The success of the Avengers movie brought so much good into the nerd world. We had the promise of much riskier movies being put into production like Dr. Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy. There was a Lego Quinjet and a great Hulk minifig. Joss Whedon was working on an uncancelable S.H.I.E.L.D. show. Also some dumb video game, BUT overall the nerd world looked a lot better post-Avengers. There just was one problem.
At the same time as The Avengers movie came out, Marvel also had an Avengers cartoon called Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. And even though it was also about the Avengers, it seemed to be following a different narrative. The characters had different back stories. It took more of its mythology from the comic books than from the movies. And thus, it had to die. Sometime in 2013, Avengers Assemble will take its place and it may be just as good. Who knows? Maybe it will be better. I don’t remember anyone thinking EMH would be the next great nerd cartoon, but it sure was. The stories moved quickly and the characters were serious when seriousness was required, but always also quick with a joke. Out of respect for its untimely demise, let us now take a look back at the fantastic writing of Avengers: EMH and specifically its excellent comebacks.
7. Thor Thinks at Absorbing Man.
So in episode thirteen of season one, entitled Gamma World Part 2, the Mighty Thor seemed to be at the mercy of the Uru powered (and horribly named) Absorbing Man. AM had absorbed Thor’s Mighty Mjolnir giving him possession of all the powers of Thor and he even made his fists into little hammers. “Fight back!” Absorbing Man yelled in between seemingly beating Thor to death. But Thor did not fight back. Thor calmly retorted “I cannot, for I am concentrating.”
It happens just like you expect. Thor controls the Uru Absorbing Man and throws him right back at The Leader and The Leader is very surprised because he didn’t realize Thor controlled the hammer mentally. He probably just assumed Mjolnir, like Cap’s shield, was the world’s most physically inconsistent boomerang. While fans of Thor saw this one coming from a mile away, the specific line was both badass and clever given the present situation. It gracefully illustrated the duality of the way EMH wrote Thor. He is an uber-badass who speaks in girly Shakespearean language, but EMH always managed to make Thor sound great.
This isn’t the first time Thor and AM have fought in a cartoon. In the now ancient Mighty Thor cartoon, Absorbey tried to do the same exact thing but in that instance, Thor just pulled the hammer back explaining “It must always return to me. It is pre ordained.” The EMH line is streets ahead of that nonsense.
P.S. The old cartoon gets even dumber because Absorbing Man then neutralizes the hammer by throwing it into some bricks and Thor doesn’t pull it back that time because…you know…bricks?
6. Nick Fury is Way Ahead of You.
First published in 2008, Secret Invasion was a Marvel event during which an alien army of shapeshifters, known as the Skrull, were discovered to have secretly replaced several Marvel characters with Skrull sleeper agents. The result was the kind of intense finger pointing and rhetorical “No, you are the evil monster!” that rarely exists outside of the Bravo network. EMH spent the beginning half of the second season doing a mini-Secret Invasion and some of the Marvel super geniuses were suspicious. Dr. Doom seemed to figure it out first. Resident super-spy Nick Fury wasn’t far behind.
In episode seven of season two, entitled Who Do You Trust?, Nick Fury revealed to Iron Man that he had left S.H.I.E.L.D., watched a few episodes of Charlie’s Angels, and formed his own team of three female asskickers to figure this Skrull thing out. Once Iron Man understood what was going on, he pointed the finger of accusation back at Fury saying “How do I know you aren’t a Skrull” to which the super-spy replied in true super-spy fashion, “Now you’re getting it.” This is why we love Nick Fury. That line was perfect for the situation and was just overflowing with badassness. Until this point, Nick Fury hadn’t done too much. He was in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D., but all they seemed to do was supervise breakout after breakout and get in the Avengers’ way. This episode showed Nick Fury doing what Nick Fury does best: not trusting people.
5. The Wasp Stings M.O.D.O.K.
M.O.D.O.K. should stand for Mental Organism Designed Only for Komedy; every time he shows up, he is the butt of a big joke. He is the Avengers villain equivalent of Dr. Zoidberg, and boy do we love him. EMH brought him into the picture for a couple of episodes. In his first, he was accidentally creating Wonder Man when Thor and Wasp stopped him. Wasp is always the first to crack a joke and Thor is usually all business but not today. Thor was making jokes about M.O.D.O.K.’s big head left and right. His best was “He has the head of a frost giant on an infant’s body.”
The best comeback came after M.O.D.O.K. incapacitated Thor with mental bolts and, being a super-intelligent being, completely forgot about Wasp. (Let’s be honest, until I mentioned her in the list, you forgot about her too.) With Thor out of commission, M.O.D.O.K. gloated “Even the mind of a so called immortal is no match for M.O.D.O.K.” to which Wasp responded “Yeah? Well the moon is no match for your head.”
It was quite a sick burn from the Wasp, indeed. EMH wrote Wasp as a spunky adventurer who just enjoyed the ride. Her character represented how fans would react if we suddenly got the ability to fly and shoot hand lasers. And as the only girl on the team, for a while, she was forced to call it like it is. Besides, M.O.D.O.K.’s head is like the moon, if the moon dressed up like Elvis sometimes.
4. Groot Introduces Himself.
EMH knew how important it was to never forget its roots. During the episode Michael Korvac, the Avengers ended up in a fight with the Guardians of the Galaxy, and like every fight involving the Avengers and another group of guys, everyone broke off into individual fights based on who was most alike. Iron Man fought Quasar. Hawkeye fought Starlord. Since the Avengers were one man down, Hulk had to fight Groot the living tree and Rocket Raccoon by himself. After seemingly clapping Groot to oblivion, Hulk was about to do the same to Rocket Raccoon when something started appearing behind Hulk. It was Groot, reforming.
There are a lot of comebacks that can be used when killing someone who thinks they just killed you. I assume Arnold Schwarzenegger knows most of them. Groot knows only one. “I am Groot,” said Groot as he punched Hulk through the floor. Fans of Guardians of the Galaxy know that Groot, while very intelligent, can only say that one phrase. It is theorized that his vocal chords are, like tree bark, too rigid to make more than one sound. He uses intonation to give his phrase new meaning. In this specific instance, the intonation seemed to be along the angrier lines, which makes sense, because did Hulk just plan to kill him?
Either way, this is the first time Groot appeared on any show ever and he did not disappoint. EMH was always great for introducing interesting lesser known characters in one-off episodes and it seems like if they do well, they get live-action movies. Now where is the Beta Ray Bill movie? Sarah Jessica Parker isn’t going to be around forever.
3. Sarcasm Pays for Luke Cage.
The other great one-off of the series involved the Heroes for Hire, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Ex-Ant Man, Hank Pym, hired the duo to track down the master-criminal (but mostly janitor) Scott Lang, who stole the Ant Man suit and was using it to steal money (very unsuccessfully). Once they found him, Scott convinced the group to help him rescue his daughter from the evil Cross. Upon arriving at Cross’ warehouse, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and a costumeless Pym got stopped by Cross’ goons and were asked, “Who are you three supposed to be? The Avengers?” Luke Cage replied “Yeah. We’re the Avengers. I’m Captain America. My friend in the pajamas is Thor.”
With this comeback Luke Cage proved to be aware of how goofy the concept of Avengers actually is. In its eternal wisdom,EMH made sure to give almost everyone their original costume, no matter how sleeveless and purple they might be, as a nod to the comics that came before them. It was a classy move but it was even more fun when some the characters on the show thought other characters’ costumes were silly. And all of this coming from a guy with a chain for a belt. Sweet Christmas!
2. Mr. Fantastic Gets up Close with Iron Man.
Season two started with an episode calledThe Private War of Dr. Doom. It kicked off with a bunch of memorable moments, like Dr. Doom wrecking everyone and Hulk swinging The Thing around like he was having a Ben Grimm-pillow fight with Doom Bots. While most of the Avengers were playing cards with Thing and Human Torch, Iron Man and Wasp visited the Richardses. Wasp and Invisible Woman had some girl talk featuring lines like “Men are dumb,” while Mr. Fantastic and Iron Man talked shop. Because Reed was ignoring Tony, Tony decided to let Mr. Fantastic know that he would be glad to take Sue off his hands to see if he could get a reaction. Mr. Fantastic promptly stretched his head all the way over to Iron Man and said “I can think of fourteen different ways to seal you in that armor.” Then they both laughed.
It was a cool way to write these characters very specifically. EMH reminds everyone that while Tony was still a cocky playboy and Reed was still a jealous nerd, they were both friends. It also led to the first time I have heard a character on a kids show threaten to satisfy another character’s wife. Girlfriend maybe; never wife. But EMH was all about breaking down boundaries. I also really liked this exchange because I have never seen Tony throw this particular gauntlet down in any TV shows or comic books before, but it makes perfect sense. He loves the ladies, and Invisible Woman is one of those ladies. Reed’s comment was funny but proved that he would never let anyone take Sue…except for Dr. Doom, who takes her five minutes later.
1. Cap Teaches Hulk a Lesson.
In Hail Hydra, Hulk and Cap are in the street fighting Hydra robots together. Hulk blows up giant-skull-tentacle-robot after giant-skull-tentacle-robot and Cap, after blowing up a giant-skull-tentacle-robot himself, mentions to Hulk that he should probably watch out for civilians. Hulk reads way too far into it and asks Cap if he thinks Hulk is a monster then Cap says my favorite line of the series, “In my day we had a name for people like you: hero.”
I’ll be honest. It was corny. In EMH. Captain America was written in a way that made him sound so corny that the other characters on the show often thought it was a bit much. But more than being incredibly unbelievably corny, it was cute. Cap explained that he thought Hulk was a real hero and Hulk smiled and got back to carelessly blowing up giant-skull-tentacle-robots.
Yes, the line about Hulk being a hero was corny – because it was for the kids. After a while, you could forget that EMH was still a kid’s show. It was a cartoon about superheroes but it was so well written and the plots were so clever and full of so much Marvel comic history that it never seemed like “just another kids show”.
And when it did seem like one, that wasn’t a bad thing either. Corny, heartfelt lines made you remember what being a kid and watching these cartoons on Saturday morning was all about and that’s great. There are more and more kids shows popping up that entertain adults while reminding them what it was like to be a kid. Lets hope Avengers Assemble follows Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ lead.