Earth's Mightiest Cartoon Heroes

With the premiere of Season 2 of Earth's Mightiest Heroes last week, I thought it best to finally tackle the Avengers' animated incarnations over the years.

I suppose if I were to be really strict about it, my adventures with the Avengers didn't begin when I picked up my very first issue. It began during the last three weeks of my time in Canada as it was then that I caught the first three episodes of Avengers: United They Stand (along with Spider-man Unlimited, which debuted at the same time).

At the time, my knowledge of the Avengers was limited to what I gathered from the trading cards and the only members of the cast familiar to me then were the Wasp, the Scarlet Witch, the Vision, Hawkeye, and the Falcon. Ant-man, Tigra, Wonder Man, and the classic Avengers villains Ultron and Kang were completely alien to me.

We've got ourselves some bulked up bad asses here.
For all that the show was panned by fans and critics alike and did not rate high enough for a second season to commence, I enjoyed those episodes that I managed to catch before flying back to Manila
Maybe it's because I had zero expectations and no attachment or inclination towards the source material whatsoever. Or maybe because I was young and stupid.

I actually like this roster if only because it's made up of some of my favorites.
When I became a fan of the Avengers, this is one of the things that hounded me for years! Where was I to get all the episodes to this?
Enter YouTube, Firefox Portable and the extension VideoDownloadHelper, and the Wimply FLV player - all in 2006! Somebody uploaded majority of the episodes and all I had to do was go to the nearest Internet cafe (didn't have my own broadband connection then), plug my flash disk in, and using all those tools, download the videos and watch them when I get home!

I can't remember why but the uploader was missing some episodes (I think it was the last four) and it wasn't until I stumbled upon a bootleg compilation DVD at a toy fair later that year that I finally got to watch all 13 episodes of the show! And I gotta say: Even with my significantly heightened involvement with the characters by this time, I still enjoyed it! I wouldn't go so far as say the show was even good but I would still love to see what they would've done with season 2!

Speaking of bootleg, around the time that all this was happening came the announcement that they're doing Ultimate Avengers. Once again, Manila was out of the distribution plans (initially) and it took a while before I finally got to see it. Luckily, a relative tipped me about a store in Ali Mall that sells bootleg DVDs of animated shows and movies. I remember going there immediately and was pleasantly surprised that they had a copy of the movie - devoid of special features of course.

Didn't realize they were popular enough to be bootlegged.
I can't remember if I had already read the Ultimates by the time I watched the movie but I was already familiar with the source material enough to know what to expect, and it still blew me away!
I remember getting chills upon watching the first few, introductory scenes alone. For the first time I was watching the classic Avengers lineup with Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Giant-man and the Wasp and, of course, Captain America and even the Black Widow! It's their Ultimate versions, to be sure, but it was still better than nothing!
Production value isn't all that bad either. The animation was superb, the script and the voice actors were spot on, and the music was awesome!

The movie eventually spawned a sequel that I also (initially) got a bootleg of. I wanted to be excited about it, especially since it added an Avenger I rarely saw in the comics let alone in the animated adaptations: the Black Panther; but I found the movie quite lacking. A lot of things just seemed forced - the character tensions, their personal struggles, the supposedly heroic sacrifice at the end. Even the music just didn't tug at my heartstrings as much as the first one did. I really don't know what it is. Maybe it's because it diverged from the source material too much. It was still fun though.

My dad got me a copy of the original DVDs  from the States sometime later and watched  both movies again - with special features this time!
I would've loved to see a couple more sequels, if only to experience more of their adventures outside of the Chitauri. Expand the cast to include their versions of Hawkeye, the Scarlet Witch (fine, Quicksilver too), and the Vision PLUS Kang and Ultron and color me rabid! And since they've already done Wakanda, why not explore Atlantis? Ah, fanboy dreams!

Both DVDs are available at local stores.
Instead of any of that, we got Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow.
Once again, the DVD wasn't made available locally but I managed to get a copy of the movie anyway a few weeks after its release. I remember falling asleep through it the first time I watched it more because I was really tired that day but do I remember enjoying it immensely when I finally got to watch the whole thing!

I wish they had just instead done a second Ultimate Avengers sequel and tied everything up into a nice trilogy OR adapted one of the classic storylines (Kree-Skrull War, Operation: Galactic Storm quickly come to mind) OR, if they really wanted to do an original story, featured these kids' parents - the real Avengers! Why even create a whole new set of characters when we already have the next generation of Avengers from the comics?
Replace the Widow with the Scarlet Witch and this lineup is perfect!
To be fair, though, it was still an enjoyable movie and the soundtrack was just as kicking as the first Ultimate Avengers movie. I guess it also expanded the Avengers mythos just a bit as evidenced when the Next Avengers made their way into the comics by way of the Heroic Age relaunch. Though, I feel their sudden appearance mostly fueled hype as they did practically nothing (I blame the writer)!

At the time of this movie's release in 2008, Marvel was also busy with the first two offerings in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk, which was probably why they featured prominently in the story and on the cover of the DVD.

It's still not available locally.
I had to order my copy from Amazon.ca last year and had it shipped to my grandma who was flying back to Manila. 
In the midst of all this hype came the announcement I've been waiting for since I became a fan:
They were finally working on an Avengers cartoon series featuring the classic team and the classic stories!
I couldn't contain my excitement! I was at the office when the news first broke and I joked with my colleague how I'd be pushing 30 by the time the cartoon hits but I didn't care!

The teaser/test footage above was released (or was it leaked?) along with the news and I was planning to download it (with the tools I enumerated some paragraphs above) but I didn't get to it right away.
By the time I was going to, the footage had already been taken down! The footage would surface again a couple of years later just as the show was about to premiere and I was finally able to download a copy to store in my media player to watch at my leisure!

This clip from SDCC 2010 (also notable for having assembled the Avengers movie cast for the first time) was also the first time we heard the theme song by Bad City, which sounded like a bad idea at first, but I'm one with the all the fans when I say I love it now! Producer Joshua Fine recently responded to a fan's tweet about it saying if we want the full version of the song released, we need to let Marvel know!

The show itself is amazing!
It took a lot of cues from the classic stories and somehow managed to incorporate elements from the newer comics as well as the Marvel movies, and even introduced a few new bold concepts as well (e.g., the connection between Asgard and Nazi Germany preceded the movies)!
For example: The first two episodes combined the original Avengers from the Avengers Vol. 1 No. 1, Graviton from West Coast Avengers No. 1, and the super villain prison breakout from New Avengers Vol. 1 No. 1!
Hulk left the team in issue 3 of the original comics and did so again in episode 3 of EMH!
Meanwhile, Captain America joined the team in issue 4 of the comics and in episode 4 of the series!

Replace Hawkeye with the Widow and we have the cast of Ultimate Avengers 2!
If there's one gripe I have it's that Season 1 just seemed too short. When they said that there's gonna be a microseries preceding the series premiere, I thought the rest of the 26 episodes for the season were gonna be all new stories.
Alas! They compiled the microseries into five of those episodes, leaving me with just 21 new episodes!
Oh well. That's already more than what the previous series had, and we still have Season 2!

As far as the roster is concerned, I have no complaint. This is my ideal line-up, especially with the addition of  the Vision in Season 2. Still no Scarlet Witch though, but Miss Marvel makes for a logical alternative. After all, Wanda only brings magic to the team (something Thor already has) while Carol contributes something new: cosmic power!

One thing I would really love is a Justice League Unlimited approach to the cast!
I first got to watch the show on YouTube because someone managed to upload the episodes, sometimes even way ahead of the US airing! But I'm not gonna go the bootleg route - I'll just wait til the series wraps up later this year and hope they release a complete DVD set of all 2 seasons (unless they make a Season 3 though)!
History repeats itself:  EMH  marketed along with new series Ultimate Spider-man.
Just like when UTS was marketed with Spider-man Unlimited. 
Too bad they don't have toys or games connected to the show.
Apparently that's not the way things are done now.
At least the toy line tied with UTS had a cool Quinjet

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