Dead Television Marvel Month: The Avengers: United They Stand

Well, this was a fun time, didn’t we? But alas all good things must come to an end, and boy is it ending on a bad note. This is Marvel’s very first attempt at an Avengers adaptation: Avengers: United They Stand, and just like Silver Surfer and Spider-Man Unlimited the last for a 13 episode season; luckily it did not end in a cliffhanger.

There’s not much of an origin for the eponymous team except that they’re loosely based on the West Coast Avengers rather than the team we all know from TV and the movies. The West Coast Avengers were formed by founding Avenger Clint Barton (Hawkeye) based on an idea another Avenger: Vision gave him. The team consisted of: Hawkeye, Mockingbird, Tygra, Wonder Man and, Iron Man (the guise being used by Jim Rhodes i.e. War Machine at the time). Hank Pym another founding Avenger (with a five different alter-egos) would serve as a scientific advisor and compound manager to the W.C.A. That’s really all I know about the team.

In 1997, Roland Poindexter, the supervising executive in charge of animated series at Fox, approached two X-Men (1992) animated series writers named Robert N. Skir and Marty Isenberg to develop a proposal for an Avengers cartoon. After creating a detailed 13-episode story arc, the network decided a Captain America series would be more suited to its schedule. But before Fox could green light either series, Marvel went into bankruptcy, effectively ending the development process for all its shows. It wasn’t until after the publisher’s financial woes were resolved in late 1998 that Poindexter revived interest in the Avengers project, this time approaching former X-Men animated series story editor Eric Lewald and his wife, Julia, to come on board as story editors for the series. In January 1999, Fox finally gave the official go-ahead and Ron Myrick was hired to oversee the show’s visual development.

This series, along with Spider-Man Unlimited (1999), was commissioned by Fox in the wake of the success of Batman Beyond (1999). In order to attempt to emulate Batman Beyond, changes were made to the Avengers franchise as the series was set in the future. Emory “Ron” Myrick explained that they were “setting the series about twenty-five years in the future” and that “New York City will be a mix of future and contemporary looks, sort of the way the city looked in the movie Blade Runner (1982) but not as dark.” The Avengers were also featured wearing elaborate armor costumes when they went into battle. Myrick said “The armor will give them the capability to go into different environments like extreme heat or cold, or underwater, or outer space, and it’ll enhance their abilities.” The Avengers also featured an “A” on their costumes that was like a Star Trek comlink, where they could hit it and communicate with each other and the mansion’s computer.

Early in this series, Wonder Man is wounded by Vision and spends the better part of the season in a coma. Scarlet Witch is eventually able to revive him. Like the comics, Vision was created by Ultron in his attempt to destroy the Avengers. The Avengers manage to use the defeated Vision in order to store some of Wonder Man’s memories after Wonder Man is attacked by Ultron.

Ringmaster appear in the episode “Comes a Swordsman”. He, Swordsman, and the Circus of Crime plot to steal the Mythrax Bacteria. Hawkeye infiltrates his Circus of Crime to find out their plot with the Mythrax. He uses his illusions to throw off the Avengers until Falcon’s bird Redwing sees through them. Ringmaster is defeated when the Mythrax Bacteria canisters were empty. During the Avengers’ fight with Ringmaster, Hawkeye fights Swordsman when he reveals that he used the Ringmaster as a diversion. Swordsman escapes as Hawkeye and Ant-Man disarm the Mythrax Bomb. It is later revealed that Swordsman was hired by the Zodiac to deliver them the Mythrax Bacteria. Taurus has his minions “tear Swordsman into twelve pieces.”

Both versions of Baron Zemo were featured in the episode “Command Decision.” The elder Zemo appeared in a flashback while Helmut Zemo led the Masters of Evil against the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. His costume (though very similar to his comic outfit) reflected the futuristic style of the series.

Attuma appears in the episode “To Rule Atlantis.” He is using a Dynamo machine to cause earthquakes at Atlantis and the surface world and is allied with Namor’s subjects Pecos and Dara. This event causes Namor to work with the Avengers to thwart Attuma. Namor manages to defeat Attuma and destroy the Dynamo machine with the Avengers’ help.

Egghead appeares in episode titled “Egg-Stream Vengeance”. Disguised as a long-legged clown at a Thanksgiving Day Parade, Egghead tampers with Hank Pym’s “Pym Particles” by blowing special bubbles at him while he is fighting a brought to life dinosaur float. When he arrives at Avengers Mansion with the press, he uses a countermeasure to restore Ant-Man to his rightful height but later causes him to shrink. While Wasp stays behind to watch over Ant-Man, the other Avengers go out to hunt Egghead. After Scarlet Witch deactivates the security system around Egghead’s house, the other Avengers manage to apprehend Egghead and bring him to Avengers Mansion. When Ant-Man is cured by Wasp, he sprays Egghead with his own serum with half-life Pym Particles that will leave him small for a few hours. Hawkeye manages to trap Egghead in a jar and give him to the arriving police officers as Scarlet Witch gives them Egghead’s recorded confession.

In the two part series finale “Earth and Fire”, the Avengers once again encounter the Zodiac gang, after their initial appearance in “Shooting Stars”. Like the other Zodiac members in this show, Taurus is an alien based on the constellation he is named after, though Taurus has the ability to take human form temporarily, and has used the identity of Van Lundt. Fellow Zodiac member Aries meanwhile, is depicted as a super-strong alien that wears a ram-horned helmet. Aquarius is depicted with a fish-like appearance and water-based attacks. Gemini is depicted as a two-headed alien (one male head, one female head) with four arms.

Once again, just like Surfer and Unlimited there was plans for a second season: additional episodes featured Hawkeye’s return to the carnival where he grew up as well as an episode that explores how the Scarlet Witch discovered her powers. Plans also included guest appearances by the X-Men, which would have utilized the Toronto-based cast from the 1990s series since a few of them already worked on this show, and Dr. Robert Bruce Banner (a.k.a. The Incredible Hulk) was supposed to appear to help the team when Henry Pym/Ant Man fell ill to gamma radiation exposure during a fight with the villain Egg-Head, and a two-part episode featuring Thor and his brother Loki. However, all plans were scrapped.

The Avengers: United They Stand was not well received by critics and fans alike. Some fans considered it the worst animated series based on Marvel Comics (primarily for it’s toyetic nature). All 13 episodes are on Marvel.com

RANK: 1 out of 5

And with that said this concludes Marvel Month, I really hoped you enjoyed it, and I might do this again someday with something else.

Later.

Advertisements