I’m gonna be doing episode summaries for an imaginary Avengers cartoon, á la Bones and her DC stuff.
Genius inventor Tony Stark, publicly known to be the crimefighting armored Iron Man, is hosting a party at Stark Tower when two known supercriminals, Whiplash and Blizzard, break in. Tony dons his armor, clears out the civilians, and goes to town, making quick work of the two. The room is wrecked, and the building’s head custodian Edwin Jarvis remarks on how long it will take to clean up.
Later that night, Tony begins to do some detective work, tracing Blizzard and Whiplash’s history and attempting to determine who sent them and what they wanted. Tony’s girlfriend, Pepper Potts, remarks that Tony is hitting dead end after dead end, and suggests that he needs to change his approach and think about other details of the incident—such as who else was at the party. Tony shouts “Of course!”, kisses Pepper, and begins to study security camera footage from the party. He notices one woman who did not match any face on the guest list, and he cross-references her face with social media and SHIELD databases. He notices a connection with a company called Ten Rings, Inc., for which he cannot find any information other than an office building in Shanghai.
The next day, Tony and Pepper visit Shanghai to find Ten Rings, Inc. They go to the office building and find out that it appears to be a tech startup, founded by a man named Zhang Tong. Said founder turns Tony away, informing him that he has no right to snoop in the affairs of his company, and chastising Americans in general for thinking the entire world is their business.
Frustrated and embarrassed, Tony decides to check his digital security systems to see if any of the servers in Stark Tower have been tampered with. He notices an alert on the server containing something called the “Tron project,” (named after the movie) which Tony informs Pepper is an old failed experiment from back when he was flirting with the idea of artificial intelligence. A video message from Zhang Tong pops up, where he mocks Tony’s arrogance and warns him of his coming downfall, then says that Zhang Tong isn’t his real name and that Tony can call him “the Mandarin.” The message deletes itself, leaving Tony with no proof.
Suddenly, one of Tony’s suits enters the room, apparently of its own volition. It attacks Tony and Pepper, so they flee, but are confronted by more suits of armor wherever they go. Tony brings Pepper to the tower’s basement, where he keeps the Mark I armor that he made when imprisoned by terrorists. He dons the primitive armor and fights off the other suits, wrecking a lot of the tower along the way. After only the newest suit is left, it very nearly kills Tony, but Jarvis comes in at the last minute and splashes cleaning chemicals on it, eating through the metal and causing it to short out.
The next day, Tony receives a distress call from the scientist Hank Pym. He suits up and flies off.
LL Cool J – “Mama Said Knock You Out” for the fight against Whiplash and Blizzard
Black Sabbath – “Iron Man” for the fight against the controlled suits of armor
Thor, the Norse god of thunder, has been exiled to Earth/Midgard. He has grown to like the realm, and has begun fighting crime with his magic hammer. He lives with his girlfriend Jane Foster, a paramedic, who pays the rent all by herself. One day, while Thor is sitting in a recliner eating fried chicken, Jane raises the subject of him getting a job. Thor initially dismisses the idea, saying that any Earthly job would be beneath him, but Jane presses on, showing him an online posting looking for strong men to work on a construction site. She tells Thor that he should help out financially, so he grudgingly agrees to take the job.
Elsewhere, Loki approaches another worker, Dirk Gathwaite from the same construction site, offering him power beyond his wildest dreams. Gathwaite is suspicious, and asks if there’s a catch. Loki says that he’ll just need to do one job for him, and that it won’t even be difficult. Gathwaite accepts.
Thor heads off to work the next day, adopting the identity of Donald Blake. Jane insists that he leave his hammer at home, as it would look suspicious. Thor impresses the foreman with his strength, and does a good job. On his way back home, though, Gathwaite approaches Thor with a crowbar and attacks. Thor is cocky at first, thinking that no mortal can beat him, but the crowbar turns out to be superpowered much like Mjolnir. Thor is beaten within an inch of his life and dropped in a dumpster. He manages to get his phone out and call Jane, who comes quickly and administers emergency medical aid. She takes Thor back home, where they see on the news that the worker who attacked Thor, now dubbed “Wrecker,” has begun assaulting others and robbing stores. Thor realizes that this must be his brother Loki’s doing, so he takes his hammer and sets out to find Wrecker.
Thor confronts Wrecker at the scene of a bank robbery. They fight for a while outside the bank, but Thor comes out ahead and turns Wrecker in to the police. The policeman who takes him away, however, turns out to be Loki in disguise. Loki gathers three of Gathwaite’s friends, and gives them a magical helmet, wrecking ball, and giant fists, dubbing the foursome the Wrecking Crew. The four attack Jane and Thor’s apartment building, where they attack the building’s walls and attempt to cause it to crumble. Jane and Thor emerge, Jane removing the injured from the building and getting them to safety, and Thor attacking the Wrecking Crew. He has trouble taking on four enemies at once, until he realizes that three of the four gain all their powers from their weapons. Thor catches Thunderball’s wrecking ball and takes it from him, using it to knock Wrecker’s crowbar out of his hands, then using the crowbar to pry off Bulldozer’s helmet. Thor throws the three weapons far from the scene of the fight, leaving himself with only Piledriver to contend with. He takes Piledriver out quickly, and goes to find Jane. The episode ends with Thor reassuring Jane that he’ll find an even better job than the construction site.
Blind Guardian – “Twilight of the Gods” for the final fight against the Wrecking Crew
In 2008, SHIELD takes HYDRA operative Natasha Romanov, codenamed Black Widow, captive. She is given a choice—life in prison, or helping SHIELD agents infiltrate HYDRA. She chooses the mission, and over the next 8 years, a montage shows her going on more SHIELD missions and gaining the organization’s trust, eventually becoming their most valued agent.
In 2016, she is given a mission to infiltrate a circus-themed gang and bring in their leader, the Ringmaster. Black Widow takes on the guise of trapeze artist Miranda Looper, and assists the circus in a minor robbery. She manages to befriend their purple-clad archer Clint Barton, known as Hawkeye, and the two impress each other with their respective skills. Back at the tent that serves as their base, Natasha attempts to gather intel on Ringmaster. She sees Ringmaster using a hat with a hypnotic swirl on it to brainwash the other circus members. Horrified, she attempts to report what he’s doing back to SHIELD. Clint catches her talking into a radio, and he ties her legs with a bola arrow. Natasha tells Clint that Ringmaster has brainwashed him, which he refuses to believe. She hops over to him and begins to fight with her legs still tied. The two tangle for a while before Natasha gains the upper hand and pins Clint to the floor. Impressed, Clint tells her she has 30 seconds to convince him before he yells for help. Natasha tells him that she saw Ringmaster hypnotize the clown and the strongman with his hat. Clint is horrified to think that he might be mind-controlled, so he agrees to help Natasha. The two develop a plan to bring Ringmaster down at their next show.
In a small town, the circus performs for a rural audience. Right before Ringmaster attempts to hypnotize the audience to take their money, Natasha swings from the trapeze and grabs the hat. She swings back up and throws it into the air, where Clint destroys it with an arrow. Furious, Ringmaster yells at the strongmen and clowns to take out the two interlopers. Still brainwashed, they attack Clint and Natasha, the strongmen with their fists and the clowns with shock buzzers and acid-spitting flowers. The fight lasts a few minutes, but Clint and Natasha come out on top. Ringmaster then looses the circus’s lion, who pounces on Natasha. Clint knocks him off with a boxing glove arrow, causing Natasha to ask “Why do you even have that?” Clint responds “It worked, didn’t it?” and Natasha shrugs. She apologizes to the lion as she shocks him with her electric wrist weapon, knocking him out. Clint is then ambushed by the circus’s fire-spitter, who scorches Clint’s outfit before Natasha knocks him to the floor with a kick. With all the circus members taken out, Natasha handcuffs the Ringmaster, causing the audience to clap and cheer for the two heroes.
Leaving the tent, Clint remarks that he’s out of a job. Natasha says she has an idea, and the show cuts forward to 2018, where we see Agents Black Widow and Hawkeye working for SHIELD as partners.
Animal Collective – “Peacebone” for the circus fight scene
Sitting alone in his apartment, gamma scientist Bruce Banner morosely watches a TV report on the Hulk and his latest rampage. The anchor refers to Hulk as “public enemy number one,” and Bruce nods his head. His roommate Rick Jones comes in to comfort him, saying that he shouldn’t blame himself for what the Hulk does, but Bruce insists that there must be a cure that he just hasn’t found yet. Bruce then heads off to attend a physics symposium, and Rick decides to tag along, saying that he has nothing better to do that day.
The two watch a lecture on a new form of electrical generator called ZZZAX, but a careless janitor with earbuds in knocks the prototype over, causing it to generate a growing electrical field. A closeup shot of his nametag reveals the janitor’s name as Samuel Sterns. People begin to panic and run out of the convention center, but Bruce runs to the lecturer’s aid, and Rick follows. The lecturer asks if Bruce knows any way to disable the generator and cancel the electric field, and Bruce theorizes that an intense gamma pulse delivered directly to the generator’s surface would cause the field to dissipate. The lecturer points out that no one would be able to get inside the field (which is now approaching the ceiling) without being killed. Rick looks at Bruce, then tells the lecturer to leave. The lecturer obeys, and Rick says to Bruce, “You know what you need to do.” Bruce refuses, saying that the police or Iron Man or someone could handle it. Rick insists that Hulk is the only one who can save the day, and begins to insult Bruce, calling him a coward for not doing something that could save hundreds of people. Just then, the electric field expands to absorb the lecturer, and then takes humanoid form. Rick continues to hurl insults at Bruce, eventually leading Bruce to yell “SHUT UP!” Bruce then realizes what’s happening, and attempts to calm down, but inevitably becomes his big green friend.
Hulk leaps in the air and attempts to punch ZZZAX. He whiffs, as one cannot punch electricity, and becomes even angrier. Hulk takes another strike, this time hitting the generator at ZZZAX’s center, but is shocked to a degree that harms even him. Rick remembers the theory about a gamma pulse, and frantically searches the convention center for anything with the word “gamma.” He finds an exhibit labeled “Gamma Hot Dog Cooker,” switches it on, and throws it at ZZZAX. It disintegrates and ZZZAX is unharmed. Hulk is still attempting to break the generator that hurt him, and is getting shocked over and over again. ZZZAX grows tall enough to break through the roof, and Rick realizes he has to come up with a solution fast. He finds a “Gamma Dry Cleaner” and fires it at Hulk on full blast, hoping it will irradiate him enough to disable the generator. Hulk starts running at Rick, enraged at being shot with the dry cleaner, and Rick runs to the other side of ZZZAX. He climbs up the curtain on the stage, and Hulk leaps at him, hitting the generator before he can touch Rick. The generator is disabled, and ZZZAX dissipates. Exhausted, Hulk transforms back into Bruce just as military forces led by Thunderbolt Ross arrive. Ross asks what happened to the electric monster, and what Bruce Banner is doing unconscious with his clothes torn. Rick claims that Iron Man saved the day but left before anyone could talk to him, and that Bruce is wearing torn clothes as a fashion statement. Rick wakes Bruce up and leads him away, and Janitor Sterns, still obliviously cleaning and listening to music, notices the Gamma Dry Cleaner. He turns it on out of curiosity, and a patch of green appears on his forehead.
Guns’N’Roses – “Welcome to the Jungle” when Hulk initially attacks ZZZAX
In 2017, a team of Arctic researchers find a plane preserved in the ice, with WWII hero Captain America inside. To their shock, the Captain is still breathing. They take him back to their base, where they wake him up and feed him. Captain America immediately asks where he is and what’s been happening in the war, and the scientists tell him that he’s been in suspended animation for decades. Shocked, Captain America wonders aloud what he’s going to do with his life, and asks the scientists if they can take him to New York and not tell anyone who he is.
In 2018, Captain America is living under his civilian identity as Steve Rogers in Brooklyn. He lives a quiet life, working in a factory and keeping to himself. A cashier at the grocery store remarks that he looks just like Captain America, but Steve dismisses it. While leaving the store, Steve overhears a woman making a serpent-like hiss and showing some document to a man in a binder. Sensing trouble, Steve stealthily follows the two. He overhears something about a “society,” but loses their trail and decides it isn’t a big deal.
Back at his apartment building, Steve is doing laundry when he sees on TV that a group dressed as serpents has taken hostages in a train station and is demanding money from the city. Steve recognizes the man and woman from before. Steve’s neighbor Rick Jones is also there doing his laundry, and Steve tells him that he’s dealing with a dilemma. He tells Rick that some bad things are happening that he could have stopped, but he’s scared to do what needs to be done. Rick tells him that everyone has to do what they believe is right, no matter what. He then gives a quote from one of his personal idols, Captain America, who once said “This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences.” Shaken, Steve makes a decision. He runs back to his apartment, retrieves his uniform and shield, and goes to the train station.
The Serpent Society laughs when Steve enters, believing him to be a cosplayer doing some kind of performance art. Bushmaster pulls out a gun and fires at him, but he raises his shield and deflects the bullets. He then runs for the hostages, using his shield to cut their ropes and telling them to run while he handles the criminals. The Serpents rush at him, but Steve outmatches each of them hand-to-hand and knocks them out. Eventually only Viper is left, and she attempts to win Steve’s pity by saying the other Serpents forced her to join the gang. Steve is caught off guard, and she uses the opportunity to bite his shoulder with venomous fangs. Steve knocks her out with one punch, calls the police, and goes to find an antidote before he succumbs to the venom. He rushes through the city street, and is mobbed by onlookers, whom he continually pushes past. When he finally reaches a hospital and is given an antivenom, a reporter who heard about the Captain America appearance approaches him. Steve answers the reporter by telling the whole story—that he is the real Steve Rogers, that he was trapped in an iceberg for decades, and that he re-emerged because America needed him. He then announces that Captain America is back for good, and that the bad guys had better watch out.
Benny Goodman – “Sing Sing Sing” for the fight against the Serpent Society
Renowned physicist Hank Pym, inventor of size-changing Pym particles, fights bacteria larger than him from inside a Petri dish. His girlfriend Janet Van Dyne is also there, using Hank’s “Wasp” suit to fly and shoot electric blasts at the bacteria. Janet chastises Hank for getting them into this situation, and Hank replies that he didn’t know the bacteria would be hostile, and that if they can hold out a little longer then he’ll be able to extract the molecule he needs. He takes the molecule from a bacterium’s cell membrane, and the two grow back to normal size and leave the Petri dish. Janet looks at the time on her phone and realizes that they’re about to be late for their dinner reservation. She drags Hank out of the lab and has his robotic assistant Utility Lackey (or UL) get them both a change of clothes, and they get to the restaurant just in time.
At dinner, Hank asks Janet how her job at the fashion company is going. She says it’s fine, but that it’s nowhere near as exciting as being microscopic and fighting giant bacteria. Hank says he’s thankful that she helps out in the lab, and that he has a new plan for their biggest adventure yet. He tells Janet about “Microverse theory,” the idea that subatomic particles could contain portals to another universe and that shrinking small enough could allow them to enter that new universe. Janet is enthusiastic.
The next day, Hank and Janet prepare for their Microverse trip. Janet makes sure to pack food and changes of clothes, while Hank focuses on having scientific instruments to gather information about the Microverse. They shrink down and Janet flies them through the portal, landing them in a world they’ve never seen.
The Microverse appears to be futuristic, with humanoids of many different colors walking around and flying in jetpacks. Hank pulls out a Stark-branded translator device and attempts to talk to one of the people, but the person flees, saying only “Psycho-Man! Psycho-Man!”
Hank and Janet are soon taken away by Microverse police, who bring them to a throne room. The man in the throne introduces himself as Psycho-Man, and welcomes Hank and Janet, saying that he knows they’re from another world. Psycho-Man reveals himself as a human who came to the Microverse in Hank and Janet’s future, but who came to the Microverse’s past due to time being different in the two worlds. He says that he rules the Microverse, and that he has used his emotion-controlling technology to make the natives universally adore him. Janet asks why he’s telling them this, and Psycho-Man responds that he wants friends who understand him and who he doesn’t need to control to rule with him. Janet insists that what he’s doing is wrong, and Hank agrees. Psycho-Man sighs and says he’ll have to do this the hard way. He shoots Janet with a ray gun and tells her “You hate your boyfriend more than anything in the world, and you love me unconditionally.” Janet starts attacking Hank, zapping him with her Wasp stingers, and Hank grows taller to tower above the Microverse buildings. He grabs her in his hands, being careful not to hurt her, and tells her that she’s being controlled. Psycho-Man laughs as Janet escapes and begins zapping Hank again, knocking him out. Psycho-Man tells Janet that her new name is Malice, and that she will be his queen. He sends Hank off into the microscopic abyss to die.
Hank wakes up in a spaceship, being woken up by a green mantis-looking man. The man introduces himself as Bug, a freedom fighter against Psycho-Man’s tyranny. Hank says he has to save Janet, and Bug agrees to help. The two plan devise a plan of attack.
Bug storms into Psycho-Man’s throne room and demands that Psycho-Man fight him one-on-one. Psycho-Man laughs and turns on his emotion ray, only to find it doesn’t affect Bug. We then see that Hank has gone inside the emotion ray and rewired it to remove artificial emotions instead of causing them. Hank exits, grows, and zaps Malice back into Janet. Janet, furious, grabs Psycho-Man by the collar, flies up, and throws him on the ground. Hank and Janet bring the unconscious Psycho-Man back to their world, grow to normal size, and turn him in to the police.
Janet thanks Hank for saving her, and Hank says not to mention it. Suddenly, back in the lab, Hank notices a problem with UL, and attempts to call Janet before UL punches him and knocks him over.
They Might Be Giants – “Particle Man” for the cold open with the bacteria.
Next up: The Avengers come together for the first time in the three-part episode “Assemble”!