REVIEW: THOR & LOKI: BLOOD BROTHERS

CAST (VOICES)

Daniel Thorn (Technobabylon)
Jennifer Spriggs  (The One I Love)
Roger Clark (Perfect Disasters)

thor_loki_bloodbrothers_preview_01Loki has become the ruler of Asgard. However, he doesn’t have dominion over Hela, the goddess of death. Loki is demanding fealty from everyone in Asgard. Hela asks Loki for the soul of Thor for her “legions in Nifelheim”. Lady god Sif is imprisoned at the ending of the first segment. Karnilla, the queen god of Nornheim meets Loki in the second segment. She pleads for the release of Balder from imprisonment. In the third segment, Loki orders the destruction of the Rainbow Bridge. In a flashback, Odin defeats Laufey in battle. In the final segment, Loki refuses to execute Thor and spurns Hela.cbr-thorlokibloodbrothersclip118-1024x577To say this is “inspired by” the four-issue Loki graphic novel series of 2004 is a little misleading. The scripting, story and artwork are identical, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The animation is a more than a little stifled, mostly relying on computer technology to manipulate a single static image rather than produce extra frames. I find this adaptation to be fascinating. The transfer from graphic novel to albeit limited animated feature showcases the original artwork in an incredible way, adding a vibrancy to the work. The addition of the more traditional elements of Norse mythology and it’s clever integration is a very nice touch. If you liked the original source material then this you will love. thor_loki_bloodbrothers_preview_03

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REVIEW: THOR: TALES OF ASGARD

CAST (VOICES)

Matthew Wolf (The Fault of Our Stars)
Rick Gomez (Sin City)
Tara Strong (Batman: TAS)
Alistair Abell (Freddy vs Jason)
Paul Dobson (Chappie)
Brent Chapman (Big Eyes)
Chris Biritton (Carrie 2013)

Tales of Asgard takes place well before Thor would become the mighty God of Thunder. His strength is anything but superhuman. He wields no otherworldly powers. This teenager has yet to seize hold of Mjolnir, the mystic hammer that would go on to be the adult Thor’s weapon of choice. There’s nothing vaguely heroic about him at all, really. The Thor we’re introduced to at the outset is a sheltered, arrogant whelp. He’s never stepped foot outside the palace grounds of Asgard. He’s so wrapped up in himself that Thor fails to recognize that the warriors he battles in the arena are letting him win.

His father Odin and brother Loki do their damndest to keep propping up that façade. When Thor with his masterfully crafted, jewel-encrusted sword is effortlessly bested in battle by Sif — a teenaged girl with nothing more than a bucket and a broken pitchfork — his illusions come crumbling down. Thor thirsts for a real adventure, so he and Loki stow themselves away on the flying ship of the Warriors Three. The prize is the legendary sword of the fire giant Surtur…a treasure that countless Asgardians have chased but never been able to unearth. The treasure hunt at first glance seems to go according to plan, but the sword’s dark power proves to be more than Thor can handle, and a war between the Frost Giants and Asgard quickly erupts because of it. Returning the sword should quell those fires, but Thor and his companions are still a world away.

As much as the Star Wars prequels have trained me to wince at the prospect of a “when they were young” story, Thor: Tales of Asgard pulls this off remarkably well. It’s intriguing to see how different these characters are at the outset. Loki would in later years be Thor’s arch-nemesis — responsible for the deaths of untold legions, to blame for the destruction of Asgard — but here he’s easily the more likeable of the two brothers. He’s fiercely protective of his family, genuinely innocent, cautious, and only just now dipping his toes into sorcery. Thor, meanwhile, is an arrogant, impulsive braggart incapable of looking far enough ahead to think about consequences. At least at first, no one would mistake him for a hero. The events of Tales of Asgard nudge both of Odin’s sons towards the directions they’d take later in life, but instead of feeling like a heavy-handed origin story, it’s a really well thought out and very effective chapter from these early years. Both Thor and Loki are believably fleshed-out as characters, and their arcs feel meaningful and wholly earned.

Asimpressed as I am with the way both of them are presented, the Warriors Three completely steal the movie, overflowing with personality and scoring all the best lines. Also putting in appearances here are Odin himself, The Enchantress, a Fenris Wolf, the Dark Elf Algrim, Brunhilde, and the warrior goddess Sif, among many others. As sprawling as the cast is and as dense as the mythology can be, Thor: Tales of Asgard is never overwhelming. The point of it all is to introduce neophytes to the realm of Asgard, and the movie deftly juggles all of these many different elements and with a minimum of exposition to boot.

The pacing is kept nimble with a constant sense of forward momentum too, so things never have a chance to drag. I’m also intrigued by how even-keeled Tales of Asgard is with these characters. There really is no overarching villain. There are characters who do terrible things, of course, be it willfully or out of ignorance, but there are no nefarious, moustache-twirling schemes or anything like that. Everyone is shown as having a sympathetic, justifiable point of view. Its primary interest is in showing the transformative effects of great power, and in keeping with that, the finalé even takes care to define heroism in terms other than people hitting each other. Even better, the movie manages to make these points in the scale of a colossal battle, never at all feeling preachy, heavy-handed, or anticlimactic.

Thor: Tales of Asgard takes a lot of chances, presenting such familiar characters in very unfamiliar ways and veering away from the traditional superhero formulas. I mean, this is a movie where Thor is kind of a prick, can’t fly, lacks any superhuman abilities, has never held his iconic stone hammer, and is the best of friends with a character we’re so used to seeing as his mortal enemy. It’s impressive enough that Tales of Asgard doesn’t play it safe, but also that it pulls all of this off so well.

REVIEW: THE MIGHTY THOR (1966)

CAST (VOICES)

Bernard Cowan (20,000 Leagues Under The Sea)
Peg Dixon (Strange Paradise)
Chris Wiggins (Babar)
Len Carlson (Cypher)

With the big screen adaptations of Thor proving to be both a critical and commercial success, Clear Vision  re-released the 1966 animated series of The Mighty Thor on DVD. The series was a part of a nightly run of programming for Marvel animated series, with five key Marvel characters having their own night to showcase their adventures. Of course, Thor was aired on Thursdays.

Thirteen episodes are collected on two discs and cover a range of Thor’s greatest enemies, although Loki does dominate proceedings throughout, particularly on disc one, where the format appears to be Thor minds his own business on Earth trying to woo Jane Foster, whilst under the guise of Dr. Donald Blake. Of course, Loki can’t leave our hero be and decides to come up with various schemes to put Thor in danger or discredit him. Of course, Thor, often on the brink of defeat, manages to defeat Loki, and with the help of Odin, banishes him to imprisonment he won’t be able to escape. Well, until the next episode at least.

Given that the first disc is rather formulaic, it hardly makes for compelling viewing and much of the enjoyment is gleamed from the fantastic art work. Disc two is where the series really hits its stride, mainly as it breaks from the formula and introduces an array of antagonists for Thor to face off against. Loki still makes appearances, and Odin’s displeasure at Thor’s relationship with a mortal is still evident in every episode, but having the focus on other antagonists is a refreshing change.

The final episode will, no doubt, be the one of most interesting to the majority of the target audience, as it brings together the members of The Avengers as they face off against the Lava Men. The episode itself features a muddled plot and resolves itself a little too quickly for you to really register what’s happened, but seeing all of the characters work together against an antagonist that isn’t Loki is a nice change.

Most of the voice work is great, particularly Thor, Odin and the other inhabitants of Asgard. However, Loki is a weak link.

The series is more like a motion comic than a full animated series, but is still a rather charming piece of work that will surely be of great interest to those who have strong feelings of nostalgia for the series. There are times where mouths move during dialogue-heavy sections and motion is hinted at, but mostly it’s a collection of frames, and once you get used to it, it’s barely noticeable.

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: THE SUPER HERO SQUAD SHOW – SEASON 1-2

CAST (VOICES)

Charlie Adler (Wall-e)
Alimi Ballard (Sabrina: TTW)
Steven Blum (Wolverine and the X-Men)
Dave Boat (Ultimate Spider-Man)
Jim Cummings (Darkwing Duck)
Grey DeLisle (The Fairly Oddparents)
Mikey Kelley (Gravity Falls)
Tom Kenny (The Batman)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Travis Willingham (Dragon Ball Z)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Shawn Ashmore (X-Men)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
John Barrowman (Arrow)
A.J. Buckley (Disturbing Behavior)
Ty Burrell (Muppets Most Wanted)
LeVar Burton (Star Trek: TNG)
Taye Diggs (Private Practice)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Suisan Eisenberg (Justice League)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: TNG)
Greg Grunberg (Heroes)
Nika Futterman (Futurama)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Tricia Helfer (Powers)
Cheryl Hines (The Ugly Truth)
Josh Keaton (Justice League: Gods and Monsters)
Wayne Knight (3rd rock from The Sun)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Phil LaMar (Free Enterprise)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
James Marsters (Smallville)
Jennifer Morrison (Urban Legends 2)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
Adrian Pasdar (Heroes)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica)
Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: TLJ)
Ray Stevenson (Divergent)
Fred Stoller (Little Man)
George Takei (Star Trek)
Cree Summer (Batman Beyond)
Michelle Trachtenberg (17 again)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Jim Ward (Danny Phantom)
Adam West (Batman 60s)
Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries)

When I saw a preview of The Super Hero Squad Show back in February of 2009, I thought it looked pretty interesting, but certainly aimed at the kiddies, and as it aired on Cartoon Network, I never saw an episode. In fact, I forgot all about it, and when I got my hands on this disc, I thought it was an animated take on the old Fisher-Price Marvel kiddie figures. So I had no expectations coming in. Well, my only expectation being that it would be bad. So it was with a good deal of shock that I found it to be a pretty entertaining action-comedy series, if you don’t mind the cheese-level of many of the jokes.

The Super Hero Squad (sort of a loose version of the Avengers) is made up of an assortment of Marvel heroes, including Iron Man (as the leader), Captain America (who provides aid on a regular basis), Wolverine (adding the X-Men’s popularity,) The Hulk, Thor, a spacey surfer-dude version of the Silver Surfer, and Falcon (obviously added to bring some diversity.) Joining them is the mostly unknown Reptil (a dinosaur-powered bit player from the Avengers comics) who is both a young guy and Hispanic, helping fill out the P.C. scorecard a bit more and give younger viewers a stand-in.  They go up against Doctor Doom and his legion of bad guys (and ineffective henchmen), as he searches for the Infinity fractals, shards of the Infinity Sword (which seems connected to the Infinity Gems of the Infinity Gauntlet. Infinity.)


Though the storylines are pretty solid and offer big action-packed battles, the bulk of the show is comedy, with the character’s out-sized personalities carrying the jokes, be it Thor’s overwhelming concern about his appearance or Captain America being stuck in the ’40s. Maybe I don’t give kids a lot of credit, but I can see a large portion of these gags flying over their heads, which will make the show far more enjoyable for adults than one would have expected. There was more than one joke that got a genuine laugh out of me, though many of them rely on bodily functions or pratfalls for the punchline. The wordplay and character-generated jokes are much more entertaining and fun, especially Thor’s Asgardian versions of modern language, the Silver Surfer’s alien view of Earth life, and anything involving the always-ridiculous floating head known as M.O.D.O.K. (voiced hilariously by Tom Kenny.) One joke about the Hulk swallowing a yo-yo is technically genius. The only thing about the show that doesn’t really work is Reptil, who feels like the Poochie of the show, coming off as a bone tossed to kids, with his dino-focused power, youthful role and extreme behavior.


This version of the Marvel Universe smartly keeps the same look for its characters, giving long-time Marvel fans an in for the series, but presents them in a super-deformed style (squat bodies, large heads and feet, four fingers) that’s kid-cartoon friendly and which easily separates it from any other version of the Universe you’ve ever seen. That way, there are no issues with continuity or previous incarnations, and the show can be enjoyed on its own merits (allowing them to do something like make Dr. Strange a complete lunatic.) That’s a good thing, because the show is loaded to the gills with fan-service goodies, like the episode titles (which reference famous comic titles) and title cards which replicate memorable cover art. The show also pulls characters from the depths of the Marvel roster, like Screaming Mimi and the Melter, and having silly cartoon fun with them. Taken simply as a silly, almost What The–?! treatment of the characters, it’s well worth a look for comic-book fans out of grade school.

On a non-story note, the theme song, provided by Parry Gripp of Nerf Herder, is an energetic blast, while the voice cast for this series has to be one of the best for a non-prime time animated series, with tons of veterans of the cartoon industry, like Kenny, Tara Strong, Jess Harnell, Grey DeLisle, Cree Summer and Charlie Adler, along with plenty of genre stars, including Robert Englund, Tricia Helfer, Jennifer Morrison and Adrian Pasdar. It’s rare to see a show like this pull this kind of voice cast.

the overall plot of the cycle will feature the villain Thanos seeking the six stones of the Infinity Gauntlet, a powerful cosmic weapon. Opposing him will be the titular Super Hero Squad, which is made up of goofball takes on Iron Man, Thor, Falcon, Wolverine, Hulk, Ms. Marvel, original character Reptil, Scarlet Witch, and sometimes Captain America. While the first two shows focus specifically on the Thanos plot, other episodes detour into one-off excursions. For instance, “World War Witch!” takes the heroes back in time to when Cap was fighting the Red Skull alongside the Invaders in WWII, while “Support Your Local Sky-Father!” pits Olympus vs. Asgard, and it features the Marvel Universe rendition of Hercules.

REVIEW: THE AVENGERS: EARTH’S MIGHTIEST HEROES

MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Brian Bloom (Vampirella)
Chris Cox (All Star Superman)
Jennifer Hale (The Rick)
Peter Jessop (Jla Adventures)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Eric Loomis (Shin Chan)
James C. Mathis III (Undercover Brother)
Colleen Villard (Duel Masters)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Rick D. Wasserman (Planet Hulk)
Wally Wingert (American Dad)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST COICES

Gabriel Mann (Cherry Falls)
Drake Bell (The Reef 2)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: The Teenage Witch)
Steven Blum (Wolverine and Teh X-men)
Alex Desert (The Flash 90s)
Vanessa Marshall (Duck Dodgers)
Kari Wuhrer (Eight Legged Freaks)
Elizabeth Daily (Valley Girl)
Troy Baker (Lego Batman)
Nolan North (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Crispin Freeman (Hellsing)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Grey DeLisle (Danny Phantom)
Cam Clarke (He-Man)
Lance Reddick (Lost)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Nika Futterman (Hey Arnold!)
Lance Henriksen (The Terminator)
Jonathan Adams (Bones)
Jeffrey Combs (Gotham)
Graham McTavish (The Hobbit)
Dawn Olivieri (The Vampire Diaries)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Keith Szarabajka (The Dark Knight)
Lacey Chabert (Mean Girls)

Both Marvel and DC have to an astonishing degree started to pick up these last few years, with several well-appreciated shows that I really enjoy: Young Justice, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Green Lantern TAS, and now this; The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

It’s very rare indeed for a superhero cartoon of this magnitude to be  great from start-to-finish, but that’s what Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is, right from Episode 1 `Iron Man is Born’ to the finale `Avengers Assemble!’. There are literally no dud episodes whatsoever! The whole series is infused with tremendous intrigue, exceptional plotting and some of the tightest continuity I’ve ever seen in a TV series. The number of sub-plots and story-arcs that are juggled here is staggering, but the creative team handled it all with such precision. The coherency, intricacies and pacing is nothing short of exemplary overall. This isn’t just essential for kids; adult Marvel fans will get bags of satisfaction from watching this cartoon!

So what exactly can folk expect? Well, as I said, the choicest pieces of Marvel history (be it in comics or on film) have been successfully adapted and utilized here. From how the Avengers banded together to life-changing events like the Civil War threat and the Skrulls’ Secret Invasion (adapted beautifully here!). Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Ant-Man/Yellowjacket, the Wasp and Black Panther are all superbly established before `Assembling’ for the first time, members come-and-go, characters undergo changes, Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel and the Vision join the ranks, and all-manner of superb guests join the party, such as Spider-Man, Wolverine, the Fantastic Four and even those Guardians of the Galaxy!

And on the villains-front, you can be subjected to a cracking-bunch of dastardly rogues, such as Loki, the Red Skull, Hydra, A.I.M., Baron Zemo, the Enchantress, the Masters of Evil, Kang the Conqueror, Doctor Doom and (of course!) chief arch-nemesis Ultron. And it’s not all just for window-dressing. The depictions of all these characters (hero, villain and otherwise) and their worlds is just pure gold. It’s perhaps the most faithful animated portrayal of the Marvel Universe.
Really, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes could (and should) have gone on for more seasons. Instead, Marvel pulled the plug in favor of the replacement show Avengers Assemble. Thus in the last batch episodes, you DO get the feel that the writers were trying to wrap things up and give the show a grand swansong to make way for the next-cartoon-in-line. Admittedly, there are a few loose ends left over, but the series is mostly wrapped-up in winning style with a very acceptable conclusion. And in an age where too many shows are cancelled prematurely/end on a sour note, it makes that final moment of `Avengers Assemble!’ all the more of a triumph, just like the entire series itself.

REVIEW: THOR: THE DARK WORLD

CAST

Chris Hemsworth (The Huntsman: Winter’s War)
Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
Tom Hiddleston (Crimson Peak)
Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of The Lambs)
Christopher Eccleston (G.I. Joe)
Jaimie Alexander (The Last Stand)
Zachary Levi (Chuck)
Ray Stevenson (Punisher: Warzone)
Tadanobu Asano (Mongul)
Idris Elba (Pacific Rim)
Rene Russo (Get Shorty)
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Sucide Squad)
Kat Dennings (2 Broke Girls)
Stellan Skarsgard (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
Alice Krige (Star Trek: First Contact)
Clive Russell (Sherlock Holmes)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Benicio Del Toro (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Chris Evans (Injustice)
Ophelia Lovibond (4.3.2.1)

After learning about a new powerful foe that even Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) must embark on another dangerous mission. This time, the risk is much more personal than it ever has been for this powerful hero. With both Asgard and Earth facing the chance of destruction, he must sacrifice everything by reuniting with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) in order to save us all. This forces Thor to request help from the most unlikely of characters. If they aren’t able to stop the ominous danger that approaches us, then this universe will belong to the darkness.

Picking up a couple years after the previous Thor motion picture, this sequel gets started rather quickly. A bulk of the plot is carried from the perspective of Jane Foster and her intern, Darcy (Kat Dennings). While there’s still a small amount of humor to be seen in the beginning from Asgard, the majority of it comes from the humans.

The casting is excellent. Chris Hemsworth returns in the role of Thor.  Natalie Portman is pretty solid, as she always is. While this isn’t the most memorable performance of her career, she’s convincing as Jane Foster. Anthony Hopkins is a satisfying Odin, as he was in the previous picture. However, the real star of Thor: The Dark World is Tom Hiddleston as Loki. He’s clearly one of the most charming and entertaining actors to portray a role from the Marvel universe. While he always seems to receive good material, Hiddleston’s delivery is simply unparalleled.

When it comes to the visual department, always expect incredible effects. Thor: The Dark World looks fantastic from its opening scene until the quick scene after the credits. The make-up, costumes, and special effects blend together in an impeccable fashion. These elements aid audiences in becoming a part of this universe.