Disney X D is hedging its bets by getting an early start with the conclusion to its animated Ultron saga on “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble,” putting it on air just days before the American premiere of Avengers: Age of Ultron. With a civil war of Avengers going on, this is the worst possible time for the malevolent machine messiah to strike, but it’s always darkest before the dawn. Meet me after the jump for my review of “The Ultron Outbreak.”
Avengers and Ant-Men
As we open, Iron Man’s Avengers team of Thor and Hawkeye, along with Ant-Man, who is described as not being a member, are following up on a lead regarding Ultron. Um, I thought Ultron was soundly defeated two episodes ago? As much as I would like Ant-Man to be a part of this team, two things should be noted. It has never been said who is under that helmet – Hank Pym, Scott Lang, or even Eric O’Grady – and it has been repeatedly said that he’s not, and never has been, an Avenger.
Iron Man’s team is soon joined by the S.H.I.E.L.D.-uniformed other Avengers – the Black Widow, the Falcon, and the Hulk (with combed hair, uniform, and bare feet), led by Captain America, and indirectly led by Nick Fury. Yeah, S.H.I.E.L.D. is intact in the Marvel Animated Universe. As Iron Man and Cap resume their idiotic arguments of recent memory, Falcon and Ant-Man see something on the ground. Too late, Ultron has compromised the Falcon, and he turns on his teammates, both current and former.
Same Old Songs
Many of the problems that have plagued this series from the very beginning are evident in the battle scenes that follow. The two teams constantly get in each other’s way as they battle the Ultron-ized Falcon, who is infecting as many people as possible into Ultron drones. The teamwork factor is ridiculous as these characters rarely work together when they are on the same side in this series.
Their banter is never as much fun as it was in the “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” cartoon. I just can’t see these characters as they are portrayed being friends, let alone having fun. These animated Avengers are not fun. And the obviously inserted references to the movie Age of Ultron are sad, transparent, and overbearing. I feel the same way about animation as I do about comics. Stop worrying about selling and marketing – and just tell good stories. People will come.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
There are parts of this that I liked, I’ll confess. I sooo loved that Ant-Man pulls a Hank Pym (whether he is him or not) and takes the battle where he fights best – the lab. I also really dug Ultron’s throne, a la the Iron Throne in “Game of Thrones,” made of old Iron Man armors. And I did like that in the third act the Avengers did actually engage in some teamwork.
Stark is still keeping secrets and holding back information. He’s taking unnecessary risks because of his unhealthy and creepy relationship with Arsenal. And then there’s that far too similar conclusion to the ending of the first Avengers movie, with Iron Man seemingly lost and returned. I almost expected them to go out for schwarma.
All’s well that end shakily. The Avengers re-assemble, Ultron has been vanquished, as has Arsenal thankfully. And Ant-Man is now a member. Maybe now we’ll find out who’s under the helmet…