Avengers Assemble: Avengers Protocol Parts 1 and 2, Review

The premiere of the new Avengers cartoon on Disney XD was a two-parter, loaded with action, and with a style that fans of Marvel's films should recognize.

Avengers Assemble, the latest animated incarnation of Marvel’s premiere superhero team, made its debut with an hour long, two-part special on Disney XD. It’s a slick, rapid-fire dose of action that closely mirrors the look and tone of the cinematic Avengers, while hinting at just enough of the wider, comic book Marvel Universe to assure fans that there’s still plenty of room to open up the floodgates of available heroes and villains. How does it measure up against other recent superhero animated series? Read on…Avengers Assemble has a different look and tone than the show it replaced, Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, which stayed a little closer to the franchise’s comic book roots. Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes was great fun, loaded with Marvel Universe supporting characters, heroes, and villains, and sported a sparse, cartoony look that was kind of like a “Bruce Timm-lite.” It didn’t always hit the mark, but when it did (particularly with its introductions of characters like Carol Danvers and Mar-Vell), it really nailed it. It was enjoyable, and over the course of its 52 episode run, it explored a good-sized chunk of Avengers mythology.So, perhaps it’s wise that Avengers Assemble doesn’t make TOO much of an effort to distance itself from the previous series, which only aired its final episode in November of 2012. Instead, Assemble operates under the premise that the Avengers have disbanded for a bit, and instead of another origin episode, “Avengers Protocol” deals with how and why Tony Stark gets the team back together. It spares the audience the headaches associated with origin stories, it should (at least somewhat) placate fans of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and it also puts the series in a rather nebulous segment of continuity where it could (if you squint hard enough) take place somewhere between the lines of the Phase One and Phase Two of the Marvel cinematic universe.I make it a point to not judge any series by its opening episodes, and that goes triple for animated series, which have a tendency to beat its intended younger audience over the head with archetypes in order to establish who everyone is and why they behave the way they do. Avengers Assemble is no exception. Captain America and Black Widow both behave as expected, Tony Stark is the self-absorbed wiseguy that Robert Downey Jr. made famous, Hulk and Thor have an amusing “we beat the crap out of each other because its fun” dynamic, and, perhaps most interestingly, Hawkeye is less the stoic agent that Jeremy Renner made famous in the film, and is instead the abrasive, self-deprecating everyman currently being written so well in Matt Fraction’s ongoing Hawkeye comic. It doesn’t always work, but at the very least, the interactions are amusing, particularly between Hawkeye and Hulk. The movie-tested team adds Sam Wilson’s Falcon to the mix, which should indicate just how important this character will likely be in the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier film, and possibly Avengers 2.When Avengers Assemble makes its official, ongoing debut later this summer as part of Disney XD’s Marvel Universe programming block, it will run alongside other the brand new Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H and the successful Ultimate Spider-Man. Given the similar look of these series, the involvement of the Man of Action crew (which includes comic book veterans Joe Casey, Jeph Loeb, Duncan Rouleau, and Steven T. Seagle) as well as the presence of Ultimate Spider-Man‘s Chi McBride showing up once again as the voice of Nick Fury, it’s at least possible that there’s a shared animated universe being built here, as well. Don’t worry, Avengers Assemble dispenses with the more surreal, jokey elements that some fans have complained about in Ultimate Spider-Man, and instead just focuses on the Avengers crew throwing down hard with the Red Skull, MODOK, and their minions.It may be a little early to make this call, but fans expecting a serious exploration of the Marvel Universe, similar to what DC did so well with shows like Young Justice and Justice League Unlimited, will probably be disappointed by Avengers Assemble. Nevertheless, these first two episodes are visually appealing, dynamic, and never dull. There is one notable area where Avengers Assemble triumphs over Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, however. Assemble has wisely dispensed with the tremendously irritating rock music that opened and closed the previous series, and replaced it with a more suitably “heroic” (if a little generic) instrumental theme. I’m not ready to call Avengers Assemble essential viewing for (ahem) “serious fans,” but it’s certainly entertaining enough for adults, and appropriate for its target audience as a kind of gateway into the wider Marvel Universe. Avengers Assemble is good, noisy, superhero fun. Let’s see where it goes from here!Den of Geek Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars.Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all news updates related to the world of geek. And Google+, if that’s your thing