rage as he declares that the Black Panther is no more. So of course, that's when T'Challa shows up to take the throne back.

Elder: "A challenge has been issued! By tribal law, you must...."
M'Baku: "I have no use for tradition."

"What a moyshe kapoyer."
I would remind you that this sentiment is being expressed by the man who outright stated he would return Wakanda to “the old ways.” No, seriously, Man-Ape, what the Hell is your motivation?

Either way, this is a classic dictator plan.
Step 1: Get elected.
Step 2: No more elections.

So instead, M'Baku sends his hot, female guards after T'Challa.

Over with the HYDRA mining operation, the Avengers have shown up to fight the Grim Reaper while Klaw yells at them about how dangerous fighting in a vibranium mine is. Right before Ant-Man covers him head to toe in African army ants. But as the fighting continues, pink energy starts to crackle through the vibranium mound. And as we all know, too much pink energy is dangerous.

Klaw remind Pym of the fact that if the mound absorbs too much pink energy, it'll blow the heck up in a blast large enough to turn "half of Africa" into a crater. But a stray blast from a HYDRA goon sends the vibranium mound over the edge, Speaking of "over the edge,' Grim Reaper has had enough of Klaw and shoots at his balcony, sending him toppling onto the vibranium, whereupon the vibranium's energy is dissipated by vaporizing Klaw. But this sort of thing always leads to accidental superpowers, so Klaw emerges as a giant humanoid made of sound with his sonic device as a heart. He starts attacking everyone, HYDRA and avengers alike. Grim Reaper peaces out homeskillet in the confusion, leaving the Avengers with no plan against this new supervillain.

Meanwhile, T'Challa gets his butt kicked and is held at spearpoint. "Thankfully," the only minority superhero on this show is saved by the white guy named "Captain America."

Captain America: "You can face Man-Ape alone. Anyone else is fair game."

Man-Ape agrees and tells his guards to attack the outsider while Klaw grows bigger and more powerful with every blow. Man-Ape and T'Challa have a fight as well, where T'Challa's vibranium weapons give him a distinct advantage, turning the fight into a curbstomp. That is, until Man-Ape once again uses the sonic burst he used to cheat against T'Chaka, turning the tide.

Run! He's got a Beyblade!
But the fight against Klaw starts to spill out of the mountain housing the vibranium mound, giving T'Challa an opportunity to overcome the pain through sheer force of will and knock Man-Ape straight to the ground. Speaking of Klaw, Ant-Man states the obvious and notes that Klaw is now living sound, they can probably use the vibranium to stop the sonic emitter powering him.

Hit the glowing weak spot, like any NES game. Got it.
Over with T'Challa, the people of Wakanda come out to recognize him claim to the throne as he gives a speech about how evil Man-Ape was.

Back with Klaw, Wasp keeps him busy for a bit, but he ends up phasing through the mountain and starts sonicking the people of vibranium while Ant-Man and Iron Man make a box out of vibranium. Iron Man flies through Klaw's body and contains the emitter, saving the day.

The Avengers regroup with T'Challa, just as the elder from earlier comes forth to talk about how great it will be to get rid of these outsiders and return to the old ways.

T'Challa: "Outsiders may have threatened Wakanda, but outsiders saved us, as well. The old ways allowed Man-Ape to do this. And the old ways must change."

Oh, yeah, the "old ways" which forbid outsiders into Wakanda allowed Man-Ape to bring outsiders into Wakanda. You know, those “traditions” Man-Ape outright stated he had no use for.

T'Challa's first decree is to declare that Wakanda will be led by a council of the people instead of a king in a little speech about how Wakanda needs to be a part of the world.

Look at this poor guy. He simply cannot comprehend this whole "democracy" thing.
T'Challa also declares that he'll be joining the Avengers.

Iron Man: "Why should we trust you?"
T'Challa: "You shouldn't. I will earn your trust."

Maybe you should earn their trust before you join the team. Just saying, that policy's just waiting for a traitor to come along.

Wasp points out that T'Challa's pretty much their best bet for a ride home, and Iron Man welcomes him aboard.

But somewhere in Nevada, a S.H.I.E.L.D. team approaches the prison for Gamma-mutates known as "the Cube" for the first time since the mass breakout. It does not go well.

Run, Master Chief!
Not only does one of them get grabbed by the Abomination, but a mysterious green energy shoots out the top of the Cube and forms a green dome around the area....

And so, with the fate of some S.H.I.E.L.D. troopers remaining unknown, let's review


  1. I do wonder if there are any other shows you avoid covering for similar reasons.... *glares at Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.*

    - Faceless Enigma

    1. Actually, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was something I simply never got around to recapping in my usual way after the Critical Cablebox stopped blogging. (I originally did guest posts at his blog.)

      Although, I've been meaning to get back around to it eventually. I guess I'll kind of have to, if I eventually want to get to Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and such in my MCU coverage.

    2. I suspected something like that. I just asked cause...well, lets just say I wouldn't want to talk about "Yes Men" if I had I blog where I write mostly to amuse and educate by recapping cartoons.

      - F.E.