The Cabal is back, and with the Tesseract in their hands they are nearly unstoppable. When the Falcon is taken down in battle with the villains, Iron Man steps down as leader, blaming himself. Can the Avengers defeat The Cabal without Iron Man? Meet me after the jump for my review of “Exodus.”
The Avengers without Iron Man as leader may seem unnatural in the Marvel Animated Universe, which in turn is loosely based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but believe it or not it’s the norm rather than the exception in the comics. Oh to be sure, Stark has been leader, a notably crappy one for a stint in the 1970s, but he’s never been the leader of the Avengers.
The team has always, until the Disassembled event and later creation of multiple teams of Avengers, run by a revolving chairmanship. The Wasp, Hawkeye, the Vision, Thor, the second Captain Marvel, Hank Pym, the Black Widow, Ms. Marvel, Luke Cage, even Doctor Druid, among others have all served as Avengers leaders. But the man who has served longest, and with the most respect, and quite frankly the best leadership abilities is Captain America. That’s why when he doubted as replacing Stark as leader here, it just seems wrong. To many of us, Captain America just is the leader of the Avengers.
At Last, The Black Widow
Yes, I know, you’re tired of hearing it, but it’s time for my weekly Black Widow rant. As much as the folks behind the scenes at “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble” seem to hate the Black Widow (or any female characters for that matter), with two Avengers down, they kinda had to use Natasha finally. She gets some good dialogue, takes down a giant robot, and shows exactly why she belongs on the team – but then is quickly reduced to Hawkeye’s sidekick once again. Not cool.
And if the Avengers are down by two, shouldn’t they recruit help? Even if they don’t want to bring in new characters from the comics, surely they could call Nick Fury and SHIELD, or the Agents of SMASH, or Ant-Man or Spider-Man. War Machine should certainly be in continuity as well. In the comics, Captain America has never been shy of new recruits.
Now I’ve never fond of the idea of Sam Wilson, the Falcon, being a SHIELD agent and certainly not being merely Iron Man’s sidekick. Unlike in the comics or in the movies, the “Avengers Assemble” version of the Falcon has been like Iron Man Jr. The tech is all Stark, he’s got armor and he shoots things. For me, who grew up with Captain America and the Falcon as equal partners, this is a disgrace to the character. I want to see him be his own man, and in this episode, Stark doesn’t let him.
Under the pretense of protecting him more, Stark gives him ‘better’ armor. He’s looking less and less Falcon-like to me. When I think of the Falcon, I think old school 1970s Sal Buscema. This new armor is more the unattractive and uncharacteristic space armor Falc wore in Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity. I don’t like it.
Iron Man Three and a Half
Now when Stark does come out his pity party and show up to the battle, it’s severe déjà vu. We watch for at least five minutes, an eternity in animation, battles we’ve seen before between individual members of both the Avengers and The Cabal – Hulk vs. Attuma, Captain America vs. Dracula, etc. And what are those things that look like Cap’s shield? Then Stark shows up and reveals his theoretical master plan. Sigh. It’s the same master plan he has at the end of Iron Man Three, multiple armors on the attack – House Party Protocol.
Granted. There are not as many, or as cool, of armors as in the movie, but the Iron Patriot suit from the comics and the film is there, as is the aforementioned War Machine armor. Somehow these unmanned armors are able to do what the Avengers couldn’t, and that just makes me angry. I am tired of the good guys getting their butts handed to them in this series.
Stark also brought with him, along with the House Party, knowledge of the Red Skull’s master plan. This also ticked me off a bit. Why couldn’t he hip his comrades to this ahead of time? If he was so upset by the Falcon getting hurt, why wasn’t he concerned by the rest of the Avengers being harmed by not knowing what the Skull and The Cabal were up to? At least selfish, stupid Tony Stark is staying in character.
The Red Skull was using the Tesseract to open up gateways to other worlds to conquer – an underwater world for Attuma, a world of darkness for Dracula, for Hyperion a world where he would be appreciated (devious, that one), and for MODOK, Asgard, just to make things really scary for at least one Avengers. Of course it was a trap, and a double cross, courtesy of the Skull.
When Stark squashes this plan by spilling the beans to his fellow Cabal members, the Red Skull goes to plan B, using the Tesseract to power his armor – becoming the Cosmic Skull. No longer a threat to Avengers and the Earth, he’s now a threat to the entire universe. As much as I disliked parts of this episode, this is a hell of a cliffhanger. Next week, the season finale of “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble.”