The Avengers finally get the animated series treatment they deserve in Disney/Marvel’s The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the new animated show that helps put Marvel Comics’ most famous collection of superheroes on par with their respective rivals DC Comics and Warner Bros. I think a lot of comic book fans (myself included) were leery when Disney bought Marvel, as many thought future productions of their most famous faces would have their wings clipped for general audiences. But as they so often are, the nerds were proven wrong with a stellar effort that not only brings out the very best of the whole crew, but is easily one of the best animated shows on television right now. This brings me to The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Vol. 1, which collects the first seven episodes onto one budget-priced DVD collection.
The series starts off with five episodes that showcase the personalities of Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, and Ant / Giant Man in their own single adventures. After seeing how they fare in their own, we’re treated to the real start of the series at the end of the DVD in the episodes “The Breakout Part One and Two”, in which hundreds of super villains escape from four different prisons around the world. Nick Fury, the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., tries to contain the threat along with Iron Man’s help, but it is too much for them, leading them to find other heroes that can help. Of course this leads to Ant/ Giant Man and his girlfriend (he’ll never admit it though) Wasp, Thor, and The Hulk coming into the picture, forming what will be the start of The Avengers. With the team partly assembled, they set out to round the villains up and put them back where they belong – prison.
The things that make the series stand out are the same things that made hit comic book shows like Justice League awesome, it tells great stories with a great set of characters. There’s also plenty of fantastic action-packed into the series as well, something I was actually surprised about with the show being from Disney. There are plenty of times when big guys like the Hulk and Thor have struck powerful blows to baddies (a perfect example is Thor flinging his hammer at a foe’s face or body at blinding speeds) while also being hit with the same kind of blows without Disney cutting away or throwing in those infamous ‘white flashes’ to hide the impact, though they do appear every so often. But the violence on display here is actually pretty amazing, ranking really close to how Justice League pushed it years ago. I was also impressed how much the series tries to tie in with the recent Marvel films, such as featuring a voice actor (Eric Loomis) for Tony Stark/Iron Man that sounds similar to Robert Downey, Jr.’s take on the character.
Disney has done a great job with transfer on this DVD, as the picture and sound are are sharp and crisp as a DVD can get. I can only imagine how spectacular the show would look if/when they decide to release it on Blu-ray in the future (pretty please, Disney?). With seven episodes packed on the disc, it sadly doesn’t leave much room for special features. The only one being a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the show and characters, while also showing a sneak peak at season two of the series, which looks to be even more amazing than the first, if that’s even possible.
I’m really glad Disney and Marvel came together and gave The Avengers the treatment it so deserved, though after viewing The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Vol. 1 on DVD, you’ll wish they’d hurry up with a proper complete season (and Blu-ray) edition was available. While this series may exists to help get fans excited about the upcoming live-action movie that’s due next year, it’s still pretty incredible on its own, and finally gives fans an animated marvel (no pun intended) to rival the best of DC/Warner Bros’ best efforts. I was genuinely impressed with how far Disney allowed the producers to push the violence and storytelling, although never too far that both parents and kids can’t enjoy watching together. It’s just the right balance of comic book action that I highly recommend for everyone to check out.
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Walt Disney Video