NOTE: I just found this fully written and never posted from back in July. Since then, I started Season 4, got bogged down, got busy, forgot about it, and am now finishing it up.
Season 3 opens on a suprisingly strong note. A two parter in which the Avengers, rusty as a team from months of doing their own thing in the absence of any global threats, ends up together fighting AIM’s new Adaptoids. At the end of the first part, AIM is defeated, but the Scientist Supreme, some of the Adaptoids, and some leftover Ultron tech bring Ultron back. In the second episode, they blow Ultron up. ‘
We see Ultron twice more during the 26 episodes of “Ultron Revolution”, and both times are kinda meh. At midseason, they fight, they defeat Ultron, but not completely!
And then, after three episodes of a half-assed take on Civil War over the registration of Inhumans, the government asshat responsible for everything, and pitting the Avengers against… a new team of heroes introduced in previous epsiodes with no real motivation for going along with the government when the Avengers resist? IT WAS ULTRON ALL ALONG. And then they fight Ultron again, leaving Iron Man stranded in a magic dimension to keep Ultron contained so he’s only a radio voice.
In between is… fine, I guess? The show settles into a kind of inoffensive mediocrity that it strove for and failed to achieve during the first two seasons. As always, there’s some good Hulk stuff, but then around it there’s a bunch of other Hulk stuff that doesn’t really take the good Hulk stuff into account.
There’s some Thunderbolts stuff in there, some Kang shit, a lot of setting up characters like Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and Ms. Marvel so they can be used in the finale. There’s a Red Hulk chunk that kicks off Secretly Ultron Government Guy’s story but it’s like two episodes and the second one is called “World War Hulk” and it’s just the two Hulks fighting after being turbocharged with gamma radiation.
I think in general, by using the names of good stories, and then presenting weird, underbaked versions of those stories in cartoon form, Avengers Assemble continues to write checks it can’t cash. The show could’ve been better by figuring out what it was good at and emphasizing that, instead of trying to tell World War Hulk and Kang and Ultron and Civil War “epics” that don’t satisfy.
On a completely unrelated note, Season 4 is “Secret Wars”!