Disney’s ‘Avengers’ Cartoons Introduce Kids To Marvel’s Phase 3 Movie Heroes … – Forbes

If you had asked most would-be moviegoers my age about where the majority of their X-Men fandom came from during the lead-up to the first X-Men movie fifteen summers ago, they would have likely started humming the theme song to X-Men animated series that aired on Fox Kids from 1992 to 1997. I bring this up as a reaction to an interesting press release that Marvel tossed out on Monday. The two big Disney XD Marvel animated shows are undergoing a title change.  Ultimate Spider-Man will enter its fourth season as Ultimate Spider-Man vs. The Sinister Six, which gives you a pretty good idea of what will go down. The Avengers Assembles animated series will enter its third season as Avengers: Ultron Revolution. The interesting part is that the new season will introduce Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and Ms. Marvel while giving an expanded presence for Ant-Man. If three of the four new heroes sound familiar, it’s because they are three of the four superheroes getting stand-alone movies over the next few years in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Now Dr. Strange is obviously missing from the list, and Ms. Marvel is theoretically not going to be in the films anytime soon. If I may digress, Ms. Marvel’s inclusion is a big deal as she will be Kamala Khan. The somewhat groundbreaking and justly celebrated character (a Pakistani-American Muslin from New Jersey carrying the mantle of Ms. Marvel) will be making her animated debut. This means Kamala Khan, whose comics debut won both critical raves and white-hot sales, will be introduced to a deluge of young superhero fans who love superhero cartoons but would hardly ever consider picking up a comic book. For why that darn well matters, I’ll let Siddhant Adlakha of Birth.Movies.Death. fill you in accordingly. Oh, and that fourth Spider-Man season will feature a co-starring/supporting role for Miles Morales, the African-American/Hispanic Spider-Man who debuted in Brian Michael Bendis’s Ultimate Spider-Man several years back.

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That’s not quite what this post is about, but it was too big of a deal to ignore.

Anyway, Marvel and Disney are using their animated shows, which are popular and relatively well-liked in their own right. I prefer Spectacular Spider-Man and Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, but that’s life. Speaking of which, I watched Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, with its hilarious 80′s-style superhero theme song and all, with my daughter when it originally aired before and after The Avengers. Come what may, the show provided a thorough education into the wonkier and/or freakier aspects of the Marvel universe. It was thanks to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes that I knew who Ultron was, and it is because of the show that I knew to be pissed that The Wasp isn’t going to be in the Ant-Man movie. And Ultimate Spider-Man had a whole episode around those Guardians of the Galaxy a year before Guardians of the Galaxy came out, with a return visit just months prior to the film’s debut.

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes ended a few years ago, which means a whole new generation of young kids will enjoy Avengers Assembles and Ultimate Spider-Man just as (for example) I devoured Fox’s Spider-Man and X-Men cartoons back in the 1990′s.  It was thanks to those cartoons, especially X-Men, that moviegoers my age (give-or-take-a-generation) were excited by Bryan Singer’s X-Men movie despite having little experience with the respective comic books. Kids today may not know who Black Panther, Captain Marvel, or Ant-Man are. But kids who are going to be watching the new season of the new show will be getting the appropriate introductions and indoctrination, as will their parents, just in time for the Phase Three movies that highlight said characters.

As I’ve discussed from time-to-time, the film, television, and video game adaptations of these heroes and villains are of absolute importance when it comes to establishing an audience of fans willing to race to the theater to see said characters in live-action and/or big screen glory. There is are generations of fans who become students of the DC Comics universe because of the various DC Animated Universe shows that ran from 1992 to 2006. Disney is making the smart play to establish these new heroes early in the hearts and minds of the youngest would-be moviegoers. Marvel’s Phase 3 is critical for the long-term health of the film universe, as they have to sell audiences on a bunch of new and less well-known heroes as the original crew takes something of a swan song for Avengers: Infinity War part I and II.

Captain Marvel (the MCU’s first female superhero to get her own movie), Black Panther (the first black superhero to get his own film), Ant-Man, and Dr. Strange are the future of the MCU. Maybe Miles Morales and/or Ms. Marvel will be too, but that’s for another day. Disney and Marvel are using the all-important animated offshoots not just as an artistic and merchandising outlet for the characters to which they now own the rights. They are using the cartoons as an introduction in the hopes that the so-called “new” heroes will already feel like old friends by the time the movies roll around. It’s a sign that they have learned the lesson of the 1990′s superhero cartoon craze, an era that turned a generation of kids into X-Men junkies and Spider-Man experts who are also now psyched to see Harley Quinn live onscreen. For as long as there are popular animated shows featuring the various DC and Marvel superheroes, there will be a new batch of moviegoers excited to see them in live-action in a dark theater.

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