Sure, there’s a large element of kitsch involved, especially in the earlier episodes of the show, but it’s just so damn likable. You try to say something bad about this show. It may not be a perfect show in the conventional sense, but the sense of humor and fun that it has in exploring the Marvel universe makes it feel remarkably close to perfection.
It’s a Saturday Morning Cartoon, in the best and purest sense of the word. It takes action, adventure, comedy and a true sense of fun and good times and mixes them all together. Sure there are plot holes abound – why do these heroes live with Aunt May? When did she suddenly own such a nice place in downtown Manhattan? Why is Firestar’s dog randomly anthropomorphic depending on the story/joke? (The episode where her dog uses kung-fu to take down the bad guy and save the heroes/day is the most preposterous and over-bloated episode of them all, containing no less than roughly seven guest stars.) You’re not supposed to dig too deep with a show like this. Just sit back, eat your cereal and enjoy a time when heroes weren’t constantly weighed down everyday issues and constantly stranded in real-world situations.
Which isn’t too say that all of the episodes feature no sustenance to feed upon. The episode that flips the script, ever so slightly at first, guest stars Magneto and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Magneto has taken hold of a prison and kept everyone hostage, threatening to detonate a series of nuclear bombs unless his Brotherhood is freed from captivity and it’s up to our heroes to take him out and make sure both the prisoners and guards and released safely. They may not have gotten his animated form down pat, or even remotely consistent, but his essence is perfectly adapted. It’s this introduction of darkness around the edges of the simplistic storylines that starts to make the show great.
By the time we get to the three episode second season, which each episode dedicated to retelling the origins of the main characters, we’re accustomed to taking some sour medicine with our generally sugary treat. The reoccurring character of Videoman in particular takes on a darker, more somber and sadder shade after his first introductory episode (which is nothing special). There’s something at stake with these characters after the first dozen or so episodes. Not only do we care about them, but they clearly care about each other. And that’s the thing that makes the show so great. Sure cameos from Captain America, Black Knight, Namor, and the X-Men are a lot of fun, but it’s the heart at the center of the show that makes it so rewarding.