"The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes - Volume One & Two" DVD Review
April 25, 2011 by James Harvey
It's safe to say that this is the cartoon Marvel fans have been waiting for. The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes brings it all out there, so much of what makes the Marvel Universe such a unique place, and pretty much lays it all out on the table. And, for those having flashbacks of the old The Avengers: United They Stand Fox Kids cartoon, fear not, they hit it out of the park. Yeah, there are just a handful of teensy-tiny issues but, overall, this is a very strong showing for some of Marvel's best heroes, and simply a great new series from Marvel Animation.
When the planet is threatened by super-villains, time traveling conquerors, mythical monsters or mad robots bent on the total destruction of humanity, when the forces of evil are so overwhelming that no single hero has the power to save the world, when there is no hope left… The Avengers assemble! Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Ant-Man, Wasp and The Incredible Hulk! Earth’s Mightiest Heroes must band together to protect the world from a break-out of Super-Villains the likes of which no one has never seen. Only the Avengers can stand against this threat, and the fate of the world rests on their shoulders. Discover their adventures on these new DVD home video releases - The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes - Volume One: Heroes Assemble! and The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes - Volume Two: Captain America Reborn! from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment!
Please note this review will cover both DVD volumes - The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes - Volume One: Heroes Assemble! and The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes - Volume Two: Captain America Reborn! - given the content of each.
As odd as this compliment may sound, I find The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes to be...comforting. It's straight-forward heroics with dynamic, developed characters. The action and stories feel "classic" to me, yet also not out of date. The show feels...genuine. That, to me, is probably the reason why this show has become such a fan-favorite among the comic crowd since its debut. Given some of the dubious treatment of the characters in the comics, the Avengers here feel as they should - heroes to the core. They're called "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" for a reason, and we see it here.
We get all the big guns - like Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk and Thor - plus a few high-class B-listers - like Hawkeye, Giant-Man, Wasp and Black Panther. Together, they make up a pretty much iconic line-up of heroes. While Marvel has their fair share of big-time teams, I can't think of any team more iconic than these guys. To me, when you think 'super-hero team,' you think of The Avengers (and the Justice League). Well, a comic reader like myself does, and hopefully this show will introduce this great gaggle of heroes to a new generation of comic readers.
This show works for me because it hits what I believe is the core truth of the Avengers, that they are the superteam of the Marvel Universe. Yeah, we also have our X-Men and Fantastic Four who go off and have their amazing adventures, but The Avengers are...they are what hold the Marvel Universe together. They are what other heroes strive to be at the end of the day. The X-Men want to be admired like them. Spider-Man looks up to these heroes, they are his idols. And even though this show is just starting, and the team is just coming together here, the creative team behind the show get it. They get what these characters represent on a higher level and in overall status for the Marvel Unvierse. And while they decide to become a team a bit too quickly at the end of "Breakout, Part Two," thankfully they still do take the time in the following episodes to explore how this team will come and work together.
In fact, how the show starts off, with five episodes each composed of four inter-connected vignettes, it allows us to learn about these characters in a gradual fashion, effectively showing us just why these characters belong together. Mix in some backstory, lay the groundwork for future plotlines, and the show starts off on the right foot so, when the team does form, it works. They're not just mushed together, but it feels a bit more natural than that. Of course the full team isn't formed after "Breakout, Part Two," but that's just another charm of the series - it evolves. Yes, The Avengers are born at the end of the first two-parter of the series, but that's not the end of it. New characters appear and join...heck, some even leave, but we do get to the final roster (for now), by the end of the last episode included on these two volumes, and it's a good approach by the creative team. It just allows us to get to know the characters as they get to know each other, which in effect gives the viewer a bit more of a personal stake in the whole thing.
The show isn't about each individual character and their assorted origins, but how they came together to become The Avengers, how they became a team. Yes, we learn about each of these characters, but the underlying theme in all of them is what led to each character becoming an Avenger prevails. We learn what we need to and how that eventually brings each character together.
My beefs with the show are very, very minimal. I found the birth of the Avengers at the end of "Breakout, Part Two" to be a smidgen rushed. It really needed just a couple more minutes just to allow the scene to breathe and move naturally along. And some episodes may be a bit weaker than others here, but overall I don't really have much to complain about. The gelatinous Dough Boy seems a bit too silly as a villain to use in the episode "Living Legend," another little nitpick I have. The writing seems just fine, the characters are all likable, the action well-handled (definitely a step-up from Wolverine and The X-Men, which seemed to suffer from slow action beats), and the stories never boring. Like I said, some episodes are better than others (the two-part "Gamma World" is easily my favorite in the collection), but there's not an out-and-out stinker in the bunch.
The episodes included in these two single-disc volume releases are "Iron Man is Born!," "Thor the Mighty," "Hulk Versus The World," "Meet Captain America," "Breakout, Part One," "Breakout, Part Two" on The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes - Volume One: Heroes Assemble! and "Some Assembly Required," "Living Legend," "Everything is Wonderful," "Panther's Quest," "Gamma World, Part One," "Gamma World, Part Two" on The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes - Volume Two: Captain America Reborn!.
Whether you're a die-hard fan of the comic material, or new to the scene, The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes is definitely worth your time (and, in this case, your money). It has this charm to it, this obvious attention paid to it, that allows it to rise above most of the animated shows that have come from Marvel. While not on par with the likes of The Spectacular Spider-Man, it can proudly stand alongside the likes of Wolverine and The X-Men and the best of the Marvel Animated Features DTVs, and deserves to be added to one's home video collection. The casting is great, the writing is great, the animation is slid, and it all comes together in fine form. The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes comes Highly Recommended.
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (WDSHE) has collected the first thirteen episodes of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes over two separate single DVD releases and, to be honest, much like the animated program itself, there's little to complain about. Packaging is standard Amaray cases snugly tucked in foil-embossed cardboard slipcases. Looks sharp and will stand out on shelves.
Digging in, WDSHE provided what I find to be a satisfying release. In terms of audio and video, you really can't ask for better here. The widescreen transfer on all thirteen episodes, across both discs, is pretty spectacular and near flawless. Yes, there's some slight compression and noticeable aliasing, but you won't see it unless you're looking for it. The colors are bright and vibrant, the blacks are solid, and everything appears smoothe. This is a seriously high-quality transfer, something that seems to becoming a rarity on DVD thanks to Blu-ray. This show will look stunning on your TV and, thankfully, it'll sound just as excellent. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 track is crystal clear and, at times, just thunderous. Action scenes pop and work all the channels, with quieter scenes sounding just as crisp. Crank it up, folks!
Extras are slim but not underwhelming. Outside of the standard collection of trailers (including a trailer for the live-action Thor theatrical film), bonus content consists of two featurettes, totaling fifteen minutes, looking at the second season of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. These featurettes are filled with spoilers, so watch out! Clips from first and second season episodes not yet broadcast come fast and furious, along with production artwork, so if you don't want those ruined....becareful! The featurettes are dubbed "New Looks, New Heroes" and "New Stories, New Threats," and deliver exactly what their names state. Personally, after watching these, I'm really excited for the first season to finish up so we can move ahead with the second. The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes looks to be moving in some pretty interesting directions.
My only gripe is that I wish this WDSHE released a two-disc set as opposed to two single-disc volume releases. The first thirteen episodes in one collection. That seems to be a growing trend among, see the recent Batman: The Brave and The Bold DVD releases, and it would've been nice to see that done here. Outside of that, I have nothing to complain about for these releases. Everything is pretty top-notch across the board when it comes to quality here.
Overall, fans will not want to miss out on The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes - Volume One: Heroes Assemble! and The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes - Volume Two: Captain America Reborn! when they hit shelves. I find these two volumes are the perfect way to introduce new viewers to these great Marvel characters. The stories and characters are accessible, the animation is well-done, and the show never fails to entertain. For comic fans, this is the Marvel Universe cartoon you have been waiting for - no question about it! For those looking for a great access point into the world of Marvel, this is seriously the best place for you to start. Both The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes - Volume One: Heroes Assemble! and The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes - Volume Two: Captain America Reborn! come Highly Recommended, and I recommend you pick up both volumes in order to get the full experience of Marvel's latest and possibly greatest 'toon!
The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes - Volume One: Heroes Assemble! and The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes - Volume Two: Captain America Reborn! arrive on DVD April 26th, 2011 from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.