Sunday, May 03, 2015

Nostalgia Theater: The Avengers' Crappy First Cartoon

Marvel's Avengers are currently cleaning up at the box office via their second big screen blockbuster, but in all the anticipation and hype for Age of Ultron, it's easy to forget that there was a time not too long ago when the only way the Marvelous super-team could make its way into the mainstream was via an instantly forgettable animated offering that aired on Fox Kids for about a minute-and-a-half during the late 1990s.

Arriving a few short years after Fox found considerable success with first Marvel's X-Men and later Spider-Man (in turn launching a veritable cavalcade of comic-based cartoons on Saturday mornings throughout the decade), there was no reason to think they couldn't make lightning strike thrice. Alas, such was not to be. Instead, when The Avengers (sometimes saddled with the unwieldy subhead "United They Stand") premiered in October '99, it looked like this:

I gotta say, between the terrible theme music and the even more terrible character designs, a more apt title might have been Avengers: Whaddya Do, It's the '90s.

You'll note also that the "big three" Avengers (Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor) are absent from the "starting line-up" montage, as they were for the majority of the series other than that brief shot at the end of the title sequence. The reason for this is the same reason it took so long to put those characters together in live action: Licensing deals with different studios. As such, the production team relied on a lot of second-stringers in goofy power armor to carry the day -- and sell some toys, natch:

Featuring a team anchored by Ant-Man, the Wasp, Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, Tigra, and the Vision (the majority of whom have been or will soon be given the Marvel Cinematic Universe treatment), the producers probably hoped that the Marvel connection alone would be enough to lure audiences in even with a cast of mostly unknown heroes populating the show. Needless to say, those audiences didn't bite, and the Avengers (well, these Avengers, anyway) disassembled after a scant thirteen episodes.

One Year Ago in Nostalgia Theater: C-3PO's Cereal -- A New Force at Breakfast!

Two Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: The Many Crappy Lives of Knight Rider, Part I

Three Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: TV's Live Action Conan -- A Kinder, Gentler Barbarian

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