I've dreaded this day ever since I went to the Ultimate Spider-Man press junket and got the sense that nobody wanted to actually talk about Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes and continually hyped Ultimate Spider-Man as being the first cartoon "by Marvel, for Marvel." I even pressed Disney execuitives about the absolute no-brainer of making sure there was a Season 3 of A:EMH, and I got this noncommittal answer with a look that pretty much said 'that's not going to happen.' I am even quoted on the back of the A:EMH Season 1 Vol. 3 set saying that this is the best Marvel animated series of all time.
Now, the day I have feared has come to pass. while still holding onto the last chunk of Season 2 episodes to air, Marvel is officially not renewing Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes for a third season. Instead, they'll be introducing a new series in 2013, presumably also "by Marvel, for Marvel," called Avengers Assemble.
What is the correct response to this news?
Yes, we saw what Marvel wanted to do – intertwine their cartoons just the same way they did their movies – and yes, we knew Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes had started after this plan really had congealed and yes, it's blatant common wisdom that Marvel would want their Avengers cartoon to closely echo the movies instead of being such a fantastically respectful and faithful adaptation of the comics those movies are built on. We just hoped and hoped and hoped that the high quality of the show might allow it to stand on its own as an exception to Marketing 101.
However, the fact that an upcoming Avengers: EMH episode guest-starring Spider-Man originally featured the voice talents of Josh Keaton, who portrayed the wall-crawler in Spectacular Spider-Man (coincidentally, another animated series considered the best ever for Spider-Man, which was also cancelled to make way for Disney's USM show), had his work dubbed over by Drake Bell, who voices Peter Parker in USM was a very clear sign that there was trouble in the offing. And the trouble has arrived. Fans of Wolverine and the X-Men, yet another 'best Marvel show ever' contender (and one which takes place in the same universe as this one) which was prematurely canceled, will hopefully commiserate, even though A:EMH got two seasons to their one.
Dammit, Marv, this was your best animated show ever. I'm not exaggerating. It's featured awesome Doom, a great Skrull infiltration and the freakin' Guardians of the Galaxy. All the stuff comic fans love. And now, we have to brush that aside and make room for what the movie fans like.
Ultimate Spider-Man has its moments, but it's just so damn… Disney in its cheeky ain't-we-cuteness. We can likely assume that Avengers Assemble is going to have that same occasionally funny, usually grating tone about it, and thus, we can think the same of the upcoming Hulk: Agents of S.M.A.S.H. – although we were prepared for that because there's an organization called S.M.A.S.H. involved.
So, the new show. It's the movie lineup plus Falcon (said to be involved in Captain America 2), and rumor has it that Hank Pym and Black Panther will show up later in the series.Small consolation – the upcoming Season 2 A:EMH episodes have some of the best Wakandan action ever to hit any screen (try hard enough, and you can find them online, as they've already aired overseas). Maybe Avengers Assemble will be good. But dollars to donuts it won't be Earth's Mightiest Heroes good. At least it stands a chance at having a better theme song.
And now, we're probably NEVER going to get these two seasons on blu-ray, either. Damn it.