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Avengers: United They Stand (also known simply as Avengers) is an animated series based on the Marvel Comics superhero team the Avengers. It consists of thirteen episodes, which originally premiered on October 30, 1999, and was produced by Avi Arad and distributed by 20th Century Fox Television. It was later cancelled on February 26, 2000.

The series features a team based on the roster for the 1984 comic books series, The West Coast Avengers, composed of Ant-Man, Wasp, Wonder Man, Tigra, Hawkeye, Falcon Vision, and Scarlet Witch.

Plot

The series features a team broadly based on the roster of the 1984 Avengers spin-off series, The West Coast Avengers, composed of the Wasp, Wonder Man, Tigra, Hawkeye, and Scarlet Witch, led by Ant-Man, with Falcon and the Vision joining in the opening two part episode. For undermined reasons (perhaps due to their rights being tied up in planned movie projects), the Avengers' "Big Three" were not regular fixtures in the series - Captain America and Iron Man made only guest appearances in one episode each, while Thor did not appear outside titles. Captain America appears in one episode, "Command Decision". The story involves the Masters of Evil and a flashback to Captain America defeating Baron Zemo. Iron Man, meanwhile in the episode "Shooting Stars", helps the Avengers thwart the Zodiac's plans to send a radioactive satellite crashing to Earth.

The series features many of the Avengers' major comic book foes, including Ultron, Kang the Conqueror, Egghead, the Masters of Evil (consisting of Baron Helmut Zemo, Tiger Shark, Absorbing Man, Moonstone, Whirlwind, Boomerang, Cardinal, and Dragonfly), the Grim Reaper, and the Zodiac, as well as associated characters such as Swordsman, the Circus of Crime, Namor, the Sub-Mariner, Attuma, Agatha Harkness, and the Salem's Seven.

The show made several fan-friendly references to aspects of the characters' comic book history that were otherwise not expanded upon for the uninitiated, such as the Falcon and Captain America's partnership, Hawkeye's partial deafness or Namor's half-breed nature. Beyond this, however, the series bore little in the way of similarity to the comics, mainly due to it's wholesale redesign of the cast, characterized by asymmetrical costume design and the most infamous element of the series - Ant-Man, Wasp, Hawkeye and Falcon all wore suits of battle armor, which they donned in Super Sentai-inspired "power-up" sequences. Also in this incarnation, Tigra is an athlete who underwent genetic treatments to give her a competitive edge. These treatments went awry, leaving her with the form and abilities of a cat.

Production background

In 1997, Ronald Poindexter, the supervising executive producer in charge of animated series at Fox, approached two X-Men: The Animated Series writers named Robert N. Skir and Marty Isenberg to develop a proposal for an Avengers cartoon. After creating a detailed Bible that included a thirteen episode story arc, the network decided a Captain America series would be more suited to it's schedule. But before Fox could green light either series, Marvel went into bankruptcy, effectively ending the development process for all it's shows. It wasn't until after the publisher's financial woes were resolved in late 1998 that Poindexter revived interest in the Avengers project, using the series bible written by Robert N. Skir and Marty Isenberg: because Skir and Isenberg were already committed to spearhead Beast Machines: Transformers, the network approached former X-Men: The Animated Series story editor Eric Lewald and his wife, Julia, to come on board as story editors for the series. In January 1999, Fox finally gave the official go-ahead and Ron Myrick was hired to oversee the show's visual development.

As previously mentioned, the Avengers roster for the cartoon is loosely based upon the roster of the 1984 Avengers spin-off series The West Coast Avengers. Notably absent from the lineup are the traditional core members; Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor, who were originally prohibited from appearing in the series due to licensing issues. Story editor Eric Lewald has commented on their absence and had said "We want this to be a team of Avengers, instead of making it 'Captain America and the Avengers' or 'Thor and the Avengers'. We prefer to have a balanced team of superheroes rather than a superstar on the team." However, Captain America and Iron Man each each made one guest appearance (in "Command Decision" and "Shooting Stars", respectively), while Thor did not appear outside of the opening sequence.

The decision to pair Scarlet Witch and Wonder Man up as a couple was based upon the storyline then running in the Avengers comic in which Scarlet Witch resurrects Wonder Man to serve as her protector after an evil sorceress transforms the planet into a medieval world under her control. During their time together, the two fall in love and become a couple.

In the promotional images of the series, and the action figure photos, Hawkeye didn't wear a mask. However, in the series and the final version of the figure, he wore a mask similar to that he wore during the Avengers: The Crossing storyline.

The series was commissioned by Fox in the wake of the success of Batman Beyond. In order to attempt to emulate Batman Beyond, changes were made to the Avengers franchise as the series was set in the future. Myrick explained that they were "setting the series about twenty-five years in the future" and that "New York City will be a mix of future and contemporary looks, sort of the way the city looked in the movie Blade Runner (1982) but not as dark." While Avengers: United They Stand was meant to have a futuristic look to their world the Avengers inhabited a world that looked very modern with the exception of the technology. However, futuristic technology is seen in nearly every superhero cartoon. Because of this it could be assumed that Avengers: United They Stand takes place within the same timeline as the other Marvel Animated Universe shows.

The Avengers were also featured wearing elaborate armor costumes when they went into battle. Myrick explained, "The armor will give them the capability to go into different environments like extreme heat or cold, or underwater, or outer space, and it'll enhance their abilities. "The Avengers also featured an "A" on their costumes that was like a Star Trek comlink, where they could hit it and communicate with each other and the mansion's computer.

Cast

Main cast

Actor Role
Rod Wilson Ant-Man / Hank Pym
Linda Ballantyne Wasp / Janet Van Dyne
Tony Daniels Hawkeye / Clint Barton
Aries
Aquarius
Brutacus
Stavroula Logothettis Scarlet Witch / Wanda Maximoff
Martin Roach Falcon / Sam Williams
Ron Rubin Vision
Lenore Zann Tigra / Greer Grant Nelson
Harnish McEwan Wonder Man / Simon Williams
Graham Harley Edwin Jarvis
Ray Landry Raymond Sikorsky
Carolyn Larson Computer
Gerry Mendicino Tarus / Cornelius Van Lunt
John Stocker Ultron
Michael Yarmush Announcer

Additional voices

Actor Role
Dennis Akayama Dr. Chris Johnson
Philip Akin Attuma
Oliver Becker Absorbing Man
Wayne Best Scorpio
Mormand Bissonette Ringmaster
Dan Chameroy Captain America
Conrad Coates Remnant Leader
Rob Cowan Boomerang
Carlos Diaz Tiger Shark
Francis Diakowsky Iron Man
Paul Essiembre Swordsman
Nigel Hamer Gemini
(Male head)
Kan Kramer Kang the Conqueror
Robert Latimer Egghead
Julie Lemieux Gemini
(Female head)
Stephen Ouimette Nicholas Scratch
Susan Roman Moonstone
Dragonfly
Tate Roswell Andrew Wilson
Allan Royal Grim Reaper
Elizabeth Sheperd Agatha Harkness
Philip Sheperd Baron Zemo
Raoul Trujillo Namor, the Sub-Mariner
Peter Wildman Cardinal
Peter Windrem Whirlwind

Episodes

Proposed second season

Tentative plans for additional episodes featured Hawkeye's return to the carnival where he grew up as well as an episode that explores how the Scarlet Witch discovered her powers. Plans also included guest appearances by the X-Men, which would have utilized the cast from X-Men: The Animated Series since Tony Daniels (the second voice of Gambit) and Lenore Zann (Rogue) were already part of the main cast. Bruce Banner was also supposed to appear to help the Avengers when Ant-Man fell ill to gamma radiation exposure during a fight with Egghead, and a two part episode featuring Thor and his brother Loki. However, all plans were scrapped when the show was not renewed for a second season.

It is also possible that Tarus and the Zodaic would have returned since Fire and Rain, Part II ended with Tarus plotting his "final victory". It is possible that the Avengers would have finally defeated the Zodiac.

Reception

The series received negative reviews by the critics and fans. It holds a 5.2/10 rating at the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). It was heavily criticized for it's complimentary toy line. Each member of the Avengers wore special battle armors that weren't used in the show. This was due because producers of the show wanted to do different battle armors rather than using the Avengers' regular battle armors. However, TV.com was more positive, with a 7.3/10 rating.

Toys

Toy Biz released a line of action figures for the cartoon series. These figures included Ant-Man, Captain America, Falcon, Hawkeye, Kang, Tigra, Vision, Ultron, Wasp, and Wonder Man. Air Glider and Sky Cycle vehicle toys were also produced. In the promotional images of the series, and the action figure photos, Hawkeye didn't wear a mask. However, in the series and the final version of the figure, he wore a mask similar to what he wore during the Avengers: The Crossing storyline.

Comic book

The Avengers: United They Stand comic book series by Ty Templeton and Derec Aucoin was published to accompany the series. Dur to low sales it lasted only seven issues.

The first two issues are set before the series premiere, Avengers Assemble, Parts 1 & 2. Number 1 has the Avengers injured by an early version of Ultron. The issue was used to explain the armor worn by Hawkeye, Wasp and Falcon in the series, which uses Pym Particles to reduce the pain caused by injury. It is mentioned by Hawkeye that Hank built his own armor after his legs were broken by Dragon Man, and felt no pain in his legs until he removed the armor. Issue 3 takes place after the premier as the Vision is being interviewed about his membership. He is also briefed on how Wonder Man and Hawkeye joined the team.

The Black Panther would appear in issue 1, 6, and 7. In issue 1 he is among the Avengers who are injured by Ultron. Because of that, he refuses to rejoin the team until Hank steps down from being leader. Captain America appears in issue 6 and 7 as well. Quicksilver is mentioned twice in the series. In issue 1, Wanda is shown writing a letter to him. Issue 3 shows him in the flashback alongside Captain America, Hawkeye and scarlet Witch.

Additional characters

Other characters that appeared in the comic but not the show:

  • Black Widow
  • Baron Strucker
  • HYDRA
  • Black Knight
  • Doctor Doom
  • A.I.M.
  • The Collector

Connections to Spider-Man: The Animated Series

In Avengers Assemble, Part I, the Avengers look at a microfilm that has a Daily Bugle article on it.

In Comes a Swordsman, Hawkeye looks at a Daily Bugle newspaper that has an article about him quitting the Avengers.

Opening

Avengers_United_They_Stand_intro-1

Avengers United They Stand intro-1

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