This is the second season of “Avengers Assemble” and you know what that means, right? It means Thanos. Just like the Red Skull and The Cabal were the focus and big bad for the first season, this time it’s Thanos, and the mad Titan makes quite a splash in the season’s first episode. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “The Arsenal.”
In the comics, Thanos has rather humble beginnings before becoming one of the major big bads of the Marvel Universe. He was created by Jim Starlin and first appeared in Iron Man #55 but soon became a regular in the Captain Marvel series, cementing his role of the super-villain in the cosmic Marvel Universe. Thanos was a nihilist and worshipped death, or more appropriately, Death. Soon he became obsessed with the various Infinity Gems, before obtaining them all for his Infinity Gauntlet.
With the Gauntlet Thanos became a threat to the entire universe, and would eventually not only fight every Marvel superhero, but also kill half of all life in the universe. Yeah, just try and beat that, Galactus. As the Marvel Cinematic Universe developed, Thanos, as played by Josh Brolin, became the ultimate big bad behind both the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy movies. He is suspected of playing a huge role in both of those films.
We open on Tony Stark leading the Avengers remotely from Avengers Tower. As we (and Tony) watch Thor and Hulk fight a monster (some weird cross between Blackheart and the Wendigo), Captain America and the revamped updated Falcon take on Hydra, and Hawkeye and the Black Widow clash with AIM, we also learn that Iron Man has trained the Avengers so well, they don’t need him any more. Wow, someone took their arrogance pills this morning, didn’t they?
So bored is Iron Man that he might take up a hobby, like reading through his father’s old files, especially one called Project: Arsenal. Now we comics readers, or at least us hardcore Avengers fans know Arsenal. Howard Stark built the robot Arsenal as a final defender in case the Allies lost World War II and programmed it to follow the orders of an AI called Mistress, essentially Maria Stark’s brain patterns. Uh huh. now we know where Tony gets it.
The Real Avengers at Last?
While Tony ponders looking into Project: Arsenal, New York comes under alien attack, or one ship pursued by several drones. Fearless leader calls in the troops. As the Avengers take on the drones and save lives there is a distinctive difference from the characters we saw last season. A distinctive positive difference.
These heroes are organized, working together. When fans get together and talk who’d-win scenarios between the Avengers and the Justice League, the one advantage Earth’s Mightiest always have is teamwork. This is not a group of individual superstars teamed together, this is a team who works and trains together as a unit. That’s what shines in this opening sequence.
The camaraderie is done well. Thor is not played as an idiot. Thank Odin! Everyone gets a spotlight, a clever quip, and most of all, in character – or in the case of the altered Falcon, in character with their animated version. Color me impressed, I think I like this series, finally.
Warning from Space
On board the lead ship, once the drones have been taken out, the Avengers find the Red Skull. He is ragged, beaten, and scared, and he’s begging for help. After more dangerous drones appear, Cap asks who the Skull is afraid of, and he replies “Thanos, the mad Titan.” And so it begins. As this series was based on the movie Marvel’s Avengers, it’s about time we got to that film’s final aftercredits big bad.
The Skull has an Infinity Gem, and that’s what Thanos is after. Thor, who studied such things in Asgard identifies it as the Power Gem (same one from the Guardians of the Galaxy film), but that’s all he can remember as he would have rather been smashing trolls. Yeah, I know, but he’s not as bad as he was last season. Cap can’t hold it, but Iron Man has a plan to use the gem… Project: Arsenal.
Bad Idea Theater
The Avengers, Red Skull and Power Gem in tow, track Project: Arsenal to an unstable gamma reactor in Russia, but of course by that time the forces of Thanos have also trailed them there as well. The reactor seems to have been kept from overloading by Arsenal’s presence inside it. Hulk gives him the Power Gem, and the machine stops the reactor meltdown and attacks Thanos’ forces.
This Arsenal looks nothing like his comics counterpart. In the comics, Arsenal was a ten to twelve foot muscular robot with a chest-mounted cannon. This Arsenal here is a skeletal human-sized robot with six weird eyes. And while he takes out Thanos’ ship, his primary programming is to be Tony’s friend. Weird, that was unexpected.
Thanos crawling from the wreckage of his ship was not. To be continued, and except for the left field ball of this new animated Arsenal, I’m excited about what comes next. What did you folks think?