Since the recent original graphic novel Avengers: Rage of Ultron, Hank Pym and Ultron are now closer than ever, but there was a time when you couldn’t mention one without the other. Pym probably won’t be a part of the Avengers: Age of Ultron movie, and he hasn’t yet been mentioned in conjunction with the animated version of the robotic villain in “Avengers Assemble.” Maybe that changes with this episode. Meet me after the anthill jump for my thoughts on “Small Time Heroes.”
The Absorbing Man
Two episodes ago, Captain America quit the Avengers over leadership issues with Iron Man, and at the end of the last episode, he left taking half the team with him. Now, what’s left – Iron Man, Hawkeye, and Thor – are not doing so well. With little to do other than try to rebuild their headquarters, with only one technical person on staff, their day brightens when they hear the Absorbing Man is on the rampage. The three assemble, an easy trick as there are only three left, and all in the same room, and take on the villain. Again, it shouldn’t be that hard to take him, even with just the three of them.
Old ‘Crusher’ Creel here is much closer to his comic book roots than his more recent live action appearances in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “Daredevil.” This Absorbing Man looks like he stepped off the comics page, walkin’ like Creel and talkin’ like Creel, and he’s even with his girlfriend, Titania. And it’s that last unexpected piece of the puzzle that is the three Avengers’ downfall. Our heroes were not expecting the extra strength and firepower, and it doesn’t help that Creel absorbs Thor’s Uru hammer. Let us just say the new sleek team does not have a good showing in the press their first time out.
Hawkeye and Falcon
Throughout the battle and through most of the press interview, Tony’s Iron Man armor is falling apart. Short circuiting Avengers Tower to take down Ultron, even temporarily zilched all the tech in the Tower, including J.A.R.V.I.S. and the armor. With his limited resources, both in technology and in extra brain power, even Tony is in trouble. I have to wonder if the animated version of Hawkeye has someone else make his trick arrows, because in the comics, there is quite a bit of tech skill involved in that that Hawkeye should be able to offer. We’ll get back to this however, because the folks making this show really seem to know nothing about Hawkeye at all.
In desperation Tony tries to track down the Falcon in hopes of re-recruiting him to his tiny Avengers team. Falcon is wearing new colors and assumedly working for S.H.I.E.L.D. This is curious as Captain America was depicted as working for S.H.I.E.L.D. in the last episode as well. If S.H.I.E.L.D. is Cap’s ‘team,’ where were they earlier in the fight against the Absorbing Man and Titania? S.H.I.E.L.D. was onsite there. Either way, the Falcon denies Tony as he is still lying to him. Is it time to have Tony Stark be a good guy again? I am sooo tired of this.
Tony’s next stop, which of course keeping with his character of late, he keeps from Thor and Hawkeye, is a park, where they encounter A.I.M. agents in their beekeeper finest raising hell. As Ant-Man appears, we find that the Avengers have spoiled everything, and now A.I.M. has stolen some of Ant-Man’s Pym particles. Stark doesn’t care, he just wants his armor fixed. As Ant-Man shrinks the three Avengers down to his lab in an anthill, I get the vibe of what’s really going on here.
As an Avengers fan, I am conditioned, as I said in the intro, to think Ultron and Pym in the same breath, and they are related here, but not in the obvious way. They are both major motion pictures in need of hype. Ultron isn’t why Ant-Man is here, the upcoming Ant-Man film is. That’s why this feels so weirdly like a pilot or back door spin-off. Pym’s got his own lab in an anthill, his own cases, his own J.A.R.V.I.S.-like majordomo Tony, doing his best Goodfellas impression. It’s not just a repair stop for Stark, it’s a set-up.
M.O.D.O.K. and Hawkeye
As it becomes apparent that M.O.D.O.K. is running A.I.M. to get the stolen Pym particles, I am overcome by two conflicting emotions. One is hey, this is an awesome idea for M.O.D.O.K. to use Pym particles to grow his what-passes-for-a-body to giant-size, and the other is who the heck is this guy who looks like Hawkeye? We’ve seen Ant-Man once before in the “Avengers Assemble” series, in that embarrassing episode where Falcon’s mom came to visit, and sadly the status quo has remained unchanged.
There is no mention of Ant-Man ever having been an Avenger, and more distressing than that, Hawkeye who is Pym friend for many years of the comics, comes off abrasive and abusive to Ant-Man. This is a Hawkeye I would believe would sleep with Hank’s wife, thank you very much, Chuck Austen, but not the real Hawkeye. Who is this guy? The real Clint Barton was Goliath for quite some time, so he should have no problems with Pym particles at all.
Solutions and Disappointments
Iron Man breaks down finally and asks Ant-Man for help in stopping M.O.D.O.K. Pym’s plan is along the lines of ‘journey to the center of M.O.D.O.K.’s brain, a variation of classic Avengers stories where Pym went inside the Vision, and years later vice-versa, but here the idea is almost wasted. I had to wonder if Pym had gone to all the trouble of growing the ants to horse-size – why couldn’t he grow himself, ahem, like in the comics, and go toe to toe with M.O.D.O.K. himself as Giant-Man?
The rest of the episode is one big joke, with this person we’re supposed to believe is Hawkeye badly disguising his voice to call S.H.I.E.L.D. and let them know where the defeated M.O.D.O.K. is. Does no one making this show either respect these characters or know anything about them? It’s also quite ridiculous to see the ‘other’ Avengers in their S.H.I.E.L.D. togs, especially the Hulk fully dressed with combed hair. Things won’t stay this way for long though. Ultron is coming back sooner than we thought – I’ll see you mid-week, with “The Ultron Outbreak!”