Thursday, July 19, 2012

Open Letter to Marvel Entertainment

Axel Alonso
Marvel Entertainment, LLC
135 W. 50th Street, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10020

July 19, 2012

Dear Axel Alonso:

Oops - you did it again, Marvel Comics. You took a great premise, that of Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, transformed it into a successful T.V. show for two great seasons, and then canned it.

We viewers and fans alike would really, really like it if you stopped. It's just not healthy for our relationship. And it just keeps on happening.

You see, it happened before with The Spectacular Spider-Man series that debuted in 2008.

Like SSM, Avengers took great characters, along with lesser known minor characters, and built up the stories over time, developed the heroes' personalities, and worked in classical and contemporary story arcs from the titular comic books. For Spidey, you introduced Peter Parker's romance with Gwen Stacey, but also a grab-bag of origin and confrontations that included such great rogues as Venom and the Green Goblin. For the Avengers, you introduced the Kree-Skrull war as well as less-exposed characters including Power Man and Iron Fist. Pacing, writing and humour were crucial in the success of both shows.

Also, at 22 minutes a pop, the shows suited the serial nature of 22-page comic books nicely and eased their adaptation into animated series. The shows both contain hidden delights and funny moments. For example, Spidey called the Vulture "Beaky" simply to jilt him. Thor threw his hammer in a villain's face just to shut them up in mid-threat. Thus, that Marvel sensibility was abviously at play here, along with Spider Sense. It should be noted that all of Saim Raimi's Spider-man films had humour; however, when Parker suited up, Spider-Man was all business, not the wise-cracking hero of Marvel lore. While the webhead's story arcs built over two seasons, so did the Avengers.

All this is to say that these animated shows were Marvel at its finest. Both did an admirable job of mimicking the slow-burning story arcs of particular comic book storylines.

But you cancelled the webhead's vehicle and now you halted the Avengers' first credible foray into television.

O, why, great House of Ideas? To paraphrase Sally Field, you make us like you, you really do, and then you pick up all your toys and go home.

And, to make things worse, while Spectacular Spider-Man Season 1 is available on a two-disc set for a reasonable price, not so for the second season, which is interspersed on four differents DVD sets. At least you learned, though, that fans want the whole enchilada; you did, after all, release Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes The Complete First Season few months back.

Now, I know you will say that you are rebooting the Avengers as a new show called Avengers Assemble, and that Spidey has been reminted as Ultimate Spider-Man. But Ultimate is too much pratfall and Ferris Bueller-esque asides to the viewers, and not enough Dito/Lee/House of Ideas Marvel character chemistry magic. As mentioned the Avengers had never been a show before this attempt - and still you want to end a good thing.

For our part, we must say: Why, o why now, when you finally hit your mark, have you forsaken us?
And what shall we do with you now?
I know that Avengers film was great - slightly imperfect, but great. Granted, fans were relieved. But even so, perhaps you should have a time-out to consider what you are doing to us youngish Marvelites who are just happy to see you finally make good. It is like dating someone for a few months, just enough to get hung up on them, only to hear them say - "It's not working out. I'm not having any fun. How about I introduce you to my second-cousin? They're single - and they're waiting outside in the car."

Ah, yes, the second cousin that is Ultimate Spider-Man.



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