Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Recap: Avengers Assemble "The Age of Tony Stark"

Before we begin, I would like to apologize to my sister in advance. I will briefly be using the term "dinosaur" to refer to prehistoric flying reptiles. Mainly because the episode will, too. In fact, it will commit pretty much every sin that irks paleontologists.

And with that track record, I'm sure people will dig this episode up after the robot apocalypse and say "Is that what they thought killer robots would look like? And then they'll stop watching the episode in order to focus on finding food and shelter.

You know how it is with apocalypses.
The episode begins with the Avengers walking through the halls of Avengers Tower. Tony Stark is on his way to try and finally get some information out of the Red Skull, since Black Widow has spent four episodes fruitlessly interrogating him.

But since Nighthawk arrived to give this show the villain it deserves, it's more important than ever for the Avengers to find the Infinity Stones first.

Hey, random thought. How does Red Skull use the bathroom?
Tony shows the imprisoned Red Skull the footage of Thanos's exploding ship scattering the stones across the Earth as well as a certain homing signal from the scene. This triggers something in Skull's damaged mind.

Red Skull: "Time!"

And since Tony notices that "time" is one of the things scribbled on the wall, he finally pays attention to the Red Skull's graffiti. And funnily enough, he mentally scans it like Sherlock Holmes.
Makes sense.





In the shape of a glove. And Black Widow didn't put the clues together... why?
Let's ignore the fact that Red Skull wrote all these in English, since even before the encounter with Thanos, the Red Skull's mastery German, his supposed first language, seems to consist entirely of the words "Ja" and "Nein" with an occasional "Dummkopf."

But Tony manages to put the pieces together and the Avengers are soon en route to the middle of the ocean in the Avenjet. On the way, he explains that each Infinity Stone has a different focus. The Power Stone, they've encountered already. And Tony has figured out not only that one of the stones controls time, but that unlike the other stones, it wasn't blasted to another place, but another time.

But to explain this, he falls back on that old time travel cliche.

Tony Stark: "It's not 'where' the Time Stone is..."

"But when are we!"
Falcon: "Awesome."
Hawkeye: "This thing better not send us into the past."

"If I end up in a purple mask again, the fans are just going to complain some more about Earth's Mightiest Heroes getting canceled."
Captain America: "I try to draw strength from my past."
Thor: "History is filled with glory!"
Iron Man: "You kidding? History's a series of bad ideas we're now improving on."

"I don't need to remind you all how bad last season was, do I?"
"I thought we would never stop fighting the Midgard Serpent."
"I thought I'd never stop wearing those tights."
"I thought Black Widow would never actually join us on our adventures."
"Where is Black Widow?"
"...Aw, crap, are we doing it again?"
Captain America: "Come on, Tony. Even you have to see value where you've come from."
Iron Man: "I'm a man of the future; you're a nostalgia guy. S'okay."

"You remember it so we don't have to."
Black Widow: "Fascinating conversation. But we're there."

"Oh, thank goodness. We thought we'd left you behind again."
So the Avengers get on the roof of the Avenjet and wait for something to happen while Iron Man gets in position. His calculations manage to be accurate enough for him to reach out his hand just in time for the Time Stone to materialize above it. What his calculations didn't account for is the Time Stone flying into his arc reactor in a wave of temporal energy.

Which makes sense if we're going by movie continuity, where the arc reactor was reverse-engineered from the Tesseract (aka the Space Stone) by Howard Stark. The Stones are probably drawn to each other some how. I'll buy that.

Anyway, Iron Man falls out of the sky, but Hawkeye's looking on the bright side as Thor goes to catch his teammate.

Hawkeye: "Well, at least we weren't zapped back in time."

Naturally, it's at this moment that Hawkeye is nabbed by one of the many pterodactyls emerging from a time portal like this was an episode of Primeval.

Hulk: "Love dinosaur attacks."

"Maybe I'll bring another one home!"
Thor catches Iron Man as the others hold off pterodactyls. Inside the jet, Falcon's instruments confirm that they're still in the present, it's the dinosaurs that are misplaced.

Captain America: "If we're not in the past, then where'd these thing come from? The Savage Land?"

Can you not see that gigantic portal in the sky? The one that appeared after the Time Stone went nuts?
Thor's excited to fight a dinosaur, but a wave of temporal energy from the Time Stone makes them all disappear, throwing off the team.

Black Widow: "Any explanation, Einstein?"
Iron Man: "Either we just stumbled into some awesome amusement park..."

Meh. The rides in Jurassic World are just okay.

Iron Man: "Or I accidentally ripped a hole in the fabric of time."

Oh, great, here come the Reapers.
Iron Man says he can undo the damage, but he needs to get the Time Stone out of his chest first.

Thor: "Reboot! These are the times you always proclaim 'reboot.'"

I would love to see Thor work tech support.

"Error Code 2000-0142 proclaims that your machine's self-test was not victorious. Though this should seem to promise sick offense in your machine's reasonable shore, do not turn tristful, my friend, for it may simply be an indign cable. My counsel to you is to reseat the HDD. Attempt to run the PSAs anon. Should you receive the same tidings, then a new HDD shall remedy the distemperature."
"But be warned... if you should receive missives of 2000-0146, then this bodes ill for your DST Log. Should such events befall, you can cleanse the log by booting into BIOS and requesting to clear the occulted humours. And if the fates are with you, the sickness may be slaked by conjuring chkdsk /r from the console of your hest."
"Would you be interested in filling out a brief survey of your service this day?"
Anyway, Iron Man tells Thor that turning it off and on didn't work. And worse, something's wrong with his voice. When they return to Avengers Tower, not only is his voice even higher pitched, but JARVIS says the armor doesn't recognize him.

JARVIS: "It thinks someone else is in the armor."

Maybe the armor prefers Eric Loomis over Adrian Pasdar?

Iron Man: "Get it off me, I'm so done with this."

Iron Man is oddly impatient, so he orders the Hulk to rip the faceplate off his armor, causing the others to react in shock.

Thor: "Tony's beard!"

So yes, Tony Stark has become a teenager. Only time will tell if this traps him on the edge of a deadly game, ensuring that his teenage life will never be the same. But it does explain why his armor doesn't recognize him.

Another temporal wave de-ages Tony a bit more, making it look less and less likely that Teen Tony will be having any armored adventures. The question is what's causing the waves.

Falcon: "His arc reactor's attached to his heart. Maybe heart rate triggers it."

Which doesn't even bother with addressing the fact that Tony Stark didn't HAVE an arc reactor in his chest when he was a kid.

To be fair, though, watching a child version of Tony Stark convulse in agony on the floor as his insides hemorrhage due to living tissue attempting to reform around and inside the machine in his sternum just might be a bit too extreme for the show's Y-7 rating. So I can forgive the writers for ignoring this bit of logic.

But you know what isn't too extreme for a Y-7 rating? Predictable teenager jokes.

Tony Stark: "Is that a zit?"

According to Falcon, every time Tony gets younger, the wave of energy deposits the usual time-travel flotsam (see: dinosaurs) into the general vicinity. And because "dinosaurs" means "T-Rex," a few of them pop up in the middle of New York.

And as if the show referring to pterodactyls as "dinosaurs" wasn't bad enough, these things are walking like Godzilla in flagrant disregard of how they were built to walk. And don't get me started on the lack of feathers.
Most of the Avengers leap into action to try and herd the gigantic reptiles away from civilians, which they all do in their own idiosyncratically violent way. Except for Hulk, who forgoes the smashing to roar at a T-Rex, scaring it away.

Falcon: "Wow! That was impressive."
Hulk: "Speaks my language."

"Also, I have a dinosaur of my own back in Nevada."
Back at the tower, Tony finally gets out of his armor while Captain America directs the others over the communications system. Tony doesn't see why he needs Captain America to look after him, since he's confident in his ability to regain control of his armor. And it works flawlessly... but only if Tony intentionally meant to shock himself across the room. Which I doubt.

Tony Stark: "Why'd you let me do that?!"
Captain America: "I tried to warn you..."
Tony Stark: "Don't act like my dad. He thought you were so awesome that I should just be like you."

Ah, Tony's just grumpy because he turned into Hiro Hamada without an Arsenal to be his Baymax.

Man, there are a surprising number of Big Hero 6 vibes this season. Since Man of Action created Big Hero Six in the first place, I can't help but wonder if these were intentional nods.

But Tony's so grumpy, in fact, that he triggers another temporal shift, making himself even younger while summoning robots to replace the dinosaurs the Avengers took down.

Future Robot: "Time stream disruption detected. Primary programming: Destroy."

The Hulk in particular manages to make the most of this newest incursion by bowling a couple triceratops into a battalion of metal warriors.

Future Robot: "Maestro detected. Eliminate."

Heh. Nice reference. Shame that Agents of S.M.A.S.H. had to follow up this reference in the most lackluster possible way.

Hmmmm, logically, this episode would have to come before the Hulks deflected that meteor, since that chain of events erased the Maestro from history, and the Hulk doesn't have the green eyes of Gamma poisoning, indicating that they future has not yet been changed....

Dang it, Marvel Animation Universe, why are you this confusing?
Back inside, Tony is still frustrated over his inability to get his armor to work for his pre-pubescent self. Cap tries to cheer him up, but is forced to go deal with the Red Skull escaping from his cell, thanks to some triceratops damaging the building from the inside.

He also gets stepped on by said triceratops.
Oddly enough, this is not the heaviest thing that will step on him without leaving so much as a scratch.
It does knock him out, though, while the triceratops wreak some more havoc, giving the Skull ample time to try and find Tony Stark while muttering to himself.

Tony Stark: "JARVIS, can't you shut down the elevator, or something?"
JARVIS: "The damage to the tower put the defenses offline, sir."

What? You're telling me that JARVIS can't reroute the power from the elevator? Heck, it doesn't have an emergency shutdown that JARVIS could activate? Your building's not up to code, Stark!

As the fight rages between the Avengers, the dinosaurs, and the robots, the Red Skull makes his way to Tony's floor, slipping and falling on the ball bearings Tony left out for him.

...Oh no. We're Home Alone-ing this?

The Red Skull chases Tony into the training room, where he lunges at a hologram Tony whipped up instead of the real thing.

Tony Stark: "Why do you want this thing so bad? It's nothing but a pain in my butt. Well, actually, my chest."

Because the Time Stone grants its wielder dominion over the whole of history and beyond, probably. The Fourth Doctor once spent a whole season looking for the pieces of such an artifact.

Since the Skull isn't lucid enough to answer Tony's question, Tony runs off while target drones from a training exercise wallop the crimson cranium in the head. But he manages to escape from there and falls for Tony's next trick: a note on Thor's room that says "Do Not Open." And he's not too happy to come face to face with Thor's bilgesnipe, which starts chasing him around.

Now that he has a bit more time to formulate a strategy, Tony heads to his room and finds a few old mementos from his actual childhood, including a helmet and self-made rocket skates. Then for no particular reason, given the dire situation, he pulls out an old birthday card from his dad, with a picture of a robotic claw serving cake in lieu of Howard Stark.

Interesting that the show keeps painting Howard as a loving, if busy, father while over in Gravity Falls, Soos's dad was considered a major jackass for pulling this exact stunt.
Tony Stark: "Ugh. Why did I keep this junk?"

Good question.

But Tony cheers up when he finds the design for the Iron Man armor he designed as a kid.

So really, getting shrapnel in his heart was Tony's excuse to live out his dream.
Tony Stark: "Brilliant, but never worked."

Probably because you designed it in crayon as a kid. I know the Zord I designed never worked.

Tony Stark: "Without an arc reactor!"

As Tony gets a brainstorm, the Red Skull finally gives Thor's bilgesnipe the slip in a stairwell. So he resumes his search, starting in Hawkeye's room, where he finds a crossbow.

Luckily for Tony, his babysitter wakes up from his dinosaur-induced nap and radios Tony, who's busy welding in the lab. He has another Time Stone flash, adding HYDRA pilots in the Red Skull's secret weapons from the end of Captain America: The First Avenger.

Which were also based on real life Nazi designs. So technically, the Nazis did concept art for this episode.
Semantics are weird.
Falcon: "So that's what happened to the lost HYDRA squadron."

Remember this for the end of the episode.

Speaking of HYDRA, the Red Skull follows the trail of armor pieces into the lab, where Tony hides behind the lab bench.

Red Skull: "Come out, come out, wherever you are...."

...Please stop being actually creepy, Red Skull.
Well, I believe I have just peed every pair of pants in the vicinity.
Tony Stark: "Get away from me!"
Red Skull: "Don't... be such... a baby."

He picks up Tony, making him freak out and cause the Time Stone to go nuts yet again. But this time, the Red Skull is made younger, too. But while Tony is stuck as a kid, the Red Skull gets zapped back to his physical and mental prime.

Red Skull: "Your friends are occupied with the chaos you've created. Now..."

Luckily for Tony, Cap arrives to bonk Red Skull in the head with his shield. They fight as Tony puts the finishing touches on his improvised plan.

Tony Stark: "Jet skates deploy!"

Foul! I call foul! Where did the skates come from? Are his feet hollow?
The Avengers stare down terrible odds outside, but Hawkeye relishes the chance to say the catchphrase.

Hawkeye: "Aven-"
Thor: "Avengers assemble!"
Hawkeye: "Aw, come on!"

Back inside, Red Skull beats up Captain America until Tony shoots his rocket skates at him. But when Red Skull bashes Cap in the head with an Iron Man chestplate, he regains the upper hand.

He nabs Tony, but Tony voice-activates his new armor to save the day.

Tony Stark: "I... am... Iron Kid!"

Okay, points for using the old 60s armor.
He blasts Red Skull into the wall and out of the building, so now all that remains is to fix the problem with his reactor. It's getting worse. And despite havign started the day as an Avenger, in this moment, he's just a little kid. And he's never been this scared in his life, unlike the ever-brave Captain America.

Captain America: "I was brave long before I was Captain America. And Tony Stark was a hero long before he was Iron Man."

Tony hugs Cap hard and sheds some tears before reaching into his chest and slowly pulling out the Time Stone.

Could... could he do that this whole time?
In a flash, everything goes back to normal. Since Hawkeye fired an experimental arrow shortly before this happened, he naturally takes the credit for pressing the reset button. That is, until Tony, back to normal, fills them in on the newly-contained Time Stone.

Thor: "It was still a mighty shot, Hawkeye."
Hawkeye: "Right?"

Boy, fate seems to be peeing in Hawkeye's corn flakes today.

Oh, hey, also. Remember the "lost HYDRA squadron"? They were sent back to their proper place in the 40s. Sure, Hawkeye shot all of them down with a single arrow, but still. Dead? Maybe. But so much for "lost." Unless they went down over water, or history briefly changed when they came to the future, resulting in a lost HYDRA squadron in the 1940s until they were sent back, meaning that there never was...

Me too, Miles. Me too.
Once back in the tower, Falcon admires Tony's 8-year-old self's armor design.

Falcon: "I should go through my old sketchbooks."

Yeah, me too. Haven't done that in a while. Let's see...

That was a bad plan.

Tony puts the Time Stone into containment before Thor goes to get the bilgesnipe out of the stairwell. Later, Tony meets up with Captain America in the training room to tell him that he was right all along.

Tony Stark: "The past can teach us things. Like what being a hero is."

And he also shows off a photo of his old Halloween costume.

Tony Stark: "I made that shield myself."

Making shields runs in the family.
So Captain America hands him the shield and lets him have a go.

Tony Stark: "You know, I can take this to the lab and make some modern improvements."

Fun Fact: In the comics, he did.

And so, Tony wields the mighty shield against some training spheres, and the episode ends. So let's review this episode and... hey, wait. Age of Tony Stark...

I get it!


  1. Wow, that guy in your sketchbook sorta looks like Krang from the IDW TMNT comics.

    1. Yeah. Mix Krang with USM's HYDRA Doc Ock, add some suckiness, and that's about what I drew. I think his name was Pod, because he could retract his limbs and float around.