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Is Avengers’ Movie Success Worth Killing Earth’s Mightiest Heroes?

At what point does corporate synergy start becoming ridiculous? I find myself wondering that question upon the announcement of Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, the new animated series that will replace the current Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes series because… it’s closer to the movie, apparently? Maybe? But is that enough reason to kill a successful show?

That latter question may be something that only has an entirely subjective answer, of course, depending on just how much you loved either the Avengers movie or the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes cartoon. This isn’t the first time that a popular Marvel cartoon has met an untimely death after a couple of seasons – Greg Weisman’s Spectacular Spider-Man also disappeared after two years in order to make way for Marvel’s new Ultimate Spider-Man, but at least in that case there were operational considerations that made the switch slightly more understandable (For those with memories as short as mine, those were: Disney bought Marvel, the Spider-Man TV rights were reclaimed by Marvel from Sony, and Marvel TV was created as a division for the purpose of creating its own television programming as opposed to continuing to license its characters). Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, on the other hand, was already a fully-owned Marvel property, one of Marvel’s first such projects, and one that was already airing on Disney XD a la Ultimate Spider-Man (The two air in the same “Marvel Universe” Sunday morning block). So… what was wrong with it, exactly…?

The stated reason for the cancellation/new series move seems to be that Avengers Assemble will be closer to the amazingly successful movie in terms of tone and atmosphere. Marvel TV boss Jeph Loeb described the new show as being “a brand new and really extraordinary looking animated series dealing with the Avengers in that same world [as the movie],” suggesting that Earth’s Mightiest Heroes just wasn’t the kind of thing that would hook in people who loved the movie… but, in the same interview, Loeb also teases Hulk and The Agents of SMASH, a Hulk team project that’s roughly a million miles from Mark Ruffalo’s angry alter ego, and Ultimate Spider-Man isn’t exactly step-by-step with next month’s Amazing Spider-Man. So, apparently, the need for cross-media synergy isn’t there for every project.

It might be easy to plump for the much-shared “Jeph Loeb didn’t like EMH because it was created before he got to the company” theory, but let’s be honest, that’s more than a little simplistic; shows are rarely cancelled on such personal whims, especially not when they’re doing well. Losing EMH is certainly a calculated risk on Marvel’s part, don’t get me wrong. After all, it’s not as if it was a failure as a series, either in terms of ratings or fan response, so killing the series only two years in with the hope that the next attempt will be even better feels either confident, optimistic or a quick way to piss off a number of fans (Already, the internet is filled with those declaring themselves “done” with Marvel as a result of the decision, with Marvel’s CCO Joe Quesada re-tweeting a former fan declaring that he hoped Quesada would die of AIDS as a result of the decision).

The bet, I’d guess, is that the Avengers movie has (out-)performed to such an extent that it’s coloring the way that Marvel considers the brand outside of the core comics audience (and even there, Avengers Assemble – there’s that title again – was created as a monthly title to focus on the team from the movie), creating a nervousness about how far other versions can stray from the movie without losing the intangible but clear appeal of the movie that will, at least temporarily, restrict anything that doesn’t have a core of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye and Black Widow for the foreseeable future. We know – and, more importantly, so do Marvel – that Spider-Man is a malleable character, who can appeal as long as the core characteristics are present; the same is true of the Hulk, to a lesser extent. But the Avengers…? No-one really has a grasp on why they work for mass audiences yet, and until they do, I think we’re going to see much less variation in their depiction.

Was it cowardice, then, that killed Earth’s Mightiest Heroes? Not really; nervousness and a (perhaps well-placed) belief that, as successful as the show was, a different take on the same idea that follows the lead of the movie may be more of a success, perhaps, but making the decision to pull EMH, knowing the backlash such a decision would bring is anything but cowardly. Like I said, it’s a calculated risk. If only to reward them for not taking the easy route – Assemble will have to go far to win over those upset by the end of EMH, after all – I really hope it’s one that pays off.

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Comments

  • http://twitter.com/WeaponXIX Chris Katrev

    Avengers Earth’s Mightiest Heroes deserves more seasons.

  • http://twitter.com/ComputerSci5 Cory Jameson

    Whatever the case for the cancellation, I bet the reincarnation will be ass

  • RunnerX13

    It’s not like this new series will be out now when the Avengers movie is still on everyone’s minds.  They’d be lucky to have the show complete by time Avengers II rolls out.  They could have continued with the current show, and just make that more similar to the movies.  And I really don’t get how this will benefits them much; the kids that they want buying the toys either won’t realize or won’t care that the new animated Iron Man acts slightly more like Robert Downey Jr.  Reminds me of when the X-Men went to the all black costumes after the first movie, and we all remember how well received that was.

  • Bass Guitar Hero

    To me, it seems more of a case of trying to tie all of their shows together in the same universe like they’re trying to do with all of their movies.

  • Fillerbunny

    Obviously, Marvel is as clueless to the lack of synergy as DC- the people that see the movies are not going to jump into the comic or an animated series.  The comics should stay true to themselves and their history (even if rebooted) and fuel ideas for movies. The animated series are great ways to distill convoluted continuity and make the older stories accessible to newer audiences.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Curefreak Daniel Wheeler

     But earth’s mightiest heroes already feels like it has some close ties to the movie with Tony Stark sounding very similar to RDJ.

    And Hawkeye is a shield agent who was partners with Black Widow.

    And Hulk is on the team

  • http://piercingmetal.com/wordpress/ Ken Pierce

    I really liked the episodes that I saw and am sad to see it ending, especially after being so popular.  One can only hope that the discussed “Avengers Assemble” will be good.  I will remain skeptical.

  • Joseph Howard

    I heard that Loeb wanted to make the Avengers cartoon closer in tone with the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, not the movies.

  • http://twitter.com/p_keely Patrick Keely

    The line up in EMH was pretty similar to the ones in the movie.  I’m pretty sure that the fans would have accepted line up changes just like we all did when the comics changed the team line ups every fourth issue.  The worst part about this is that we’ll have to go through the origin story again…

  • http://twitter.com/DaQuantumFro DaMarico Fowler

    To answer your question Hell Yes; I’m sorry only way I could accept Avengers Assembled is if it has a major upgrade in character design and action; and has ties to EMH which balanced both new Marvel and original stories. On a side note I can see why somebody is pushing out large chunks of the show from Australia

  • RunnerX13

    And kick ass in general. 

  • mea.glitch

    It appears that Marvel hasn’t been handling fan reaction to this and USM very well as of late….

    http://www.marveltvnews.com/2012/06/03/is-marvel-censoring-the-ultimate-spider-man-cartoon-criticism/

  • Devil_Dinosaur

    They’re pandering to infant ADHD casualties.  
    Ultimate Spider-Man, virtually unwatchable by anyone over 11, is apparently a huge ratings hit, so they’re shit-canning the best cartoon Marvel’s ever done to make more crap for the ridelin set.

    I’m always amazed by this dumbing-down of the concepts and characters for kids, because it was the relative sophistication and realism (to my infant brain) that drew me to them in the first place. Agents of S.M.A.S.H. indeed!

  • http://twitter.com/JBru4 Jay B

    This is why Marvel has been ‘The House of Bad Ideas’ for a while. 

  • HopelessSavage

     A better idea would have been to cancel Ultimate Spider-Man and make a new series in the same universe as EMH.

  • bob

    well its disney trying to change the marvel universe into its own like for example spiderman was created a year before iron man and 21 years before the avengers so he can be a rookie and look up to the avengers and also he has been around longer then iron man iron man should be looking up to spiderman if anything and also i don’t get why they are trying to change an already successful universe i am surprised stan lee is ok with all of these changes and crappy shows being made about most of his creations. lastly i don’t get why disney is trying to change the original roster of the avengers it is perfectly fine the way it was and shouldn’t be messed with am i right.

  • bob

    its all disneys falt and also the new hulk series looks like it is messed up too.

  • bob

    ya stupid disney trying to create a disney version of the marvel universe when they should leave it alone it is perfectly fine and i am getting the feeling they want marvel to fail cause this is like pure sabotage.

  • bob

    well they can’t because its disneys call cause they own marvel studios which produces all of this stuff not marvel comics which writes the comics.

  • bob

    yes it does but it is in the way of disneys big stupid changes to the marvel universe and has to go mickey mouse should go back to his club house and let the heroes do it their way.

  • bob

    its going to suck like all of the other reincarnations and i bet they are working on a crappy xmen show too.

  • bob

    they should just add falcon to the team and in the comics after the secret invasion that was around the time the black widow and mocking bird both joined the avengers.

  • bob

    ya but still it is going to suck

  • bob

    well its disney putting their stupid changes in and just killing all of the things that are good.

  • bob

    ya it should the comics are the basis for the animated show and the show should just be an easier way to act it out than pictures but they shouldn’t be used to change the whole universe itself.

  • bob

    well hulk is one of the original 5 in the comics so obviously and before hawkeye was shield agent he was with this circus that were crimals that he relized and those were his universes set enemies they should of made a movie of and expressed in the tv show and also when he joined shield the black widow was his partner in the comics and he work with mocking  bird which is another thing the movies did wrong they didn’t even set up for mockingbird’s character.

  • bob

    ya the old guys need to stay and teach the new guys so they don’t screw up the wwhole marvel universe.

  • bob

    ok that makes no sense and there shouldn’t be a comprimise they should hold their ground and not let disney change and ruin the marvel universe.

  • bob

    ya and also we should ask for a real reincarnation of spiderman show and the hulk tv show they both are stupid and need to be brought back towards the comics we want real shows that actually explain the comics.

  • bob

    ya its stupid and also why isn’t he playing hawkeye right we need to see his actual background with the circus and a movie with that introducing all of his universes enimies and also those in the tv series too and also why hasn’t he put the mandarin in an iron man movie because the mandarin is iron man’s arch enemy and also one of the most powerful villans and also gargoyle is the leaders right hand man and a major enemy of the hulk why isn’t he in the movies or more importanly the tv series.

  • bob

    i know all this bull going around and all of these stupid changes to the universe we should let them change the universe we love so much we need to boycotte this or something stand up.

  • bob

    well from the roster choice i can tell it will suck because they are getting rid of 2 major avengers that started the teams ant man and wasp who help found the team and had a big part with dealing with the villans.

  • bob

    well usm sucks because they put him on a team and spiderman doesn’t do teams except with some help from the black cat every once and a while but stile this show i can tell will suck and same with the new hulk series.

  • bob

    no thats how it happened in the comis with all of those avengers and also it is rwally good and lastly this new series is set up to destroy and change the marvel universe.

  • bob

    no it wasn’t set up to match the movies it was set up to match the comics and that is what made it great and this new one is just going to suck

  • bob

    ya her and antman are a part of the avengers that cant be replaced and have to be there in order for it to be successful and it is just stupid what they are doing.

  • bob

    its all disney trying to make their changes but we cant let them kill good things enough is enough we cant let them do it marvel shouldn’t let them and i 4get the name of the guy but he was in charge of the movies and planned of have antman and wasp movie and have them in avengers 1 but was fired as soon as disney took over and replaced by loeb as disney’s puppet in the whole entire movie movement so that their input and changes are made which shouldn’t be allowed.

  • bob

    the reason is mickey mouses tampering gloves that try to change everything and it is stupid shit that we can’t let happen

  • bob

    well this is disney trying to change the whole history of the avengers like next thing you know they will set their eyes on messing up the fantastic four and such and emh was set up to tell the story of the comics which everyone knows is what made it successful.

  • bob

    ya and also i can’t believe what they are about to do to the hulk to.

  • bob

    well i just think disney is over stepping their bounds and is destroying everything that made marvel great.

  • bob

    well for me the avengers are hank pym wasp hulk iron man thor cap the black panther hawkeye and vision plus wounderman but i think quicksilver and the scarlet which plus tigra were pushing it and i think the black widow and mocking bird are fine and also falcon but not are the core team.

  • bob

    but stupid and they should just stick with emh because it is very successful and wont fail because there is still a lot to tell in the marvel universe like hawkeyes ebtire backgroung basically and all of his villains.

  • bob

    actually i think that its doing fine the way it is and all they needed to do was wait to have the black widow join the team because it was right there at the perfect spot for her to join since the secret invasion is over now.

  • bob

    well i didn’t like how they have shield over stepping their bounds in the show and the movie i think shield is disney in their universe because disney is have shield over step its boundsin all of its new shows like spiderman doesn’t come into contact until much later in his caree as a super hero

  • bob

    well i think the roster should be changed because it takes away a lot from a lot of the big stroy archs created in the comics like ultron which would never of happen for antman which also would never of had the vision created either a mojor hero

  • bob

    ya that show will suck too they are changing some of the villains to heros thats not going to work they need to start form the day the hulk become the hulk and continue from there.

  • bob

    nope its disneys falt for that.

  • bob

    ya they should put out better shows to replace the stuff not worse stuff that has no logic lets stop the good stuff and replace it with shit no we want good shows that act out the original comics

  • Scaramantula

    not even one mention of wolverine and the x-men? that show got the it worst of all the shows, cause they had already started season 2 when it got cancelled, and still now word of a new x-men show? i want to see age of apocalypse.

  • Dale Morgan8

    Is my 12 year old daughter making the decisions? Let’s base if off of one movie that really avoided marvel real marvel history. I wish time warner would buy disney and put it down.

  • bob

    ya that was when the people who did emh tried working with nick didn’t work so well but if one is made with all of these current reincarnations it going to suck and praboly there will be a sucky version of the fantastic four

  • bob

    ya like it is stupid how they are changing the whole story from the begining of the avengers.

  • Bibbitybaggins

    Lets not forget that the fantastic 616 Nick Fury was replaced with a black man for no reason. They decided to just get rid of a great character because of the stupid movie.

  • Wayfarer073

    Actually, the Marvel cinematic and animated universe are loosely based on the Ultimate Universe not the 616 universe.  In the Ultimate Universe, Nick Fury is black.  Although, we now have a 616 counterpart in Nick Fury’s son, as seen in the Battle Scars mini-series.   I just read the synposis for the rest of the season 2 and I am disappointed that we won’t get to see where they would have gone next with the series.  So far, we got a version of Avengers Under Seige, Secret Invasion, and the Kree/Skrull War.   

  • Aemh

    So are they even going to finish season 2?

  • FrankSpider

    Some pretty intelligent ideas in this article, however I still maintain that Marvel cancelling EMH was a highly UNintelligent move. Firstly, it’d be pretty stupid of them to think that the appeal of the Avengers movie was purely due to the characters that were included in the lineup (as an aspiring filmmaker I’m pretty sure it was due to the writing and direction!) Secondly, why would they think that the all the people who watched the movie are gonna be the people who watch the cartoon? It’s a totally different demographic! (with the exception of kids and hardcore fanboys) Bottom line, Marvel had a highly successful show in their lap and they’ve flushed it down the toilet for something that could turn out to not be half as good. Genius. 

  • Mike

    I think you guys have it back words, the avengers movie wasn’t a hit because of the new direction or concept–it was a hit because of the core stories and characters started in the comics. Fans of marvel comics and cartoons already know that great stories and great acting makes for great movies or a great product. You don’t want to make more of the same because that will become old hat(and we know what happens to things that become old hat). You(marvel) should want to expand your product. The Avengers, earth’s mightiest heroes does this.

    I saw the movie twice already–my thought wasn’t that i want to see more of this universe, but was now, the general public will see the appeal of the cartoons, comics and toys.

  • Maricia1960

    Really? You guy’s really messed up this time! You screwed up with the cancellation of Wolverine and the X-men!! We the fans are getting tired of this now. A perfectly good show like EMH should have been allowed to develop further given it’s success your making a huge mistake…..

  • Randyfaria

    screw marvel.. this has ULTIMATELY pissed me off. No longer will I watch once season two is over. This includes comics. Marvel, you’ve lost a long time fan with this idioitic move

  • Randyfaria

     I am so annoyed will not even watch the spidey movie. Dark Knight, here I come!

  • Junglebunny

    Why are they so fucking stupid, this literally makes no sense. The Avengers movie was as successful as it was because it was so enormously hyped up before release that it would have been basically impossible for anybody to not know it was the must see film of the foreseeable century. I mean, it had like 5 equally successful movies which basically served as extravagant trailers. I hope this new series fails even if it is good just for being such an appalling cash grab and I hope everyone involved in its production gets eaten by sharks.

  • Jepheatscock

    You’re assuming Jeph isn’t a self-absorbed asshole when it comes to such decisions. It’s exactly the reason you dismiss … Jeph didn’t have a hand in it, so he had to get rid of it.