I'm very particular about what television shows I recommend, especially cartoons, because I know they don't appeal to everyone. Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes is one of my favorite cartoons of all time. It may be a cartoon that appeals to a younger audience, but it's actually written with more of an adult audience in mind with it's darker themes, story arcs, and complex heroes and villains.
Here are my top 14 reasons why I love the show, and am recommending it to you right now to binge out on Netflix!
1. Great Origin Stories
The first several episodes are handled as "solo" adventures showing the origin of each hero before they come together as the Avengers. Hulk, Iron Man, Wasp, Ant-Man, Thor and Captain America all are introduced in solo stories, and each receive great character development before they become a team.
2. Hawkeye and Black Widow
In the origin episodes we meet S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Black Widow and Hawkeye, partners and seemingly close friends. However, Widow betrays her partner to her true allegiance, Hydra, and allows him to be wrongfully incarcerated in a super-villain prison.
The Avengers initially unite during the super-villain breakout from the same prison, and Hawkeye tries to take down some villains, but because the other heroes believe him to be a villain he escapes, and goes looking for revenge against Widow.
Their chemistry is amazing, and these two have a wonderfully long and complicated arc! They are much more fleshed out characters than the ones in the MCU, and we get to see parts of their past, and how close these two really are!
3. The Humor
The hilarity is one of my favorite parts of the show. Specifically the dialog between Avengers, and especially the relationships between Hulk, Hawkeye and Panther. We even occasionally throw the Fantastic Four into the mix!
This particular scene is several Avengers playing poker along with the Thing, and Human Torch. It's very enjoyable seeing the dialog and hazing that takes place during the "off-hours" of our superheroes.
4. Lesser Known Heroes Like Wasp, Vision, Ms. Marvel, Black Panther and Luke Cage
Earth's Mightiest Heroes does a great job of introducing characters only comic book fans know of! We met Vision in the MCU this summer in Age of Ultron, Wasp in Ant-Man, and Luke Cage in Marvel's Jessica Jones. Others like Black Panther and Ms. Marvel are planned but not seen in the MCU yet. This is a great place to be introduced to a lot of lesser known superheroes, and get to know them before their MCU counterparts – especially for those who have never read comics! It really helps you appreciate the depth, and history of each unknown character!
5. Loki's Arc
Fans of the MCU are extremely loyal when it comes to the Asgardian villain Loki, and he definitely doesn't disappoint in Earth's Mightiest Heroes!
In the first season, Loki is imprisoned after attempting to take control of Asgard from his father and brother. Although he fails in his attempt, he uses the Enchantress to further his goals from prison. With her ties to the Masters of Evil on Earth a plot evolves to destroy the Avengers, the nine realms and leave Loki on the throne of Asgard. The arc ends with a great payoff when elves, dwarves and other mythical creatures from the nine realms aid the Avengers in Asgard. We even get to see Stark build an Iron Man suit made from the dwarf metal that created Thor's hammer, Mjolnir. Who doesn't want to see THAT happen in the MCU??
6. Hank Pym's Arc
Hank arguably has the best arc of the entire series. He creates the Ant-Man suit because he's a curious scientist but he gets sucked into being a superhero because the Avengers need him as both a scientist and a hero. His two superhero personas, Ant-Man and Giant-Man, and both prove greatly valuable to the team. He eventually leaves because he feels guilty for creating the Ultron robot and he hates the violence involved in superhero work. Later he gives the Ant-Man suit to a young Scott Lang.
Eventually he rejoins the team as the mysterious Yellowjacket, using both his shrinking and enlarging tech. He also has an ongoing romance with Wasp which adds a human level to the cartoon.
7. Revolving Avengers Roster
One of my very favorite things from the show is the revolving team dynamic of the Avengers. Even Captain America, Hulk and Thor take a hiatus on occasion, leaving openings for lesser known characters to be introduced!
This also adds another level of realism to the characters as they leave to take time for their personal lives, their own adventures and some basic time off! Thor occasionally needs to go back to Asgard, Black Panther is the king of an African country, and Hulk even goes to prison for a while when he's wrongfully accused of an attack!
8. Masters of Evil
In the first season we get to see a team of super-villains come up against our heroes including: Enchantress and the Executioner from Asgard, Wonderman; a failed scientist, Zemo; a Nazi leader from Captain America's past, Abomination; the muscle of the team and one of Hulk's foes.
It's really fun to see an evil team come up against our villains! It's one of the biggest things I'm still wanting to see in the MCU. I want to see six or seven big-time villains come together to fight six or seven heroes! This happens fairly often in the cartoon, and just like the rotating Avengers roster, the Masters of Evil are constantly changing their team up!
9. Mockingbird and Quake
If you're a fan of Marvel's: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., you'll love it when Mockingbird and Quake show up as part of Nick Fury's Secret Warriors! Turns out these two, and Widow, have been hiding with Nick Fury because they know of a secret alien invasion. They eventually come to the Avengers for help.
It's really amazing to see these two characters on the small screen every week, and with this cartoon it is fun to see how much these characters have evolved!
10. Secret Invasion
One of the most popular comic stories from recent years was the Secret Invasion crossover, and it was an ongoing arc in Earth's Mightiest Heroes. In the first season finale we're left with a cliffhanger where we witness one of our leading heroes get captured and replaced by a shapeshifting Skrull. Season 2 runs with this story for several episodes, making us wonder which other heroes could be aliens in disguise, and how our captured Avenger could get back to Earth!
The Ultron arc in the show is something that is very subtle at first and it's probably the longest arc of the entire show. We originally meet all of the Ultrons as Hank Pym's laboratory assistants. Later they become the prison guards of a super-villain prison, and as they evolve Ultron becomes the classic villain we know. Each time the Avengers believe they have destroyed him he keeps coming back for more. He creates the Vision, tears the team apart and ultimately is the reason Hank Pym leaves the Avengers. Since he is one of the longstanding Avengers' comic book villains I'm happy his cartoon counterpart lived up to the hype!
12. Guardians of the Galaxy
Two years before they made their big screen debut, we were introduced to the Guardians of the Galaxy in a singular episode of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. The Guardians and the Avengers fought over a man with dangerous cosmic powers.
We met Groot, Rocket, Star-Lord but also new Guardians: Quasar and Adam Warlock. These two haven't appeared in the MCU yet, but I'm still crossing my fingers that they'll appear in the 2017 sequel! Watching this episode makes you really appreciate the connection between the two teams, Iron Man even calls them "Space Avengers," and you can't help but hope that this chemistry would translate to the big screen if/when they do meet in the MCU!
13. Obscure characters Like Beta Ray Bill, Red Hulk, Doc Samson, Iron Fist and Purple Man
Have you finished binging Jessica Jones on Netflix yet? Well, do that before you start Earth's Mightiest Heroes, but if you haven't you'll get to meet Jessica's villain in this cartoon! He pops up a couple of times, but his big episode is when he's used Stark tech to extend his mind control powers to reach the entire world. He forces Stark into becoming the Emperor of the world, manipulates all the Avengers to do his bidding and creates the world shaped in his image. It's a pretty creepy episode, even if David Tenant does play the Purple Man best!
14. Final Galactus Battle
Unfortunately the show ended after only two Seasons to be replaced by another cartoon that better resembled the characters from the MCU that children would recognize. Its cancellation was unfortunate but it went out with the best fight scenes you could ask for!
The final battle between the Avengers and the Devourer of Worlds is nothing short of nerd heaven! Since this foe is the biggest foe they'd ever fought they reach out to all of their allies to assist! Black Widow, Luke Cage, Doc Sampson, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Ant-Man, the Fantastic Four, War-Machine, Falcon, the Winter Soldier, Iron Fist, and Quake along with the Avengers: Captain America, Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, Yellowjacket, Wasp, Hulk, Vision, Black Panther, and Hawkeye to become the biggest grouping of superheroes we've seen hit our TVs yet! I know we're all hoping that the Avengers, Guardians, S.H.I.E.L.D., and Netflix's Defenders will all come join the fight in Avengers: Infinity Wars, but it's unlikely we'll see that many characters make it into one film due to scheduling and budgets. This final battle sequence with all of these characters is wonderful, fun and extremely epic!
I hope I've convinced you to check the show out! No matter your age, gender, or comic book prowess you'll enjoy this cartoon! It's got a little bit of everything, but mostly it'll help introduce you to new characters to love and fill in the gaps of your life between Marvel films!