Marvel's Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.
By Emily Ashby,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Copious violence overshadows promising themes in hero 'toon.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Intended to entertain, not educate.
These aren't your average superheroes, but the series strives to show that they do have emotions just like everyone else. Hulk and his friends are less menacing when they're not facing off with an enemy, which reminds viewers that a person's public image isn't always a reliable indicator of their true nature. The show's themes touch on issues like tolerance and self-image, mostly through Hulk's struggles to reconcile opposing forces in his personality. Violence is the only means by which conflicts are resolved, which sends iffy messages. A lone female character can hold her own with the guys and usually shows a softer side than any of them do.
Positive Role Models
As heroes go, these five rank high in courage and brute strength, but the fact that they can smash their way to victory means they never look for less violent ways to win the war. A couple of the characters –- including Hulk –- show some emotional depth, but the others are mostly superficial in personality.
Violence & Scariness
Excessive fighting dominates much of the show's content. Hulk and the other heroes only use force to deal with the bad guys, and their exchanges involve gunfire, gamma blasts, brute strength, knives, swords, etc. There's no blood, and the protagonists rarely suffer long-term effects, but the villains' minions are blasted to bits and strewn about.
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No cursing, but you will hear the characters call each other names like "jerk," "idiot," and "butthead."
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Products & Purchases
The series centers on Marvel characters, who are part of a massive merchandising effort.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Marvel's Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. centers on Hulk and a foursome of similarly buff characters. As superhero cartoons go, this one has a noticeably dark aura and menacing themes, illustrated by the very violent clashes between the hulks and their stated enemy, Annihilus. Part of the reason the battles are so intense is that the hulks can withstand just about anything that's thrown (or shot) at them, so kids will see them walk away from injuries that would kill in the real world. There are some moments of levity and glimpses into Hulk's more genteel side, but they're overshadowed by the intense battle scenes and the green hero's sullen, brooding dominant persona.
Where to Watch
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What's the Story?
In MARVEL'S HULK AND THE AGENTS OF S.M.A.S.H., the infamous green hero heads up a new team of burly supers, all of whom have been "hulkified" by gamma radiation. Joining Hulk (voiced by Fred Tatasciore) are Red Hulk (Clancy Brown), She-Hulk (Eliza Dushku), Skaar (Ben Diskin), and new transformee A-Bomb (Seth Green). Things can get pretty rough around a lair when everyone there has super strength, but this group also forms an unlikely –- and somewhat dysfunctional –- family whose bonds are tested by Annihilus (Robin Atkin Downes) and his legion of minions.
Is It Any Good?
Hulk is no stranger to the small screen, but Marvel's Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. puts an altogether different spin on the smash-happy hero of old. When he's not out decimating the enemy, he's hanging out with his homies, and just like in any family, the sparks often fly among the hot-headed compatriots. What's more, one of his friends documents this "real-life" drama to post on a webcast in an effort to show Hulk's softer, more intellectual side to people who see him as little more than a thug. An interesting concept, to be sure, and one that could yield possible positive themes for kids, if not for number of times he reverts to his brutish, monosyllabic self, uttering things like "Hulk am smart!" or "Hulk smash!" while he pulverizes everything in sight. He's a moral contradiction, and ultimately the result is confusing for young viewers.
Even so, the show spends less time exploring these new personality nuances than it does covering the violent exchanges between the Hulks and Annihilus, their would-be assassin, and at the end of the day, that's the kind of content that will make a mark on the kids it's designed to attract.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how this show's violence translates to the real world. What would be the fallout if we solved problems the way these characters do? What false impressions does this show give about the long-term effects of war?
Kids: How does this incarnation of Hulk differ from others you've seen before? Is there more or less depth to his character? Why do you think super heroes are such a popular subject for TV shows and movies?
A consistent theme in this story is the discrepancy between Hulk's image and his true personality. Do you think this is true of all celebrities? How important is an image to their popularity? What happens when they behave in a manner that negatively impacts their image?
- Premiere date: August 11, 2013
- Cast: Clancy Brown, Fred Tatasciore, Robin Atkin Downes
- Network: Disney XD
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Superheroes, Friendship, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Space and Aliens
- TV rating: TV-Y7-FV
- Last updated: February 18, 2023
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