If you're looking for brutal superhero slaughter in your wholesome kid-friendly entertainment, then the direct-to-DVD Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow is for you. Next Avengers, which just came out on DVD, is full of adorable kids whose parents (the Avengers) were disembowled by the android Ultron, and now he's coming for the kids. It's a surprisingly entertaining romp, in the tradition of Batman Beyond. Spoilers below.
Next Avengers stars the son of Captain America and Black Widow (James), daughter of Thor (Torunn), son of the Black Panther (Azari) and the son of Wasp and Giant Man (Pym). They're hidden away and raised by none other than Tony Stark himself. But soon enough the kiddies grow up and are ready to avenge the deaths of their folks at the claws of Ultron.
Old man Tony has traded in his bachelor ways for teacher and father. Which is slightly jarring but sweet when you watch him care for each little kid. Another original Marvel character that makes an important cameo is The Hulk, who has also aged tremendously and now sports the receding hairline, goatee look, sort of like an aging grunge rocker. When the Next Avengers' home is discovered by Ultron, the teens are no longer protected and have to head out on their own in a brand new world governed by the evil Ultron and his robot minions. The teens head out picking up one Hawkeye Jr. along the way. The animation is sharp and clean. Each the character looks both like a combination of their parents, but with a nice youthful glow.
But more importantly I really enjoyed getting to know the new characters of the Next Avengers because they acted like a pack of teens. Torunn (who probably has the most development) tries over and over to talk like the immortal god that she is, struggling to remember to use words like "hence" and "thee." But she still blushes like a young thing when next to a cute boy. James, the reluctant hero, is a complete brat until he's met with a challenge. And Pym, my personal favorite, nails the annoying little brother character to a tee. Pym gets all of the best lines in this little film, calling Azari's father the "cat dad." And after listening to a big motivational speech from James he quips, "I think that's the most words you've ever said in a row." He's an unintentional smart ass, and walks the line of totally endearing versus irritating in a remarkably realistic manner.
The DVD ends with the possibility for more from the Next Avengers, and frankly I'd be game. This would be a great thing to share for those of you looking for something to watch for kids, or just looking for new characters grown from you classic favs. It's interesting without being overly moral or too sanitized (i.e. they're not afraid to remind and practically show you that Ultron murdered their parents).