General Release 2008
78 minutes approx
In the future, the team of superheroes known as the Avengers will be no more, killed by the machine menace known as Ultron, a robot/computer entity that now rules the earth. Their last act, one of desperation, is to send their children into hiding with one of their number. Years later, those children have developed their own abilities and skills and are getting restless about their enforced isolation. When Ultron comes calling, though, it is clear that they are not yet ready to face him. They need an ally; the most deadly and dangerous of all the Avengers of old - the Incredible Hulk.
Marvel Comics are riding high at the moment in terms of big and small screen domination of the superhero genre. At the cinema in the last two years alone there have been adaptations (good and bad) of THE INCREDIBLE HULK, IRON MAN, GHOST RIDER, SPIDER-MAN and THE FANTASTIC FOUR whilst the animation arm of the group has released two Avengers movies, one DOCTOR STRANGE and one INVINCIBLE IRON MAN full length cartoon movies on DVD. Superheroes are a staple of not just the genre now, but the mainstream. The one thing that all of these releases have in common, however, are that they rely on past glories, tried and trusted heroes from a previous generation; the kids that have grown up with the comics and are now introducing their children to the delights of superheroes in spandex.
With NEXT AVENGERS:HEROES OF TOMORROW, the animation studio makes a bid to introduce a new set of heroes that the current generation of kids can call their own and identify with, a new set of heroes that they can grow up with and call their own. And so we get James, Torunn, Azari and Pym. Not exactly names to conjure up great warriors perhaps, but these are the offspring of Caprain America, the Black Widow, Thor, The Black Panther, Wasp and Giant Man. James is as athletic as his parents and carries a virtual shield of indestructability; Torunn is an immortal of Asgard and therefore pretty tough; Azari has his father's feral abilities allied with power fields whilst Pym can be a tiny fly or a giant powerhouse. Somewhere along the way they pick up the son of Hawkeye, an archer himself. In the story, these kids aren't up to the job of being heroes alone and that's a feeling echoed by the Marvel folks as well and so they have allied these young wonders to two of the more popular old guard - Iron Man and the Hulk, trying to provide a smooth transition and keep some of the older audience on board. It's a strategy that both helps and hurts the movie. For one, the plot calls for a villain so powerful that it can destroy the Avengers (machine entity Ultron) and therefore far too powerful for the Next Avengers to stand a chance against, meaning that the final resolution is achieved through someone other than the main heroes.
The child heroes aren't that strong either. James is a born hero, struggling with the responsibility that he feels inside; Torunn's invulnerability makes her arrogant, barely masking the abandonment issues she has with her absent father; Azari barely exists as a character and Pym is the annoying younger brother type. There's also a rebellious hothead resentful of his role who is introduced later on. This is an origin story and they are never the best at setting up character, but the effort here could have been greater.
Except, of course, that this is aimed at kids and kids are more interested in flying robot Avengers (which provide handy enemies that the heroes can destroy), big explosions and even bigger explosions. They get plenty of that. The pace rarely slows down after the beginning and does provide a climax that is full of devastation on a grand scale. It is unlikely that the target audience will be disappointed.
The Next Avengers:Heroes of Tomorrow
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