To say that Disney is being aggressive in marketing May’s The Avengers would be understatement. Yes, Disney fan, you must go see The Avengers and unlike John Carter the House of Mouse may have already convinced you.
The Disney synergy has begun for The Avengers, making it impossible for Disney fans to ignore the mousey heroes. Soon we will see the Avenger crew plastered on three collectible covers for D23 Magazine (where was the John Carter cover, or even story) and turning over to Disney XD fans will find Disney preparing our kids for The Avengers with over an hour of Marvel cartoons. One of them, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes transparently links to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s loftiest project. But the other Ultimate Spider-Man is sneaking The Avengers into your living room.
Teenager Peter Parker is the Spectacular Spider-Man. Peter balances friends, high school, his super cool Aunt May (no crone here) and being a superhero. Peter is a young superhero and youth means mistakes, as the Amazing Spider-Man lacks experience and mentoring. So, Nick Fury the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. steps in to offer the mentoring the youngster many need to eventually reach Avenger status and fight alongside of Captain America, Iron Man and others. Fury promises Parker that he can transform him into Ultimate Spider-Man. Peter is not the only young hero that S.H.I.E.L.D. is training and they team up Spider-Man with their young stable including Nova, Iron Fist, Luke Cage or Power Man, and White Tiger. And just for extra fun, Fury decides to send the entire team to attend high school with Pete!
This show is silly, witty, and quirky enough that both kids and adults will enjoy it. Peter often breaks the fourth wall and shares his thoughts with the audience, thoughts that are not always heroic. But they usually are funny. It has a voice cast that delivers and the stories are well written. In fact the stories are ones that use elements from the Spider-Man mythology that the hard core fan will enjoy while introducing the rookie to these characters and Spider-Man’s rogues gallery for the first time.
So how does Ultimate Spider-Man tie into The Avengers? First, the show makes heavy use of Nick Fury, the hero mentor and S.H.I.E.L.D. And this Nick Fury is stylized after actor Samuel L. Jackson allowing everyone to know the tie-in between the cartoon and the movie. The tie-in through S.H.I.E.L.D. is so deep that Clark Gregg voices Agent Coulson, who has been assigned as the principal of Peter’s high school so S.H.I.E.L.D. can keep an eye on the young team. Second, Avengers have guest starred on the show. The most obvious to date is Iron Man, and a version of Iron Man that is self-destructive and not a great mentor for young heroes. It’s a version that will make most fans think of Robert Downey Jr. Finally, Stan Lee is in the house! Lee voices Stan the janitor, sharing his unsolicited wisdom to the youngsters of Midtown High.
Ultimate Spider-Man will help you get ready for May 4th when the Avengers Assemble. But it will also entertain and help your young Disney fan become immersed in Disney’s Marvel properties. Michael Eisner would be proud of all this synergy! Well played Disney!