“You Know, I’m Not So Sure I Wanna Be a Part of a Team I Have to Rescue EVERY Week.”

I recently finished watching the first season of Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

emh

I really enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to watching second season . . . but it just wouldn’t be My Geek Blasphemy if I didn’t post a few criticisms and some deeply insightful fashion analysis.

DISCLAIMER:

Mild spoilers for Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and a little speculation about upcoming Marvel movies.

NOTES:

1. I want to like Wasp, I really do, but I just can’t get past how ineffectual she seems.

wasp

It’s the energy beams, I think. I can see how shrinking down to the size of a bug might be useful for some things, like infiltration or evasion, but I’m not convinced fighting supervillains is one of them. Which is where the energy beams are supposed to come in, only the beams aren’t any bigger than she is, so it always looks like Wasp is throwing a handful of cigarette sparks at a giant monster. Which, hey, I’ve had cigarette sparks land on my arm before, and they hurt. But thing is, I’m not a giant sized monster — I’m not even tall — and my skin isn’t protected by shit. It’s not surprising that the greater majority of bad guys just stand there, unmoved, as she throws the world’s cutest firecrackers at them.

Admittedly, it was pretty cool when Wasp became gigantic that one time. I didn’t even know she could do that. Then again, it was one time, and Ant-Man kind of fills that particular function on the team anyway. (I refuse to call him Giant Man when he becomes giant instead of small. It’s the same fucking guy. Unless his actual personality changes during these transitions, he will continue to be Ant-Man for me.)

I just wish Wasp had some other power or marketable skill or something to fight with — because when a villain taunts her at the end of the season by saying even unpowered Hawkeye is more useful . . . well, I enthusiastically agreed, and I’m not sure I was supposed to.

2. By the way, Hawkeye? TOTALLY my favorite.

hawkeye

Cause, yeah. Despite the fact that his costume is particularly ridiculous, even for a superhero, Hawkeye is AWESOME. He’s funny. He’s always coming to the team’s rescue. And he has lines like this: “Uh, does anyone know how to stop this, whatever it is? There’s an elf here giving me a dirty look.”

I’ve now added Hawkeye: Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon to my ridiculously long To-Read list. I should see if they have it at the library. Man, I wish comic books weren’t so godamned expensive.

3. I like Hawkeye in The Avengers (2012 movie), but he’s certainly not my favorite. (Not surprising, considering Jeremy Renner has probably the least to do.) In the movie, my favorite character is Bruce Banner, and oh, how I love him. So much with the Banner love. Unfortunately for me, Bruce Banner barely exists in EMH. Instead, it’s almost all Hulk, all the time.

hulk

In case The Hulk WITHOUT a massive weapon isn’t intimidating enough.

I mean, I get why. Hulk’s the guy you use in battle, and kids are probably going to be way more into a big angry green guy than some mild mannered scientist. The show even comes up with a halfway-decent explanation for why we rarely ever see Bruce Banner . . . but I still miss the guy, and I can’t help but feel that by taking him out of the equation, we’re kind of losing what’s interesting about the character. The first few episodes where we get a back and forth between Hulk and Banner are actually kind of neat, but after that . . . Bruce is just gone. (It also vaguely annoys me that nobody else on the team seems terribly concerned about this, that no one’s like, man, it sucks that Bruce Banner doesn’t actually get the chance to live. In fact, nobody mentioned him for so long that I honestly thought maybe the other Avengers didn’t know about Hulk’s alter ego for a while. This turned out not to be the case.)

It’s also sad because Gabriel Mann voices Bruce Banner in EMH, and I like Gabriel Mann. He was easily the best part about Revenge, and the only reason I regretted giving up the show in second season.

4. While Bruce Banner is my favorite Avenger in the movie, and Hawkeye is my favorite in the cartoon, Thor apparently remains my least favorite Avenger in either.

thor

Not that Thor doesn’t have a certain charm, but . . . I find Asgard even more boring in EMH than I did in The Dark World. Every time we go back there, I’m like, yawn. Wake me up when something interesting happens. Cause I may not have totally loved The Dark World with all my heart and soul, but it still has one big advantage that EMH clearly does not have:

loki

EMH‘s version of Loki? Yeah, not as impressive.

5. There are a few disparities between the movie I love, which introduced me to our heroes, and this series, which I assume is closer to canon. For one thing, Tony Stark is unequivocally the team leader, not Captain America. For another, it is both hilarious and adorable just how much Tony seems to respect and even idolize Captain America when he shows up. Thank God fanfiction prepared me for that — I’m sure I would have otherwise spit out my soda when Tony said something like, “We all look up to you.”

6. One of the things I really do like about this series is the continuing storyline. Storylines, actually. This isn’t really a standalone, monster-of-the-week type show, at least not entirely. Events from one episode definitely lead into the next, which I think is kind of cool. And the season finale, damn. Way to leave us on a cliffhanger, show. (I mean, the second and last season is also on Netflix, so it won’t take me too long to resolve said cliffhanger, but still.) Not to mention, Nick Fury is still missing. I mean, dude. It’s been, like, episodes.

7. I like T’Challa well enough — he’s very dry, and he has some fairly funny lines — but I had some trouble taking his homeland, Wakanda, very seriously.

t'challa

Maybe it would bother me less if Wakanda was a secret island? I feel like I could buy into that easier than some hidden nation in the middle of Africa that mines all this magical shit. Or maybe it’s because of the magical shit — maybe it hits a wrong chord with me because Wakanda vaguely reminds me of some super secret community of magical negroes? I don’t know if that’s entirely fair, though. After all, the Wakandans have their own problems — they don’t solely exist to help white people with their issues. Maybe I just can’t take any battle for a kingdom seriously if the evil contender for the throne is named Man-Ape.

I wouldn’t mind see T’Challa in a live action movie, one of these days, but I have literally no idea what they do would do for his backstory because I can’t see this playing on a big screen at all.

8. I got my first introduction to Ultron, which was exciting, considering he’s the main villain in the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron. Considering that Ant-Man is scheduled to release AFTER AoU, I think we can safely say that Hank Pym will no longer be his creator. Which worries me because I’m profoundly unenthused by the idea that Ultron might become Tony Stark’s pet project. (He had input in the cartoon, but Ultron is clearly Pym’s baby.)

It makes me a certain level of sense — Stark is, after all, kind of all about robots, and I can see a possible way to link the conclusion of Iron Man 3 to Avengers 2 with this idea — but I also feel like we’ve DONE Tony’s guilt over the terrible weapons he’s created, and I’m not really excited to see that rehashed on an epic scale.

9. It’s funny — when I watched Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, I always had to check IMDb after every episode to figure out who I was listening to, or to confirm I had guessed the actor correctly. It really seemed like there was somebody I knew in every single episode. Just a short list of some of the guest actors on JL and JLU: Jeffrey Combs, Nathan Fillion, Clancy Brown, CCH Pounder, Robert Picardo, Oded Fehr, Gina Torres, J.K. Simmons, Amy Acker, James Remar, Michael Dorn, Lisa Edelstein, Ben Browder, Keith David, Juliet Landau, and — of course — Mark Hamill.

And it’s not that I didn’t like the voice work in EMH — or that I never recognized any of the actors — but I definitely didn’t have that, “Ohmygod, I know that voice, who IS that,” reaction to any of the episodes. This isn’t a criticism of the show, really, just something I noticed. I was amused to realize that the same guy voiced both Ant-Man from EMH and Edward Nygma from the Arkham video games. (Hawkeye is also in the Arkham video games, or at least Chris Cox, who plays him. Unfortunately, Chris Cox voiced Deadshot. I wanted to STRANGLE Deadshot in Arkham Origins.)

10. Finally, we have to talk about worst fashion cause, wow. Obviously there are some terrible costumes on display. Like I said, Hawkeye’s is pretty bad — there’s no doubt about it — but I don’t think anyone can beat out Baron Zemo for Total Fashion Disaster.

zemo

I mean, Good God. What IS that? I can get around the head-to-toe purple and the little crown and the ridiculously giant gold belt, but why in God’s name are you wearing Dalmation fur on your shoulders? AND WHY ARE THERE MATCHING FUR-LINED BOOTS?

Congratulations, Baron Zemo. You and your vaguely Cruella De Vil inspired accessories are the worst.

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10 Responses to “You Know, I’m Not So Sure I Wanna Be a Part of a Team I Have to Rescue EVERY Week.”

  1. Teacups says:

    You inspired me to check this out (I don’t know why, given this review was about things you didn’t like) and it’s pretty watchable. I ended up polishing the whole thing off in about three days.

    Wasp’s uselessness frustrates me also, because I really like her as a character – she’s snarky, cute, fun, and adorably enthusiastic about being a superhero. But yeah, the “stingers,” only seem to be effective when they’re targeted at weak points, like eyes, or when she used them to disable Morduk’s mental wave button thing. (I really liked that storyline, mostly because her and Thor trying to comprehend the Big Giant Head is the greatest thing.) Instead of always aiming for the eyes, most of the time she just fires them willy-nilly at villainous torsos, who like, flinch and then keep fighting. Also like Hulk or Thor, she’s brave to the point where she needs a seminar in Strategic Running Away – like from Hawkeye – but she’s not nearly as indestructible as Hulk or Thor, so it seems pretty damn easy to hurt, KO, or capture her, you know?

    It really bugs me that it is the only female member of the team who has these problems.

    Something I sort of have issues with is her boyfriend’s peaceful, talking-and-rehabilitation-method of dealing with the supervillains. I actually agree with that code-of-ethics in the real world? But in the world of the show it’s a pretty idiotic position to take, ’cause most of the villains they face are of the completely unsympathetic, I-laugh-evilly-while-I-eat-nutritious-puppies-for-breakfast sort. Do you think you’d ever be able to rehabilitate Baron Zemo, Morduk, and so on? Also, there’s shit like him wanting to talk things out with villains who are holding hostages – not to protect the hostages, but so they wouldn’t have to beat up – not even kill – the villains. It makes him seem stupid and spectacularly naive.

    So when he’s arguing about methods of dealing with criminals with Jan, or anyone else who just wants to beat them up and lock them away from the normal folk, it feels too close to a strawman version of the same debate in real life, which has quite a different set of criminals. I don’t know if they were trying for that so much as trying to represent the pacifist viewpoint and doing it poorly, but yeah.

    I am disappointed that the credits will change in the second season, and we’ll get narration instead of the theme song. I think the current credits sequence is pretty awesome, even if the lyrics maybe aren’t.

    • Teacups says:

      Oh, I should clarify that in spite of these issues (and not finding him to be a terribly effective superhero either, even if it isn’t as obvious as it is with Wasp) I do like Hank. He’s so so earnest and nerdy about his science, and sweet and oddly pretty. I just wish they’d modified his sense of ethics, which I admire in many ways, to be more realistic for a superhero show, or this superhero show at least. EMH’s depiction of morality isn’t exactly The Wire, you know?

      • Teacups says:

        Have you finished Season 2? I have. It was enjoyable, if not as good as Season 1.

        Wasp continues to be the most adorable and useless superhero. (Also, I realised that grabbing her should be a completely ineffective battle tactic, because she would just point-blank blast the villains’ hands – but she gets taken out or immobilized frequently via that move. So her being damselified in all those scenes isn’t even logically sound… This bugs me more than it should.) Ms. Marvel is cool, but unfortunately doesn’t get a whole lot of focus or screentime either.

        I was pissed off that in Vision’s Heel Face Turn episode, she had Ultron kidnapping her to try to make her into his Cyberwoman girlfriend, and the episode wasn’t even about her a little bit. She didn’t get any thrilling heroics, or to kick Ultron’s ass, or discover cool new powers, or grow as a person, and I am confused as to why we needed that extreme Cyberwoman creepiness in the first place.

        My friend and I were chatting about this issue of lone female members of various fighty casts also being the weakest, and the unfortunate implications that carries, and concluded that a good solution to this issue would be getting more female characters on these teams in the first place. I mean, maybe they’d all be as weak? But I doubt it, because that’d be too noticeable.

        I did think they started humanizing the villains more, which pleased me a great deal. There was that great episode with Madame Viper, the one where the Avengers had to team up with the prisoners to fight off space bugs, Vision’s character, and even that one AIM minion who asked “Wait, Mr. Totallynotaskrull, why are we building a device that’s going to wipe out every human on the planet when that includes us?”

        The strong focus on Thor and Captain America got on my nerves. Especially in that episode where they lost all their powers until Thor learned how to be humble or some shit. That was such a children’s show plot. It didn’t even make sense! Their (and Iron Man’s) powers came from totally different sources, so a single spell shouldn’t have been able to disable them all. Iron Man especially – he has smarts and technology instead of superpowers, so it takes his tech-genius and gives him a crappier suit? The same spell that makes a demigod into a normal human? I know it’s a superhero cartoon, but Jesus.

        • I am embarrassingly close to finishing second season. I think I have about five episodes to go. Somehow, I got distracted . . . probably because of all the Teen Wolf marathoning and fanfiction. Just last week, I was like . . . uh . . . I finished EMH, right? I must have finished it? Nope. So, I will actually read the majority of your comment after I finish the series. (And then maybe I’ll bounce over Young Justice. I was kind of curious about that, and the first season is on Netflix Instant.)

    • I do love Wasp’s enthusiasm for being a superhero. I liked her right off the bat, but some of my frustration with her powers has made it hard for me to remember that. It probably would bother me less if she wasn’t the only female on the team.

      I do actually disagree with you, at least a little, on Hank’s ethics, but I’m having trouble articulating WHY that is. Maybe because it seems consistent with his character — like he always seemed a little uncomfortable with the whole thing, so I really liked when he walked off the team (at least for a little while) because he had to stick to his guns — so to speak — about the violence bad, redemption good stuff. Or maybe I’m just happy that it’s not the woman who’s bringing it up for once. I do know I liked that particular role reversal with Wasp and Ant-Man. I’ll have to see how it all plays out in second season and see if his morality starts bothering me. (Frankly, it’s kind of surprising that it hasn’t already — pacifism is not my favorite character trait in a superhero. Maybe Hank’s sweet neediness is just winning me over here.)

      I’m only a few episodes into second season — I blame ‘Welcome to Night Vale’ for my lack of progress — but I deeply miss the opening credits of first season.

      • Teacups says:

        I know another female superhero joins the team in Season 2. Hopefully she won’t have the same issues.

        Yeah, I don’t have a problem with it as part of his characterization, I just feel like they’re representing this code of ethics poorly, and since it’s one I share, that bugs me. Like when a show tries to do a special feminist episode about how sexism is bad, and then they fuck it up and end up making feminists look bad. No Ordinary Family and The Newsroom are the biggest offenders I’ve seen. I don’t find Hank nearly as bad, thank god, or I would have difficulty watching his scenes without weeping and gnashing my teeth and then writing an essay about the show after.

        I had not heard of Welcome To Night Vale, so I looked it up, and it sounds like it might be great? It also uses music by The Mendoza Line at some point, which pleases me.

        • I am already incredibly happy with the new female superhero. I like her a lot. And it makes Wasp less irritating for me, too, because I don’t need EVERY female superhero to have the bestest powers ever. I just don’t like it when there’s only one female superhero, and she’s kind of useless. Cute and enthusiastic, but useless.

          I can definitely see that. It probably does bother me less because I don’t consider myself a pacifist or . . . an anti-pacifist? There must be an actual word for that, one that reads a little less biased than ‘warmonger’ or something. English degree fail. Anyway, it’s not a code of ethics I feel as strongly about, one way or the other. But I think you’re probably right — the writing could be a lot sharper in that regard. (I saw one episode of The Newsroom and felt so-so about it, figuring I might get back to the show eventually, and then never did. I saw one scene of No Ordinary Family and had a little trouble believing it ever got on air in the first place.)

          I think Welcome to Night Vale is pretty awesome. It hits a perfect note of sweet absurdity. I will have to listen out for The Mendoza Line, who I know nothing about.

      • Teacups says:

        I’m about halfway through Season 2 now, and I like her too – love the scenes after she joins where everyone’s just enjoying themselves and ribbing her for being the rookie. She definitely seems like much more of a heavy hitter than Wasp is, and yeah, that makes Wasp’s lack of fighting prowess easier to take.

        I don’t know the term either, but I know the sort of view you’re talking about.

        Memories of No Ordinary Family lead me to constantly worry that the showrunners might eventually bring that kind of bland crappiness to Arrow.

        I listened to the first two episodes of Welcome To Night Vale in the car this morning and fell in love at first sound, thanks to that opening spiel about the new dog park. The whole thing is so creepy, weird, funny, and full of such terrific dialogue that I want to murder the writers and steal it all. No one would ever know!

    • Teacups says:

      Argh, I meant to add that I don’t think I’m quite a pacifist. I’m against unnecessary violence. What counts as “necessary,” varies from person to person, obviously. For me it’s self-defence, or in defence of others – and that includes theoretical future others, if the risk is substantial. Like, if I were Batman, I think, ethically, I should kill the Joker (whether I’d be able to, I don’t know) because otherwise he’ll obviously just keep escaping to carry on with his murdery supervillainy, and I’d have given up the oppotunity to prevent that. Which doesn’t seem very pacifist?

      But I do believe that trying to redeem criminals, especially new, unhardened ones, is better than just keeping them away from the rest of the population for life. And I don’t believe in putting someone away to punish them for what they did, not for it’s own sake. To rehabilitate them or discourage others to do the same thing, sure – because if no one faced consequences for their criminal acts, there would obviously be much more crime. Just not to give the the victim or the community retribution, which is part of the current justice system.

      I probably should have made that distinction earlier. 😕

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