I remember how people overreacted three years ago when Disney bought Marvel. A lot of people got chills over the ideas of mixing and matching properties. What are they going to do, have some Disney cartoon property cross paths and have some kind of silly adventure with the Marvel superheroes or something?
Well, yes. Yes, that’s exactly what they did. It’s okay, though, because that cartoon property is Phineas and Ferb, which is actually rather good.
If you’ve never seen Phineas and Ferb, whether it be that you never heard of it or wrote it off as crap, the 6-year-old series portrays the adventures of two super-smart boys and their three best friends Isabella, Buford, and Baljeet. Their sister Candace is constantly trying to “bust” them by showing their mother what kind of insane activities they’re up to, though every time she fails. Meanwhile, there’s a constant, intertwining B-plot where it turns out that Phineas and Ferb’s pet platypus Perry is really a secret agent who is constantly foiling the plans of Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz, the show’s REAL star.
The plot to Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel is that while our title characters and friends are literally surfing in space while collecting cosmic rays for their satellite, Dr. Doofenshmirtz attempts to use his Power Draininator on the mayor in order to gain his governmental powers. Things go wrong, the gizmo ends up shooting into space, bounces off Phineas’ satellite and fires down into New York, where as it just so happens, we have Spider-Man, Iron Man, Hulk and Thor fighting the rather random villain team of Red Skull, MODOK, Venom, and Whiplash. The beam blasts the heroes and removes their powers. Hulk is still Hulk, it’s just that he’s not strong. Iron Man, meanwhile, has lost power of his suit and has to be moved around by a furniture dolly.
The heroes seek out Phineas and Ferb while the villains seek out Dr. Doofenshmirtz. While the villains are constantly bemused by Doofenshmirtz’s antics, the mad scientist loves that he now has an entourage of villainy surrounding him and uses their numbers to commit some rather trivial crimes like having MODOK steal quarters from a fountain or having Venom steal hotdogs from a vendor (played by Stan Lee!). Meanwhile, the kids try to return powers to the superheroes, but due to Candace’s incompetence, the powers are mixed up. Thor sticks to walls, Spider-Man is super-strong, Iron Man is strong despite not being able to lift Mjolnir, and Hulk… really has a hankering to wear armor. All this, plus Perry the Platypus’ boss is trying to kiss up to SHIELD’s Nick Fury.
Despite such a bloated cast, the special gives almost everyone their chance to shine. Considering how long it took me to even explain the plot, you can see that there is a little too much going on at times and it does make some things come off a bit rushed. For instance, there’s a subplot about how Candace and Isabella feel underused and thrown to the wayside. While Candace’s part in this has been given plenty of focus, Isabella’s feels shoehorned in out of nowhere. The two do a musical number with a montage of clips to remind us why they feel this way and Isabella’s amounts to a minor verbal exchange she had with Buford, who was being his usual rude self.
And yes, there are musical numbers, the one thing that prevents me from watching the series on a regular basis. The episode has two numbers and a musical montage. As always on the show, if you’re getting one based on humor (such as Doofenshmirtz’s crimewave), you might be getting some entertainment out of it. The Candace/Isabella song about how they’re only trying to help is probably the best time to go make a sandwich.
The strength of the special comes from the comedy, mainly any scene with Dr. Doofenshmirtz and his mile-a-minute dialogue. The jokes hit more than they miss, though sometimes they miss pretty hard. There’s a cliché gag during the big climactic battle from Phineas that’s so played out that even when I was a little kid, I thought it was a lame joke. And that was a long-ass time ago! It stuck out in a cartoon that gave us a really great scene of Iron Man and Spider-Man arguing about whether Perry the Platypus is really Howard the Duck.
There are some nice Marvel references here and there. Don’t expect to see anyone outside the four heroes and Nick Fury, but a few aspects of the Marvel universe are mentioned or alluded to. Probably the best one is a reference to a certain Incredible Hulk sequence that will go over most children’s heads, but doesn’t take away from what’s going on.
As for the superheroing, it’s shockingly pretty excellent. There are three action sequences over the course of the special with a lot going on. There’s a ton going on in the third act, what with the four heroes, four villains and the main cast getting involved. Luckily, the animation is up to the challenge. The climactic struggle between good and evil is really well-done and looks like one of those 80’s cartoon show intros where the studio spent 3/4 of the animation budget on one minute of footage.
It has its faults, but the awkward crossover is a pretty good time. If you’re already a fan of the show, definitely check it out. If you just like the Marvel aspect, give it a shot if it’s on. At the very least, you’ll get to see a Nazi getting pelted with waffles, a blob of living alien spandex ring a doorbell and run away, and a Norse god riding a skateboard.