review of Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow(2008)
Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow is set in a possible dystopian future of the Marvel Comics universe, where the Avengers arch foe, the robotic Ultron, has succeeded in finally defeating the Avengers, killing most of them, and taking control of half of the planet. Iron Man (Tony Stark), however, survived the initial attack. He manages to rescue the children of the Avengers and hide them away. He then raises them together as a family, training them as he thinks their parents would have. Preparing them for the day that Ultron finally tracks them down.
That day comes when the Vision (another surviving Avenger — a robot with the powers of density control, here being used to render himself intangible and having acted as a spy for Tony) arrives, heavily damaged by Ultron’s forces. While Tony tries to repair the Vision, the children follow him into his underground laboratory and accidentally discover robotic versions of their parents — the Iron Avengers — created by Tony, and unintentionally launched by the children. The Iron Avengers follow their programmed orders and are off to attack Ultron; this is futile, as Ultron quickly reprograms them to be his servants, and follows their trajectory back to Tony and the children.
The children are:
- Torunn, daughter of the mighty Thor (still alive; left Earth to rule Asgard prior to Ultron’s attack)
- James Rogers, son of Steve Rogers/Captain America and Natasha Romanoff/the Black Widow
- Pym, the son of Janet Van Dyne/the Wasp and Henry Pym/Giant Man
- Azari, the son of Prince T’Challa/the Black Panther (and, given his electrical powers, presumably the X-Man Ororo Munroe/Storm)
Ultron arrives, and Tony has the children (along with the head of the robotic Vision)evacuate in the Avengers’ last remaining quinjet while Tony, as Iron Man (surprising the children who were unaware of his dual identity), wages a desperate battle against Ultron, giving the children time to escape. The battle is one of the highlights of the film, resulting in Tony being defeated and taken captive. Against Tony’s wishes, the children try to rescue him, leading them to “Ultra City” where they meet the son of Hawkeye, Barton, whom Tony had thought dead. This is where some of the character development begins to come to life.
Torunn’s superiority complex takes a significant hit here, as she is defeated by the Iron Avengers, as is her faith in her father, who didn’t come to her aid when she needed him. Likewise, later the children stumble across Ultron’s chamber of trophies, including their parents’ damaged costumes, and James matures somewhat and steps up as the leader of the children. They are, however, severely outclassed by Ultron, and need significant additional raw power, leading them to seek out the last surviving Avenger — the Incredible Hulk, who can be as much of a threat as Ultron himself.
I won’t give away the ending, but I would like to make a few observations. The voice acting is very good, the pace is fast, the story is nice — in all, Next Avengers is a good movie, but not a great one. I watched it with my four youngest children, aged 9 to 16, and they all enjoyed it as well. I rate Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow at 3 stars out of 5.
For comic book geeks such as myself, a few notes:
- Unlike the comics, Tony Stark is portrayed as the creator of Ultron, unlike the comic book version where Henry Pym (Giant Man) was responsible. In the Disney XD cartoon Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, both of them share the responsibility for creating Ultron. Likewise, in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tony Stark and Bruce Banner are responsible.
- Here the Vision is entirely robotic — in the comic, he’s a “synthezoid” or Android — an organic creature made out of synthetic materials.
- One odd point for me was seeing Captain America’s broken shield in Ultron’s trophy case. In the comic, the shield is indestructible, having withstood literally earth-shattering forces. Young James uses an energy-based shield throughout most of the film, taking a shield from the Iron Avenger version of Captain America in the final battle.
- Ultron here is portrayed as being utterly logical and emotionless, in contrast to his appearance in the comic where his emotions often trip his plans up.
Editorial review of The Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow, courtesy of Amazon.com
Whenever the forces of evil threatened mankind, Earth’s mightiest heroes the Avengers were there to stop them — until they made the ultimate sacrifice in their final fight with the indestructible robot, Ultron. But all was not lost for Tony Stark (Iron Man) kept the children of the Avengers safe and raised them to become the teenage heroes of tomorrow. Now James (Son of Captain America and Black Widow), Torunn (Daughter of Thor), Azari (Son of the Black Panther), and Pym (Son of Wasp and Giant Man) must finish the fight their parents started. Soon the arrow-slinging son of Hawkeye will join their ranks but it will take more than five teens to destroy the machine that defeated their parents. If these young heroes have any hope of winning they must find the missing Hulk and come together as — ¦the Next Avengers!
Movie quotes from Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow
James Rogers: Can we hear it again? Please.
Torunn: More — tell us the story more! Please.
Tony Stark: Okay, one more time and then it’s off to bed.
Pym: [looking at Iron Avenger robot of Thor] There’s Torunn’s dad. Wait. Maybe that’s her mom. Look at all that hair!
Azari: Hey, who’s Clint Barton?
Pym: Maybe he was the knight or the pixie.
Azari: [hits the back of Pym’s head]
Azari: The pixie was your mom, idiot.
Ultron: Struggling until the end. Illogical. You must realize the end is here.
Tony Stark: No. Still hope.
Ultron: False. Hope is a human delusion.
James Rogers: I led Ultron to our home. Tony’s gone because of me.
Torunn: No! We’re going after Ultron. Pym, take the controls and head for this Ultra City.
Pym: I’m on it, Torunn! Uh, two questions: How do you fly this thing and where is Ultra City?
Ultron: Do you see, Avenger? Rumors of the children’s existence already spread among the humans. Superhuman variable cannot be permitted. The children must be destroyed.
Pym: Hey, that’s not fair! James doesn’t even have any powers.
Ultron: Scanning Avengers data files. Identity match. James Rogers, son of Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, the most dangerous of all the Avengers. He inspired them, and like Captain America, you, James, will be the first to fall!
Hawkeye: Not today, robot.
Tony Stark: Can you help us get out of the city?
Hawkeye: Yeah, right. Help the guy who created Ultron, who got my dad killed? What do you think my father would have done, Stark?
Tony Stark: Clint? He would have punched me in the face, then he would have helped me.
Hawkeye: Wow. You really knew my dad.
Azari: This plan seemed a lot better when Torunn and the Hulk were involved.
Tony Stark: Whether you know it or not, you’ve prepared for this all your lives.
Torunn: [raises sword] Aye, we did! And today we meet our destinies!
Hawkeye: She means that in a good way, right?
Azari: Probably better if we don’t know.
Hulk: [after he smashes Ultron] Hulk is strongest there is!
James Rogers: Uh-oh.
Azari: Uh-oh? What do you mean, “uh-oh”?
Tony Stark: So, are you up for a little avenging?
James Rogers: Avengers, assemble!