Avengers, “Everything Is Wonderful”

12Nov10

I’m not the biggest fan of the Avengers in the comics, much as I like them, so maybe I’m wrong about this. But I think most comic book fans would not rate Wonder Man too high on their list of characters. Is he the worst superhero? No. But he’s never added much beyond his first appearance, where he was basically held for ransom by Baron Zemo to help beat the Avengers, only to feel guilty and betray Zemo, before dying heroically.

Fortunately, he’s given a little more definition than that in his debut Avengers episode. Chronologically, the first time we meet Simon Williams, he is pleading with Tony Stark not to buy up his company and take it over.  Stark, who’s been playing with a Tron baseball, responds that he’s actually the majority owner now, saying it like he just got the high score in an arcade game. Somehow, it surprises him when Williams storms out. Ah, that Stark tact at work again! “I seem to have more money than God, what were you saying?”

Once Williams has gone, Ant Man emerges from something on Stark’s desk he was apparently searching or cleaning (That’s a great way to make him seem dignified. “Tiny Janitor Man, I’ve spilled some jam in a hard to reach spot! Here is your miniscule mop and very small bucket!”) so he can berate Stark about being unethical. And Tony responds by basically threatening to seduce the Wasp away from Ant Man, after saying Ant Man is too stupid to understand what Stark is planning. I was half expecting Ant Man to turn towards the camera and nervously wonder if Iron Man had learned his horrible secret.

Before Tony Stark’s evil twin could come in and say they had actually survived their plane crash 2 years ago, we cut to the Wasp and Thor, chasing an AIM vehicle that can shoot miniature black holes. While Thor is able to magic himself and the Wasp out of this and follow the ship to its lair, the idea that one guy in a beehive outfit can create black holes is a pretty disturbing concept. You’d think Iron Man would want to drop his Tron ball and put a stop to that. Of course, maybe he just didn’t want to go along with the Wasp and Thor’s apparent bloodlust, since both of them get excited about the idea of following the ship and beating up everyone they find when it stops.

In yet another plot thread, we get to see Captain America meeting Nick Fury, who is almost (but not quite) as excited as Iron Man was last episode to be meeting Cap. They get as far as exchanging names before we switch back to Williams, meeting with the Grim Reaper…his brother. Reaper leads him to a secret AIM facility, led by MODOK. MODOK makes a terrible sales pitch for giving Williams amazing power, but he decides to go along with it anyway.

Now, remember what I said about the first time we meet Williams chronologically? The reason for that word is that we actually met him in the cold open, watching from inside a tiny metal coffin as AIM starts to shoot an unidentified purple energy at him, only for Thor and Wasp to crash in and ruin the experiment. We finally come to that scene from the perspective of the others in the room, where we find out that Williams has been changed into a being of pure energy, going straight for Iron Man, and interrupting Stark and Ant Man’s dramatic arguments. The fight that follows is decent, but more interesting for Iron Man getting his ass kicked by Williams than anything else-though Ant Man being punched not once, but twice, because he’s marveling at how interesting Williams’ new form is. Meanwhile, Wasp and Thor both fight MODOK and talk about how ugly he is.

Unfortunately, it’s a good example of the problem with this episode in general-rather than sticking to one fight and doing it well, two fights get shortchanged by happening at the same time, even though the Modok fight stops before the Wonder Man one does. The same thing happens all over the episode-there’s at least 3 plotlines happening at once, with some subplots happening in there too. They all come together in the end, but it’s rather clumsy-the meeting between Captain America and Fury could have easily been dropped and become the B plot for another episode, to streamline this one. As much as I like the Avengers series being suitable for both children and adult fans (at least in my opinion), there’s something to be said for simplicity, at least in the early stages of the show. Too many plot hooks, and it’ll be hard to keep track of when things came up. But if this latest episode is something of a mess, at least it’s energetic.

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