The world, particularly with the proliferation of social media, reveals to us how diverse its human population truly is. Voices, once separated by distance, come together to reveal the presence once overlooked by larger, homogeneous populations. DC and Marvel took notice. They incorporated a more diverse line up in their comics, feature films, and animation franchises tailored toward younger audiences. First we had DC Superhero Girls, a franchise for young girls that focused on the female superheroes of DC and portrayed them as teenagers in high school. Now, Marvel throws its hat into the ring with the upcoming Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors feature, set to air on the Disney Channel on September 30th.
Marvel Rising: Initiation acts as a prequel miniseries, setting up things to come in the feature. The premise involves Gwen Stacy, a.k.a. Ghost Spider (voiced by Dove Cameron), tries to avenge the death of her friend Kevin, but various superheroes, believing her to be the one who killed Kevin, attempt to arrest her while she tries to find the real killer. It’s a kid-friendly, superhero version of The Fugitive. There are things adults can enjoy from this, as well. For example, the story does not pull any punches about character death, given the whole setup involves the death Gwen Stacy’s friend. It’s a nice change of pace, given how unlucky she tends to be with death either in comics or other media.
The tiny series focuses on Ghost Spider. While not a problem with the character, the focus comes at the expense of other characters who were announced as part of the franchise. Characters such as America Chavez, Inferno, or Captain Marvel never appear despite this being a setup; they won’t show up until the main film.
Other characters announced with the franchise, however, made their appearances. Quake, Patriot, Ms. Marvel, and Squirrel Girl each had their parts to play and provided a glimpse of each of their personalities.
Voice Acting and Animation
Milana Vayntrub (This Is Us) nail Squirrel Girl’s joyful personality and complete earnestness. She especially had solid chemistry with Kathreen Khavari, playing Ms. Marvel. I’ve loved Khavari since Avengers Assemble days, and she also nails down the specific personality traits of her character. The inclusion of Ms. Marvel and Squirrel Girl stole the show; it’s understandable as they were often used in the commercials for Initiation.
Dove Cameron, Chloe Bennett, Kamil McFadden, and Steven Webber round out the other main character voices. As Bennet’s first foray into voice-over, she did a great job transitioning into that realm of acting. Dove Cameron, who previously voiced Gwen Stacy in Ultimate Spider-Man, delivered a solid performance. Steven Weber, another veteran of the Ultimate Spider-Man series, voiced Captain Stacy, giving the character a vindictive edge. McFadden, another newcomer to voice acting, performed a solid Patriot, delivering a small sample of the character’s personality traits such as him being confident but also insecure.
The animation was very fluid, especially in the action scenes. The intense yet fun fight between Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, and Ghost Spider highlighted that.
If you’re interested Marvel Rising and wish to see how it starts, I highly recommend this. If you have children, they will enjoy it, especially if they already like superheroes already, and it has elements adults can enjoy.
Verdict: 4 out of 5.