5-Word 365 #111 – Next Avengers: Heroes Of Tomorrow

I’m going to see The Avengers in six days. Sorry. I’m going to see Marvel’s Avengers Assemble in six days. Yes, I know it’s a silly name but hopefully it won’t tarnish the film itself too much. To get myself appropriately hyped up for this, I went hunting on Netflix for some kind of Avengers-related feature animation for this week’s Kids Film Friday. Here’s what I found.

Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow

Like Muppet Babies, with superpowers.

Okay, so Earth’s Mightiest Heroes have all coupled-up and popped out sprogs. Tony Stark built a robot he called Ultron, which became self-aware and decided to take over the world. While trying to destroy Ultron, The Avengers were all killed* except for Hulk (who wasn’t there) and Iron Man (who was ordered by Cap to get their kids to a secret refuge). Twelve years later, Tony is a hippy and is raising these four “adopted” mini-superheroes as if they were his own. There were actually five kids, but he left baby Hawkeye behind. One too many bourbons that morning, Tony? Anyway, Stark has built robotic replicas of his dead teammates which have been programmed to help destroy Ultron. They get activated by accident one day and go off to start a fight. Ultron infects them with a computer virus that reprograms them to his side, leaving one old man and four barely-teenagers to accomplish what The Actual Avengers couldn’t manage. Freudian nightmares ensue.

Fourteen. Years. Old. Not cool.

Wow. I have never seen a cartoon quite like this before. This was a straight-to-video release back in 2008 as part of Marvel’s series of animation features they put out with Lionsgate. So far, it’s also the only one of that series that I have seen. On the strength of this I doubt I’ll be seeking out the others. It’s not bad as such, it’s just weird. I may have mentioned this before in another column, but I’m not a big comic fanatic. My collection – if you can even call it that – consists of about seven or eight assorted graphic novels and an original 1968 Batman issue 200 (thanks again, sis), which means that my Marvel knowledge comes mostly from the films along with a bit of online reading, mostly about the films. I’ll need someone else to tell me if the old hippy Tony is accepted canon or was just plucked out of Stan Lee’s derriere as a set up for this Next Gen stuff, but I’m having difficulty rationalising that version of the character next to RDJ’s quippy billionaire playboy. Also, seeing Hulk as a geezer was slightly jarring. A massive green rage monster with white hair, a receding hairline and a straggly beard? Hmm.

It might be time to start thinking about that bus pass, Tony.

So here’s where I had a few problems with this story: firstly, the prologue is Tony telling the kids a bedtime story when they’re maybe two years old. But the bedtime story is all about HOW THEIR PARENTS WERE VIOLENTLY KILLED BATTLING A MEGALOMANIACAL ROBOT! Seriously?! Whatever happened to The Little Engine That Could? Secondly, there’s the fact that each of the kid-vengers ends up fighting the robot version of their own dead parent, to the death. Isn’t there a proverb or something about not becoming a man until you’ve killed your father? Something like that, I think. Regardless though, that’s some pretty heavy subtext for a kids cartoon.

Next: the animation. The quality itself is just a hair to the north of Saturday-morning-cartoon standard (much as you would expect for what was probably a low-budget quickie) but there are one or two inconsistencies, particularly when it came to the scale of the Iron Avengers. When they are activated, they go striding past the kids and look about 20 feet tall, yet later at the big fight they vary between that same 20 feet in some cases, and in others they seem almost the same size as the kid they are fighting. It’s a small niggle, I know, but it’s the attitude behind it that makes it a problem for me. It signifies either a disregard for the internal logic of the story, or a disregard for the intended audience, both of which I find unacceptable.

Black Panther and Storm have a child together. That child’s superpower is conjuring a giant panther, made of lightning. But of course it is.

The biggest issue of all though is in the story itself. Let me break it down again really quickly: [Yarrgh!] Thanks Cap’n. So, Ultron killed The Avengers. Ultron is regarded as being invincible. A handful of teenagers (superpowered teenagers, yes, but still) lure Ultron and a bunch of extremely powerful other robots that mirror the powers and skills of the original Avengers to the desert with the intention of destroying them all. Five kids and Hulk succeed where The freaking Avengers failed, while Tony stands around and does nothing. If Hulk could just rip Ultron in two, why didn’t they get him the first time round? How many people across the world died while Ultron was ruling the planet for more than 12 years, just because Bruce Banner was being a pussy in a cave in the desert? I find that a bit hard to swallow. [Spoilers be gone, yarrgh!]

The voice cast are all fine. The producers hired actual voice actors instead of stunt-casting a big name in one or two roles, and some of the adult cast pull double (or even triple) duty on multiple characters, without any issues. I did have a problem with the representation of Tony as a guilt-ridden old man, but in fairness, that could just be the RDJ effect again. Old Bruce and Old Betty were kind of sweet though. Overall, I suppose this could be quite entertaining for the younger or less demanding Avengers fan in your family. Just try not to think too deeply about it.

*Can’t be that f@#!ing mighty then, can they?


  1. Bubbawheat · April 21, 2012

    I haven’t seen this one, but I have seen a few of Marvel’s other animated movies. The Ultimate Avengers 1 and 2 are both decent. Planet Hulk is probably the best if you can get over the fact that the Hulk in that movie is actually somewhat intelligent and there is no sign of Bruce Banner. I’ve seen a couple others, but they’re not that memorable.

  2. AndyWatchesMovies · April 21, 2012

    The Avengers series called Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is actually really damn good. It’s hard to stop watching, actually. It was on Netflix Instant as of a month or two ago, check it out if you haven’t already.

    • Ryan McNeely · April 21, 2012

      Might do, thanks for the tip. I was watching the old Spiderman and his Amazing Friends cartoon the last couple weeks. That’s a double-barrel nostalgia hit right there

      • AndyWatchesMovies · April 21, 2012

        Yeah, I’ve watched that…Spent some time with the 90s X-Men and Spider-Man cartoons. I love Netflix.

      • ginjaninja78 · April 21, 2012

        I loved Spidey and his Amazing Friends. Purely because I loved Firestar

      • Ryan McNeely · April 21, 2012

        Me too. I think Firestar may have been my first crush.

  3. fernandorafael · April 21, 2012

    Great (and very funny) review. I didn’t even know this thing existed before reading. You learn something new every day!

  4. Mike Gaines · May 18, 2012

    That was a good movie, how I the bruce banner a pussy his whole life has been riened by the hulk and the reason they had them fight the parent was to show that they’re stronger, think about it if Earth’s Mightiest Heros had kid with one another wouldn’t they be stronger than the origanal.

    • Ryan McNeely · May 18, 2012

      That’s a fair point, but the fact they defeated their robo-parents and then Ultron so easily made the original Avengers look a bit crap.

Go ahead, punk. Make my day.

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