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Western Animation / The Avengers: United They Stand

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The Avengers: United They Stand is an animated series from 1999 starring Marvel Comics' superhero team, The Avengers. Unfortunately, due to plans for live-action movies, Captain America, Iron Man and The Mighty Thor couldn't be used as full members (Thor only appeared in the opening credits, and Cap and Iron Man made single-episode guest appearances), leaving Ant-Man of all people as The Leader. The rest of the roster included The Wasp, The Vision, Scarlet Witch, The Falcon, Hawkeye, Tigra, and Wonder Man.

Marvel briefly published a comic-book tie-in. Written by Ty Templeton, he managed to tell some accessible, fun, classic Avengers stories. He even managed to perfectly update "Even an Android Can Cry" and work in a guest appearance by Devil Dinosaur and Moon Boy.

The show ran for only 13 episodes on Fox Kids.

This Marvel animation provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Name Change: The Falcon's nephew is called Andrew rather than Jim or Jody.
  • Adaptation Title Change: The cartoon added the sub-title United They Stand.
  • Advertised Extra: When the complete series was released on DVD to cash in on the popularity of the live-action Avengers movie, Captain America and Iron Man were given the most prominent real estate on the cover. This is despite them only appearing in one episode each.
  • Affably Evil: Swordsman, Clint/Hawkeye's old mentor, was just as evil when Clint bumped heads with him again in the current day, but he was no less amicable toward his old partner even when they inevitably ended up fighting, trading him some sincere combat compliments.
    "I taught you too well!"
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Not just Ultron, but some equipment of his that somehow fuses with plant matter and comes alive in "Remnants".
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Ultron is the primary villain in the opening two parter and appears in a few more episodes. The Zodiac are also a recurring threat, playing out machinations in a couple episodes and taking the lead in the finale.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: The series had Ant-Man screaming "Avengers Assemble!!" followed by the transformation sequence of 3/4 of the team putting on powered armor. Scarlet Witch, Tigra and The Vision didn't wear any, being mutants and a robot respectively, so they were left out of the transformation sequence.
  • Composite Character: The team's government liaison is a thin, clean-shaven Obstructive Bureaucrat named Raymond Sikorski. He bears little resemblance to his comic counterpart, a portly, mustachioed man who was generally helpful to the Avengers, and has much more in common with Henry Peter Gyrich, Sikorski's predecessor in the comics. In fact, the animated Sikorski's physical appearance and meddling nature (right down to forcing The Falcon onto the team) come directly from Gyrich.
  • Da Chief: Mr. Sikorski is the main authority figure the Avengers work with and he tends to be belligerent towards them.
  • Death Means Humanity: In the episode "Remnants," The Avengers consider killing the robots they discover on the island, but aren't sure if the robots matter morally or not and decide to avoid killing them until they can be sure. Eventually they discover that the robots will kill everyone else on Earth and have the UN nuke the island. They deeply regret the robots' deaths and feel just as bad as if they had been forced to kill humans.
  • Demoted to Extra: Captain America, Iron Man and Thor, in spite of being very prominent members of the team in the comics, are reduced to cameos as portraits and/or one-time guest appearances.
  • Environment-Specific Action Figure: Besides having snap-on armor, every Avenger got an alternate costume whenever they went somewhere weird (the jungle, underwater, outer space, etc.), almost certainly as potential toy fodder.
    • Ultron might count too, with how the show portrays him as mainly just the head, which is inserted into a new body for whatever the situation calls for.
  • Fantastic Racism: The witches of New Salem are pretty much known for being persecuted in history, yet they call out Scarlet Witch for being a mutant.
  • Happily Married: Ant-Man and the Wasp are married and love each other dearly.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Sikorski can be pretty obnoxious at times, but he is right that the team sometimes lacks discipline and can be needlessly reckless in the field. Hawkeye failing the President in the first episode is one such example.
  • Left Hanging: The series ends with the Zodiacs getting what they were after, and able to turn the Zodiac Key, while Wonder Man's powers have been rendered unstable due to the Zodiacs' Doomsday Device, and Ant-Man votes to drop him from the team. That's it.
  • Lethal Joke Character: Egghead may be a ridiculous villain, but he has just enough knowledge of manipulating Pym particles to nearly kill Ant-Man.
  • Man Behind the Man: Swordsman, who convinced his old pal Hawkeye to join his group, was acting under orders from Taurus.
  • Merchandise-Driven: Very evident where the heroes wore brightly colored, Animesque battle armor for no apparent reason other than to shill toys; this is made even more blatant by the fact that one of the superheroes who's most well-known for doing that sort of thing is relegated to a cameo. One wonders if they had him in mind when they came up with the armor idea but realized too late that he wasn't on the table.
  • Mirroring Factions: The people of New Salem started that community because of the prejudice and hatred they received from normal humans. Scarlet Witch insists she can relate, due to being a mutant.
  • Multiple Headcase: Gemini from The Zodiac is depicted as a two-headed alien (one male head and one female head) with four arms.
  • Mythology Gag: Like in the comics, it's mentioned in "Command Decision" that Captain America and Falcon have a history of working together.
  • Off-Model: Various examples. At the end of the two-part series premier, Falcon and Vision's big induction ceremony involves them getting to wear the team's "A" insignia for the first time, signifying that they've truly become Avengers. The problem? They were already shown wearing it in a few shots earlier in the episode.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The Zodiac, a group of constellation-themed foes who have a fiendish plot in the works. Not that that plot was ever really explained, though, but it's apparently a big deal.
  • Organic Technology: In "Remnants", some technology Ultron left lying around somehow turns into this when fused with the local flora.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Hank spends Captain America's guest appearance grousing because practically everyone is singing Cap's praises and listening to him.
  • Powered Armor: The show gave most of the Avengers suits of battle armor that they wore over their existing costumes, complete with a Once per Episode Transformation Sequence. Given the emphasis on the show's toyline, this was almost certainly an attempt at making the heroes more "toyetic".
  • Red Herring: The Monster of the Week in "Remnants" looks to all the world like Man-Thing, but is actually plant matter fused with Ultron's technology.
  • Ret-Canon: The comics' Falcon briefly wears the armor he wears on this show.
  • Rings of Activation: Whenever Vision turns intangible or extra dense, a red ring materializes around and passes up or down his body.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Wonder Man, who's very quickly put into a coma while setting up the Vision's origin.
  • Say My Name: "HENRY!" said by Wasp whenever she or Ant-Man are in peril.
  • Shout-Out: Ant-Man in his microship maneuvers between the keys on a keyboard, looking for all the world like the trench run.
  • Sixth Ranger: The first episode establishes Ant-Man, Wasp, Hawkeye, Tigra, Wonder Man, and Scarlet Witch have been members for sometime. Falcon and Vision are formally added to the team at the end of the second episode. Of course, they were in the opening credits, so it's not a surprise.
  • So Proud of You: "Command Decision" ends with Captain America saying Hank has done him and the other founding members proud.
  • Stock Footage: The transformation sequences are always reused in every episode to save money on animation costs.
  • Team Member in the Adaptation: Inverted, with the Avengers' Big Three (Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor) not being part of the team in this version. Despite being present in the opening sequence, Tony and Cap appear in one episode each, and Thor never appears at all.
  • Transformation Sequence: Ant-Man, Wasp, Hawkeye and Falcon's snap-on armor appears over their bodies when they prepare for battle.
  • We Will Meet Again: In his final appearance, Ultron is sent crashing into an abyss, but he promises to escape and face the team again one day.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Discussed and averted in the episode "Remnants." The Avengers consider killing the robots they discover on the island, but aren't sure if the robots matter morally or not and decide to avoid killing them until they can be sure. Eventually they discover that the robots will kill everyone else on Earth and have the UN nuke the island. They deeply regret the robots' deaths and feel just as bad as if they had been forced to kill humans.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: There are several instances of the heroes being chewed out for making bad decisions. Hawkeye in the first episode for leaving his post and the president getting hurt. Later Ant-Man for seemingly giving in to the demands of Kang when he took Wasp hostage. Though in that case it was a plan which worked, so everybody was cool with it.
  • Wolverine Publicity: When Marvel finally released a DVD collection to coincide with the popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America and Iron Man were given the most prominent placement on the box, despite the fact that they only appeared in one episode each. The actual Avengers highlighted in the show like The Wasp, The Falcon, and Hawkeye were all shunted off to the side, including Ant-Man, who was actually the leader and the main character.
  • Xanatos Gambit: During an episode, newly introduced villains the Zodiac hijack a series of nuclear weapons satellites, which our heroes believe are being used to hold the world hostage and promptly destroy. Turns out, they wanted the satellites destroyed, as they were obstructing their view of a celestial convergence needed to turn their giant astronomical key and bring them one step closer to universal domination.
  • You Don't Look Like You:
    • Ultron can swap out every part of his body for whichever reason, giving him several different appearances. He's even missing his feelers in "Remnants".
    • Kang barely looks anything like how he appears in the comics.
  • You Have Failed Me: At the end of "Comes a Swordsman", Taurus punishes Swordsman for his failure by ordering his minions to tear him into twelve pieces.
  • You Killed My Father: This show's Baron Zemo has been under the impression that Captain America killed his father ie. the previous Baron Zemo. In actual fact, it was his own shots reflected off the vibranium shield that did it.
  • Zodiac Motifs: The Zodiac Crime Syndicate shows up as villains.