'Badly Animated Marvel Christmas Carol' review: Surprisingly good

Just don't show it to your kids.

As I mentioned last week, I’ve seen some spectacularly stupid Christmas specials in my time. But other times, you come across one you expect will be terrible, but it actually turns out better than expected. And that’s what I found with The Badly Animated Marvel Christmas Carol. Yes, I know it’s after December 25th, but it’s still the Christmas season until January 6th, so this still counts — and trust me, it’s worth a closer look.

The Badly Animated Marvel Christmas Carol is a YouTube cartoon created by Vaughn Smith in 2014. Smith has an entire Badly Animated series, but I only just became familiar with his work after I was informed about his Marvel Christmas special. Is the show badly animated? Well, yes, technically, but it’s very tongue-in-cheek.

marvel movies christmas carol badly animated youtube

This adaptation of A Christmas Carol stars J. Jonah Jameson as our Scrooge. He’s about to be visited by ghosts on Christmas Eve because his terrible attempts at journalism are about to cause the destruction of humanity.

Also, this show is not for young kids. Don’t be fooled by that Burl Ives narrator snowman-lookalike, and Don’t show it to your seven-year-old as a diversion, and definitely don’t show it to your seven-year-old as a diversion.

marvel movies christmas carol badly animated youtube

I know this is supposed to be “badly animated,” but this is a great rendering of the original snowman narrator from Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. Except this one swears delightfully and drinks more!

marvel movies christmas carol badly animated youtube

In between narrating the story, the Burl Ives snowman hangs out at a North Pole bar with other holiday special characters from the days of old while drinking away the sorrows of his loveless, centuries-long marriage. They’re immortal snow-people, he explains, so neither of them can die and get that sweet release. This would be incredibly depressing if it wasn’t so hilarious.

So, onto the story. It’s been seven years since the death of J. Jonah Jameson’s business partner, Adrian Toombs. Yes, that would be the Vulture. I have no idea how Jameson would have willingly gone into business with a costumed super-villain, but we’ll just suspend disbelief for the sake of a cartoon where no one has any limbs.

marvel movies christmas carol badly animated youtube

Jameson spends his days doing nothing except fire multiple staff members and then forgetting hours later. The actual running of the Daily Bugle falls to his assistant, Betty Brant. His latest victim is Peter Parker (of course). Except Jameson forgot that he needs photos, and it looks like Peter was the last remaining photographer on staff.

marvel movies christmas carol badly animated youtube

So, Jameson goes to bed on Christmas Eve when the ghost of his old partner, Adrian Toombs, appears. Toombs tells Jameson that, because he such a dickhead, he’s getting his ass haunted by three more ghosts that night. Not only that, but apparently, Jameson’s dickishness eventually causes a horrible disaster that destroys Earth.

We get to see Dr. Strange as the Ghost of Christmas Past who shows Jameson that his old article exposing top-secret S.H.I.E.L.D. and Avengers activities has already endangered future operations.

marvel movies christmas carol badly animated youtube

This causes Thor to get drunk on eggnog at the S.H.I.E.L.D. holiday party, pick a fight with the Hulk (who sounds remarkably and hilariously like Arnold Schwarzenegger), which then ignites Thor’s feud with Loki, thus endangering Earth’s national security.

marvel movies christmas carol badly animated youtube

Yes, Jameson is ultimately the one responsible for the Thor-Loki fallout and Loki’s taking his anger out on Earth.

Next up is Deadpool as the Ghost of Christmas Present. Deadpool isn’t exactly the best at his job as a guardian spirit, but that’s to be expected. I love Deadpool in the comics and the movies, but I did think his schtick here got old pretty quickly.

marvel movies christmas carol badly animated youtube

The best part was when he took Jameson to Peter Parker’s house. We find out that

Aunt May has been kidnapping and accidentally murdering women she’s tried to present to Peter as potential girlfriends, and now she has an entire graveyard in her backyard.

marvel movies christmas carol badly animated youtube

And lastly, we have Stan Lee as the Ghost of Christmas Future. Stan takes Jameson to see the horrible future that he has wrought on Earth.

Apparently, Jameson’s articles vilifying superheroes eventually turns citizens against them. So when a deadly virus threatened humanity, there are hardly any heroes left. And the few remaining all get turned into brain-eating zombies.

marvel movies christmas carol badly animated youtube

Cool! We actually get to see Marvel Zombies! Gotta hand it to the creators, this has not been done on-screen before.

But it’s not the apocalyptic vision of the future that scares Jameson straight - it’s the sight of his future self fighting off the zombified superheroes.

marvel movies christmas carol badly animated youtube

There’s nothing that Jameson hates more than a vigilante, and he’ll be damned if he ever becomes one!

So, Jameson decides to mend his ways by re-hiring Peter Park and writing a new story that praises superheroes, thus averting the deadly future and Jameson’s dreaded descent into heroism.

marvel movies christmas carol badly animated youtube

To sum it up, I actually liked The Badly Animated Marvel Christmas Carol. Was it weird as hell? Absolutely. But it was amusing to watch. You’re watching a made-for-YouTube cartoon so you have to expect some extreme bizarreness — and lower animation quality. I would say a few scenes dragged on longer than necessary, and there are a couple of dated jokes that may not seem as funny now. But overall, given what it is, it’s pretty well made and it brings some good laughs for Marvel fans.

I definitely enjoyed it far more than last week’s Marvel Christmas special Frost Fight!, which took itself so seriously that it couldn’t be entertaining to anyone over the age of eight. This special knows exactly what it is: an absurd internet cartoon that parodies Marvel heroes for adults in an entertaining way. It doesn’t try to be more than this.

So, if you’re still dealing with young children still on their post-Christmas Day sugar-rush, you can put Frost Fight! on Netflix for them. Then pull up this special on your laptop, pop in your earbuds for an hour, and enjoy.

Media via Vaughn Smith