REVIEW: AGENT CARTER – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST
Hayley Atwell (Cinderella)
James D’Arcy (Hitchcock)
Chad Michael Murray (House of Wax)
Enver Gjokaj (Dollhouse)
Shea Whigham (American Hustle)
RECURRING AND NOTABLE GUEST CAST
Dominic Cooper (Dracula Untold)
Lyndsy Fonseca (Kick-Ass)
James Frain (Gotham)
James Landry Hebert (Looper)
Meagen Fay (Species 4)
Ray Wise (Robocop)
Ralph Garman (Ted)
Bridget Regan (Beauty and the Beast 2012)
Jack Conley (Angel)
Neal McDonough (Arrow)
Leonard Roberts (Heroes)
Rick Peters (Veronica Mars)
Ralph Brown (Alien 3)
Toby Jones (The Hunger Games)
Considering it was a 1940s period piece starring an already-established, likable character and was created by the guys who wrote Captain America: The Winter Soldier, you’d think people would have been more excited going into Marvel’s Agent Carter. Not that I didn’t see plenty of excitement as well, mind you, but I also saw a lot of cynicism – stuff about how it was a “prequel” and thus “wouldn’t matter” and also about how because Peggy and the other characters didn’t have superpowers, “Who cares?”But Agent Carter didn’t need to succeed by setting up something to pay off in another film it just needed to be an entertaining, involving show. And boy, was it.
Yes, it only got better as it went along, but Agent Carter — which came from executive producers/showrunners Michele Fazekas & Tara Butters — was a lot of fun from the start. Hayley Atwell had already established how great she is as the character and easily slid into the lead role, and pairing her with Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy) was an inspired move. Atwell and D’Arcy had terrific, non-romantic, chemistry together, playing Peggy and Jarvis as an instantly lovable, quirky duo and making the scenes where Jarvis accompanied Peggy on missions really pop – even before Peggy got to beat up bad guys.
With only eight episodes, Agent Carter moved quickly, in a satisfying manner. Bridget Regan was introduced as Peggy’s neighbor, Dottie, and just a week later – with fans already speculating on what her character could really be – she’s killing a guy, leading into a really awesome reveal that Agent Carter was introducing the Black Widow program into the mix.

Agent Carter wasn’t tied into the modern Marvel movies in a direct way, but there were a ton of cool connections throughout, beyond Peggy’s important history with Captain America. Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), while only appearing in three episodes, was crucial to the story, and we got an intriguing look into his psyche in the season finale.
Dum Dum Dugan and the Howling Commandos showed up, we got to see more than one Black Widow at work and then there was Dr. Ivchenko, AKA Fr. Fennhoff – who is also known as the Marvel villain Dr. Faustus and who turned out to be tied into the Winter Soldier by the end, via a cool Marvel-movie type final scene.
In general, all the characters were really clicked. It was surprising to see Lyndsy Fonseca play a non-action role here, but she made Angie incredibly likable and charismatic and the scenes between her and Peggy were very sweet, showing Peggy making a far more normal connection than her life usually allows. Early on, I was concerned by the portrayal of the men at the SSR. Except for Enver Gjokaj’s sympathetic Daniel Sousa, they all felt pretty one note. Yes, it was important and fitting, given the era the show was set in, to show just how dismissive the guys in the office, in general, were of Peggy, unable to see just how skilled she was and the contributions she could bring. But the first couple of episodes had Thompson (Chad Michael Murray), Dooley (Shea Wigwam) and Krzeminski (Kyle Bornheimer) all feeling pretty similar and one-note, in a way that could have quickly become grating. Fortunately, the most annoying of this bunch, Krzeminski, was soon dead and Dooley and Thompson became much more nuanced as the season continued.
Dooley doing his own investigating and seeing that things didn’t ad up as  Howard Stark being the culprit was a great touch, letting us see why this guy was in charge in the first place. And the mission in Russia in “The Iron Ceiling”(a standout episode) gave us a ton of insight into Thompson and who he really was versus the image he projected. The season culminated in a very satisfying manner, with Dooley’s noble sacrifice, the reason behind Fennhoff’s anger at Howard revealed and a big cathartic release for Peggy, who got to beat Dottie in combat and finally really and truly put Steve Rogers to rest. This latter part was especially handled well and reinforced something that had been occurring to me all season – that it was especially silly to dismiss Agent Carter as “a prequel” when, if anything, it worked as a pretty direct sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger, simply following what happened next for Peggy (and, to a lesser extent, Howard) after that film’s events, instead of Steve.
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REVIEW: CAPTAIN AMERICA (1966)

CAST (VOICES)

Sandy Becker (The Beagles)
Paul Kligman (Spider-Man 60s)
Paul Soles (The Score)
John Vernon (Dirty Harry)
Bernard Cowan (20,000 Leagues Under The Sea)
Peg Dixon (Strange Paradise)
Chris Wiggins (Babar)

The graphics during the cheesy but patriotic and memorable opening theme tune are a clue to what to expect from this 1966 cartoon series. Basically it is a cartoon version of several tales involving Captain America taken from the early years of Tales of Suspense and The Avengers.


It was great to see animated versions of several of Cap’s early triumphs, well animated in the sense of moving comic book images. Included here are several tales set in WWII involving The Red Skull who wears a sanitised version of the costume he wore in the original comic and Adolf Hitler’s role in the Skull’s origin has oddly been replaced by some generic Nazi figure. These tales also feature Cap’s sidekick Bucky Barnes. From the 1960’s C.A. takes on Batroc and the Red Skull again with his Sleepers and the Cosmic Cube, featuring A.I.M.


It also includes several tales from The Avengers. There is an edited version of Cap’s silver age re-appearance in Avengers #4 (minus the Sub-Mariner’s role) the other tales involve Zemo and his Masters of Evil (The Black Knight, Radioactive Man and the Melter), the Commissar, Super Adaptoid, Enchantress and Power-Man and ending with the Sworsdman and the Mandarin. Several versions of the Avengers are seen with Thor, Iron Man, Giant-Man and The Wasp, Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch….. even Rick Jones and Jarvis. The only downside of the Avengers tales is the daft voice given to Giant-Man. Just watch how the Wasp’s costume changes over even this short period of time. All 13 episodes are included here and I highly recommend it, just don’t expect Pixar quality animation

REVIEW: ULTIMATE AVENGERS 1 & 2

 CAST (VOICES)

Justin Gross (Texhnolyze)
Grey DeLisle (The Replacements)
Michael Massee (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Marc Worden (Batman Beyond)
Nan McNamara (7 Films, 7 Weeks)
Nolan North (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Andre Ware (The Banger Sisters)
David Boat (Frozen)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Jim Ward (Wall-E)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Steven Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)

In the North Atlantic in 1945 a squadron of B-24 Liberators transport the 101st Airborne Division. The radio announces that Berlin has been taken and Nazi Germany is expected to surrender. However, there are also claims of a Nazi superweapon that is aimed at Washington, D.C.Steve Rogers, better known as Captain America, leads the mission on an island near Norway where the superweapon is believed to be held. Rogers storms through the fortress and is confronted by his nemesis Herr Kleiser, who is revealed to be an extraterrestrial shape-shifter. The superweapon is launched, leaving Rogers the choice to throw himself onto the rocket and harmlessly cause it to self destruct, while having a final confrontation with Kleiser. The missile is destroyed, but Rogers falls into the ocean and the world believes he is dead.Sixty years later, Rogers’ body is recovered by S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury and thawed out into modern day. Gamma scientist Bruce Banner is working on a super soldier serum for S.H.I.E.L.D., while on medications that keep him from transforming into the Hulk. S.H.I.E.L.D. sends a sattelite into space to track the three ramaining alien ships, but is ultimately destroyed by the invaders, forcing Nick Fury to reluctantly initiate Project: Avenger.Fury and Rogers try to recruit the Norse god Thor, who rejects the offer to continue environmentalist protests. The resulting recruits are Captain America, Bruce Banner, Iron Man, Giant Man, Wasp, Natalia Romanov and Betty Ross. Fury briefs the team about the aliens, named the Chitauri, and the use of the metal vibranium, while Banner struggles to repress the Hulk persona and Rogers is hesitant of leading the Avengers.

The team’s first mission is to capture a Chitauri spy which has breached a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. The Avengers disregard Rogers’ orders and follow their own egos, resulting in failure which allows the alien to escape with all sufficient information about S.H.I.E.L.D.. Fury fires an arrogant Hank Pym, who is followed by his wife Wasp. Iron Man, now revealed to be Tony Stark, resigns immediately. Rogers also chooses to leave Fury, feeling unready to fight the Chitauri.Desperate for soldiers to combat the coming assault on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s New York facility, Fury demands that Banner applies his super soldier serum to all of his candidates, only for Betty Ross to learn that Banner was only using the serum as a diversion to find a way to control the Hulk. Banner steps into a “rebirth chamber”, which transforms him into the Hulk, while still maintaining his own mind. Fury and the Black Widow lead a failing attack against the alien invaders, but each Avenger shows up, now joined by Thor, to send the three ships crashing into the ocean.Banner loses control of his thoughts and the Hulk retains his own childlike and violent personality, brutally killing every last Chitauri and then lashing out against the Avengers. The Hulk proves strong enough to knock out a full-size Giant Man, damage Iron Man’s suit and even, with effort, to lift Thor’s hammer Mjollnir. The Avengers manage to inject the Hulk with a high dose of Banner’s medication, and Betty Ross calms the Hulk long enough to let the drug render him human again. Banner is kept in a glass cell for breaking Fury’s trust, and the Avengers celebrate their success against the Chitauri and praise a wounded Captain America for leading them as a team.The action is spectacular and the storyline keeps you riveted from start to finish. This movie grabs with its cinematic lead in and flashback to World War Two. (Complete with throwback radio broadcast) From there, it’s one big roller coaster ride to the pulse pounding finish. The battle sequences are some of the best ever animated. I think the PG-13 rating really helps. Soldiers die and heroes bleed, that completely draws the viewer in to the feature. I think movie fans of all ages will be stunned at how many levels this movie delivers upon. This is a smart and surprisingly interesting film that really delivers.

CAST (VOICES)

Justin Gross (Texhnolyze)
Grey DeLisle (The Replacements)
Michael Massee (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Marc Worden (Batman Beyond)
Nan McNamara (7 Films, 7 Weeks)
Nolan North (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Andre Ware (The Banger Sisters)
David Boat (Frozen)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Jim Ward (Wall-E)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Jeffrey D. Sams (Soul Food)

In the fortified African nation of Wakanda, the inhabitants of the small city-nation welcome home T’Challa, the son of king T’Chaka. Members of the extraterrestrial Chitauri race attract the attention of T’Chaka’s alter-ego, the Black Panther. T’Chaka is murdered by Herr Kleiser, their commander who continues to adapt the form of a Nazi commandant. T’Challa inherits the throne and Black Panther technology, swearing vengeance against Kleiser.In the United States, Captain America has become reckless in his missions due to the trauma of his 60-year deep freeze. Bruce Banner remains locked up in his cell after his Hulk incident, tormented and frequently drugged by a disgruntled ex-employee of his who acts as his interrogator. Betty Ross discovers that the wreckage of Chitauri ships has become mysteriously brittle. Hank Pym begins developing sickness for his overuse of his Giant-Man formula, leading to tension in his relationship with the Wasp. Thor sees a possible future where the Avengers are dead and seeks to consult Odin. Finding out that a Chitauri mothership is speeding towards Earth, Thor refuses to return to Asgard. When T’Challa meets Nick Fury and Captain America and reveals that Cap’s wartime nemesis kleiser still lives, he finds that Captain America tried to kill him numerous times and failed. T’Challa turns down an offer of alliance and Fury assembles the Avengers once again.

The Avengers illegally enter Wakanda. Black Panther allows only Captain America into the city, where he reveals that the Chitauri are searching for the “Heart of Wakanda”. The Avengers and Wakandan warriors find themselves fighting each other, with the Wakandans emerging victorious. The Avengers are commanded to return to their ship and T’Challa is stripped of his kinghood for allowing foreigners into the country. Captain America drags an injured Chitauri onto the Avengers’ jet, followed by Herr Kleiser taking T’Challa’s form. He steals Captain America’s shield and destroys the ship. Iron Man’s battered suit protects the Avengers in a force field and Thor teleports the team back to the Triskellion.

The Wasp is left in a coma from her injuries and is kept in the Triskellion. A mothership hovers above Wakanda and etraps the entire planet in a sickly-green bubble. Extraterrestrial invaders attack every major city on Earth and begin a massacre of the human population. Iron Man suits up in the War Machine armour and joins the Avengers as they teleport to Wakanda to battle the invaders. It is revealed they are seeking a gigantic meteorite of vibranium deep under Wakanda, from which the Wakandans develop their advanced technology. Bruce Banner works out that the gamma radiated from the Hulk is what caused the vibranium in the Chitauri ships to become brittle, and lets Betty use a gamma generator to attack the aliens close range. The Chitauri gas Banner’s cell and he promptly dies. Betty and the revived Wasp take a jet to Wakanda and give Iron Man the gamma generator to attack the inside of the mothership. Giant-Man, despite his condition getting worse from his use of his powers, shrinks down to aid Iron Man. Bruce Banner’s lifeless body becomes the Hulk and wakes up to fight the aliens invaders.Captain America and Black panther find themselves in a bloody fight with Kleiser, who appears to be immortal due to his rapid healing factor. The two trick Kleiser into falling into a pool of liquid vibranium and leave him trapped as it solidifies. Iron man and Giant-Man enter the mothership and destroy its core with the gamma generator. However, Giant-Man’s injuries lead him to pass out and he has to be carried back to the ground. Giant-Man makes up with the Wasp before dying. Iron Man travels alone to divert the crashing mothership away from the city, draining his life support. Thor returns and summons the power of the heavens to give life back to Tony Stark, proving his claims to be the God of Thunder to be genuine.With the Chitauri attack ended, the Avengers mourn Giant-Man’s death and T’Challa’s kinghood is restored. The Hulk sees Betty one last time before leaping away. Captain America and Black Widow begin a romantic relationship and the world celebrates victory over the Chitauri. The film ends with Thor and Nick Fury setting aside their differences and becoming friends.

The animation is superb! This movie is a sequel to the first Ultimate Avengers movie and maybe even a better one! They paid more attention to developing characters,but it could have been much more.Because that is what makes these superheroes special! There were nice little surprises in this movie and I don’t know if this is based on actual story lines in the marvel comics. It is nice to see a mature approach of things,just like in the comics. For me the movie is an example of what can be achieved if they take the myths created by Marvel Comics seriously.

REVIEW: AVENGERS: UNITED THEY STAND

 

CAST (VOICES)

Linda Ballantyne (Sailor Moon)
Tony Daniels (The BLack Mirror)
Graham Harley (The Cutting Edge)
Roy Landry (The Little Bear Movie)
Hamish McEwan (Amelia)
Ron Rubin (Flying Rhino Junior High)
Martin Roach (Cube Zero)
John Stocker (Babar)
Rod Wilson (Chloe)
Lenore Zann (X-Men: TAS)

Although set in New York, this cartoon is loosely based on the Marvel comic entitled ‘Avengers West Coast’. The team roster includes founding Avengers Ant-Man and the Wasp alongside long-term members Scarlet Witch and the Vision, newer members Tigra and Falcon, plus best friends Wonder Man and Hawkeye, the latter seen in the recent film ‘Avengers Assemble’. Fellow characters and founding members Captain America and Iron Man make guest-appearances in one episode each, as does Sub-Mariner himself, Prince Namor.

Although the costume changes weren’t popular with everyone, I really enjoyed team-leader Ant-Man’s new suit which featured a miniature rocket-ship worn as a backpack; when Ant-Man shrunk, he could go aboard the backpack and fly it on missions!

 

The stories, as you’d expect, are very child-friendly, but the relationships between the characters are subtle enough for adults to enjoy. In this series, Ant-Man and the Wasp’s marriage is portrayed as a very strong one with lots of teamwork, there’s a bit of a love triangle between Wonder Man, Scarlet Witch, and the Vision, and when Captain America shows up, there’s a bit of friction between he and the team’s leader, Ant-Man.

All in all, I feel it’s a shame that the loose ends concerning Wonder Man’s ailments, and the evil alien gang, the Zodiac, were never resolved before the series was cancelled.