Finally it’s here, the moment we have all been dreading and waiting for with anxious anticipation all this second season of “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble” – Thanos is on Earth with the Infinity Gauntlet, and only the Avengers stand in his way. As Stan ‘The Man’ Lee used to say in situations like this, “‘Nuff said!” Be prepared for the battle of the century, or based on this series’ track record, the disappointment of the century… Either way, meet me after the jump for my review of “Thanos Triumphant!”
We open on Thanos doing voiceover, a parody of the wonderful quote that began every issue of Avengers when I was growing up, you know, the “And there came a day…” * quote, that all true Avengers fans know by heart. Thanos is above the Earth, building a throne with the Infinity Gauntlet. Along with the narration, it’s a nice trick, too bad what follows is almost embarrassing… for all involved…
The Avengers throw an Avenjet at him, then they follow, wearing something that just made me groan – the Titan suits from “Thanos Rising.” Now I admit, I dug the 1999 “Avengers: United They Stand” animated series, everything except the annoying Power Rangers costume changes. These Titan armors make that look good. What I wouldn’t do for one of those costume changes right now. Stupid toy tie-in attempt, made even more stupid by the lack of toys.
The armored suits, weirdly customized to each Avenger, are useless unless they’re used to survive in space, and that point may be moot as there seems to be an oxygen pocket around Thanos’ throne platform. The suits are just dumb. Why would Hulk or Thor need them, and isn’t the concept of Iron Man wearing armor on top of his armor silly? And why use holographic versions of Mjolnir or Cap’s shield when you have the real thing??
As Thanos starts to destroy the Earth slowly with major environmental disasters, done well with animated special effects (I’ll give them that, nice use of real fire on computer generated water), the fight continues to little effect. Thanos breaks Widow’s armor quickly and shatters the moon’s surface with Thor, the latter almost as cool as hitting the hammer with Thor. For the most part, the Avengers are fleas to Thanos. Our heroes need to start thinking outside the box.
Outside the Box
Why not recruit Doctor Strange for this mission? He was with them last episode, right? Perhaps they could release Dormammu, have him fight Thanos for possession of the Stones – it wouldn’t matter who won, because the Avengers could beat a weakened Thanos, and they’ve already proven they can beat Dormammu, right? That’s how they used to do it in the old kaiju eiga, make the giant monsters fight, and then it’s easy to dispatch the victor who is usually weary from the battle. This old Godzilla fan knows.
The Avengers might have also recruited the Guardians of the Galaxy (they do show up at the end, where were they before that?), Spider-Man or Ant-Man, or the Fantastic Four, the New Warriors, or even the television only Agents of S.M.A.S.H. Jeph Loeb canceled the good Avengers animated series, “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes,” so he could have a more cohesive continuity among its Marvel Animated Universe. Wouldn’t now, with the entire world at stake, be the time to mine that continuity? Where did the Guardians go after last week anyway. They obviously weren’t that concerned about the Infinity Stones.
Stark the Genius
Tony Stark the genius (a word used to mock him by Thanos) thinks if they can get the mad Titan to use each gem one at a time he can get readings on them. Readings for what, I’m not sure. Stark wants Thanos to attack the Avengers with the Infinity Stones, and they go along with it. Wait, what? Maybe Stark is exactly the kind of genius Thanos thinks he is.
From the same episode that that silly armor first appeared in, “Thanos Rising,” Arsenal, Tony’s robotic big brother had the Power Stone. Shouldn’t Tony have gotten readings from the Power Stone while Arsenal was in possession of it? For that matter, why didn’t he get ‘readings’ when had the other four Stones last episode? Regardless, it’s not the Power Stone that Thanos uses when he finally does go for it – it’s the Time Stone.
The Time Stone ages the Avengers. At first they keep going, Captain America making a comment along the lines that he’s beaten time before – I liked that – but eventually they turn to dust one by one. Before he goes, we get a sneak peek of The Maestro, Hulk’s possible future self, who will be appearing in next week’s episode of “Agents of S.M.A.S.H.”
Thor is the only one left standing, as an Asgardian, he is hundreds of years old with hundreds of years left in his lifespan. Thanos is going to have to try harder with him. Taking on an appearance close to that of his father, Thor continues to hammer (sorry) at Thanos, saying that “passage of time only makes Asgardians more powerful.” Wait, what, really? Is that a thing? Whatever. Thanos conveniently puts everything back the way it was. How nice of the mad Titan. Couldn’t he have just used another Stone to dispatch old Thor?
Mind and Space
Next Thanos almost predictably uses another Stone alone, the Mind Stone, turning the Avengers against each other. They say things that most of us viewers have been saying all through the episode so far. Mostly though it’s emotion, mainly paranoia and anger, but Tony, thinking for once, uses the Hulk’s rage to the team’s advantage. Realizing this tact is not working for him, Thanos switches to another Stone.
The Space Stone, which surely must do more than simply this, allows Thanos to teleport and surprise attack each Avenger. The Black Widow figures out a pattern to the teleport, and with Hawkeye and the rest of the team, take the mad Titan down. It’s too easy, far too easy, and had I just been judging this series on this episode alone, I would have guessed what happened immediately, but as I’ve noted, “Avengers Assemble” is all too often full of disappointment.
The above said, they got me, and I have to apologize. The defeat of Thanos, and the world coming together as one to help in the aftermath of his attack worked for me. I believed that Hydra and A.I.M. were aiding survivors, that the Squadron Supreme wanted to join S.H.I.E.L.D., but they couldn’t get past me the same thing they couldn’t get past Cap. The Red Skull turned himself in? I said it out loud watching. Reality Stone. Well, actually I said, “Reality Gem,” but that’s a whole ‘nother chicken to fry.
And speaking of reality checks, once Thanos is stripped of his Infinity Gauntlet, he is ridiculously easy to beat. Maybe the writers were eager to get to the shock and big big bad at the end (just wait), so they fudged it but Thanos is no lightweight, even without his Infinity Gauntlet. When I first met the mad Titan waaaay back in 1974’s Avengers #125, he was already a heavy hitter, a major big bad, quite possibly a threat our heroes could not handle alone – and this was quite a bit before he obtained his preferred accessories. One does not dispatch Thanos that easily.
Tony’s dues ex machina plan is to resurrect the aforementioned Arsenal and have him absorb the power of the Infinity Gauntlet, after which the Avengers took down Thanos. Yes, I booed out loud at the TV. I am not a fan of outside forces beating the bad guys or saving the world. I want to see the heroes do it – that’s why they are the heroes. That’s what happens here, Arsenal takes the Gauntlet, though it doesn’t end well.
There’s a glitch in the robot’s programming, an opening that allowed Ultron to get in. Didn’t I call this quite soon time ago? What really surprised me was that everyone knew who Ultron was. Someone better nail down exactly what the history and continuity of this animated version of the Avengers actually is, and pretty quick. If this is Ultron that the Avengers have fought before – who built him (Stark or Hank Pym?), where has he been, and how can he be stopped with the power of the Infinity Gauntlet at his disposal? Things can only get worse from here…
Quite frankly, I did not like this episode until the very end, at which point I had nothing but questions. Is this Pym’s Ultron from the comics, or Stark’s Ultron from the movies? Is there a Vision in this continuity? So many questions, and so few that I believe we’ll get answers to. Either way, I am psyched for the next new episode of “Avengers Assemble.”
* for the newbies: “And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth’s mightiest heroes and heroines found themselves united against a common threat. On that day, the Avengers were born – to fight the foes no single super hero could withstand! Through the years, their roster has prospered, changing many times, their glory has never been denied! Heed the call, then – for now, the Avengers Assemble!”