What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that while this animated series isn't as dark as something like the modern TV Batman, it's not the Superfriends you remember, either. The violence is bigger and better animated, and everything moves more quickly -- but what young kids and new-to-action cartoon viewers may find really worrying is that these characters feel fear, both for themselves and for one another, and it comes across in their voices. That makes watching this show a little more powerful than some of its peers.
What's the story?
THE AVENGERS follows little-known Marvel Comics heroes The Wasp (voiced by Linda Ballantyne), Wonder Man (Hamish McEwan), Tigra (Lenore Zann), Hawkeye (Tony Daniels), and Scarlet Witch (Stavroula Logothettis) as they battle equally obscure foes with names like Grim Reaper and Ultron (John Stocker). The characters work as a team, rallying around the battle cry "Avengers Assemble!" Stories carry over from one episode to the next, so kids watching episodes out of order may be surprised to see Wonder Man imprisoned and powerless in one episode, fine in the next, and then powerless again. Characters don armor before battles in what appears to be a nod to The Transformers and its ilk.
Is it any good?
The show's cast and the writing are better than its animation, so the emotion-filled adventures sometimes feel superimposed over generic action figures that could have been taken from any late-'90s superhero cartoon. Kids will be caught up by the team's apparent attachment to one another -- which is more interesting than the villains -- and by ongoing plots like the transformation of Vision (a robotic humanoid incapable of emotion) into a caring team member. Battles are exciting, and injuries are possible, making it seem like this crew has more skin in the game than some of the unstoppable heroes many kids start out watching.
Overall, while The Avengers isn't as well done (or dark) as the most recent versions of either Spider-Man or Batman, it's an entertaining option for older grade schoolers and tweens hungry for more superhero adventure. Just know that if they get into the cartoon now, chances are they're going to be agitating to see what's sure to be as dark and violent a superhero flick as Hollywood can come up with when the Avengers movie comes out in 2011.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about why shows like this one -- which originally aired in the late '90s -- sometimes end up getting rebroadcast years later. In this case, there's an Avengers movie scheduled a few years down the line; do you think that's behind this show's resurrection? Why? Families can also talk about what makes this show different from other superhero cartoons. Kids: Which is your favorite? Why?