Monday, February 15, 2021


Written by Paul Giacoppo | Directed by Sebastian Montes

The Plot: Somewhere in Norway, Malektih the Dark Elf finds a small Asgardian casket. In New York, Radioactive Man attacks Stark Tower, where Iron Man, Thor, and Black Panther fight back. When Radioactive Man tries to absorb the power from Stark's arc reactor, Iron Man attempts to trigger a meltdown to overload him -- but Thor steps in and defeats the villain instead. Meanwhile, Enchantress and Executioner visit Malekith, who opens the casket, releasing a worlwide winter.
Thor realizes the Casket of Ancient Winters is behind the weather changes and Black Panther pinpoints its location, while elsewhere in Manhattan, Captain America and the rest of the Avengers battle ice monsters. Iron Man, Thor, and Black Panther head out to confront Malekith, while the ice creatures gain the upper hand on the other Avengers in New York. In Norway, Thor and Iron Man team up to supercharge Iron Man's armor with Asgardian magic, and Malekith is defeated.

Thor closes the casket, and the world returns to normal, but Enchantress and Executioner are unfrozen in the process. They subdue the Avengers and teleport away with the Casket, and Thor attempts to follow them to Asgard, but finds himself locked out.

Continuity Notes: "The Casket of Ancient Winters" was a THOR storyline at Marvel in the eighties, fondly remembered by many for its non-intrusive linewide "crossover" effect: while all the action unfolded in Thor's title, various heroes around the Marvel Universe noticed its effects in their own various series.

None of the Avengers are familiar with Radioactive Man when he attacks, with Iron Man noting that SHIELD originally defeated and incarcerated him. (He's mentioned as being a Cube escapee following the events of "Breakout".)
At one point, when the Asgardian winter hits, Hawkeye facetiosly suggests moving the Avengers to the West Coast, a reference to the Avengers satellite team he led in the eighties and nineties comics.

The Human Torch and the Thing give Captain America a helping hand during the ice monster fight. The Torch has no lines, while the Thing bellows his trademark battle cry, "It's clobberin' time!" Also, Ultron is seen fighting alongside Giant-Man at Avengers' Mansion.
Iron Man wears one of his specialized suits in this episode, which I assuem to be a "cold weather" variant of some sort. Though why he needs something so specific is beyond me. I get having space armor and deep sea armor for those extreme environments, but shouldn't his standard rig be enough for some ice and snow? Black Panther also wears a unique costume, which I guess does kind make sense if his normal outfit isn't particularly insulated.
It's stated that only the dead can use the Casket, and Malekith fits the bill, having been partially resurrected by Loki to do so (hence Enchantress and Executioner showing up to check on him). He crumbles to dust upon his defeat.

Do I Know That Voice? Malekith is voiced by Quinton Flynn, who -- among many other roles -- voiced the afore-mentioned Human Torch in season 2 of the 1990s FANTASTIC FOUR cartoon, as well as Jonny Quest in the second season of THE REAL ADVENTURES OF JONNY QUEST around that same timeframe. The Thing's one-line cameo is uncredited.

My Thoughts: This is a really good one; a nice recovery from what I perceived as a somewhat weak Kang trilogy. It's done-in-one (though in typical fashion for this series, a seed is planted for upcoming episodes as the Enchantress snags the Casket before escaping), and it showcases that classic standby from the comics, "Iron Man hates magic". In this case, it's framed as a conflict between Iron Man and Thor. Thor stops Stark from destroying his arc reactor, by which Radioactive Man would irradiate some of Earth's crust, Iron Man blames Thor for there being no Eartly way to undo the Casket's damage. Of course they realize in the end that if magic and technology can be used in sync, the results are quite spectacular.

There are also some nice zingers from Stark in this one. I've mentioned before that I find Eric Loomis's Robert Downey Jr. impression a bit too much a lot of the time, and even here he goes overboard more than once. But his delivery of the phrase "magic box from Imaginationland" elicited a pretty big guffaw from me; indeed, it reminded me of one of my favorite RDJ lines from the MCU, as Iron Man, in total deadpan, tells Spider-Man that Ebony Maw "...came here to steal a necklace from a wizard" in INFINITY WAR.
And there's some good stuff with Hawkeye, Wasp, and Hulk here too, with the episode's opening scenes showing them relaxing by the mansion pool and choosing not to join the rest of the team against Radioactive Man because they're pretty sure Iron Man, Thor, and Black Panther can handle it. Of course they eventually suit up when the Casket is unleashed, but up to that point they're the team goof-offs, and the role suits them perfectly.

Next week it's another done-in-one, bringing one of the season's major story arcs to a head in "Hail, Hydra!"

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