Makes you feel
He's a cool exec
With a heart of steel. ♫
…except when he’s reimagined as a teenager who’s never held a job (let alone an executive position), kissed a girl or done any of the stuff that makes think of Tony Stark
as cool in the first place.
Welcome to Iron Man: Armored Adventures.
After industrialist Howard Stark refuses Obadiah Stane's attempt to weaponize the Earth Mover Project, his 16 year old son Tony loses his father and almost his own life in a plane crash that leaves Tony severely injured. With the help of Jim Rhodes, Happy Hogan, and Pepper Potts, Iron Man fights the enemies of World Peace ranging from Mandarin, Iron Monger, Crimson Dynamo, Madame Masque, Blizzard, Living Laser, The Controller, Whiplash, Mr. Fix, Count Nefaria, Killer Shrike, Unicorn, A.I.M., Ultimo, Fin Fang Foom, Firebrand, MODOK, and Black Knight, while attending school as a result of his father's last wish (or so Obadiah Stane, the acting CEO of Stark International claims).
As much as I’m not a fan of Batman Returns
I am grateful to it because it was the impetus for Warner Bros. greenlighting Batman: The Animated Series
. I get it that the new business model is for the big budget superhero feature films to spawn animated TV series to perpetuate the brand until the next sequel. It’s the reason we now have shows like ‘Spectacular Spiderman
’ and ‘Wolverine & the X-men
’ and even ‘Batman: The Brave & the Bold
’. I get it. What I don’t quite get are the creative decisions that were made with Iron Man: Armored Adventures.
seemed to take a page from the BTAS formula by combining elements from the first 20 years of Amazing Spiderman comic books, the more recently updated Ultimate Spiderman, the Sam Raimi Spiderman movies, all previous animated Spiderman shows and distilled them into the most succinct and entertaining version of Spider-man of all. And lest you think this was a fluke (I know I did), Marvel did the exact same thing a year later with Wolverine & the X-men. Yet this trend completely skipped Iron Man. To be fair, I suppose it would be a difficult to sell a Saturday morning cartoon about a hedonistic, alcoholic millionaire with a heart condition- even to a basic cable channel- but stripping him down to a teenager seemed a bit extreme. It pretty much cut him off from any kind of Robert Downey Jr-ness
we could’ve had.
On top of all that, they chose to go with cel-shaded, 3D computer animation for the entire show like the old Spider-Man: The New Animated Series
that aired on MTV
back in 2003. I can understand how it would seem like a good way to go for all the armor and mech battles, but it makes any bad acting or writing even more robotic.
With pure dread I sat down to watch Iron Man: Armored Adventures
and found it to be…not all that bad.
Admittedly, I’ve found I have a soft spot for stories about orphan boys with hidden greatness (‘Meet the Robinsons
’, Harry Potter
, Peter Parker
, etc.), but the teenage Tony Stark
isn’t the stereotypically snarky, precocious or angsty adolescent you would expect. From the two part series opener, “Iron, Forged in Fire”,
his story plays out somewhat Shakespearean
- his ersatz “uncle” , Obadiah Stane kills his father and takes over the family business, Stark Industries. Without setting off suspicion, Tony embarks on a mission to covertly get revenge on Stane and retake the company. It’s almost Hamlet
, except instead of dressing in all black and fighting with a sword it’s red and gold armor with repulsor rays.
I’m still not sold on the 3D- cel shaded animation on the people, it’s still a bit too “Polar Express”
(though the technology has improved a lot in the last six years). But it works like gangbusters when it comes to vehicles, mecha and actions scenes.
The slick redesigns of Iron Man’s supervillains take full advantage of the technique. They’re all so much more high-tech and integrate into his world better than their analog versions in the comic books.
Episodes on this disc:
Iron Forged In Fire Part One
Just as the teenage genius Tony Stark finishes his Iron Man suit, his world comes crumbling down. His father is killed, his home is taken away from him and everything in his life is changed. In order to find out the truth, Tony dons the suit and uses the help of his friends Rhodey and Pepper.
Iron Forged In Fire Part Two
Tony feels that Obadiah Stane, the new head of Stark International, is responsible for his father's death. Tony's suspicions peek when he learns that Stane is changing his dad's inventions into powerful weapons known as the Earth Movers. While investigating the situation, Iron Man confronts a mysterious person named The Mandarin.
Secrets and Lies
After Tony is captured by a secret organization, he learns that Gene's father has something to do with it.
Despite Rhodey's reservations, Iron Man builds an alliance with a man named Blizzard. Wanting to take out Obadiah Stane, Tony feels that the new partnership will be beneficial. But is Blizzard all that he seems to be?
When Pepper's father is targeted by arms dealer Mister Fix, Tony must save the day without revealing his secret. However, this task becomes nearly impossible when Mister Fix sends his agent Whiplash after Pepper.
Iron Man vs. The Crimson Dynamo
Ivan Vanko, a scientist who was thought to have been left in space two years ago, crash lands in New York City. Alive because of an environmental suit, called the Crimson Dynamo, Vanko seeks revenge on the program that put him in space in the first place- Project Pegasus. It's up to Iron Man to stop Vanko from destroying Project Pegasus.
While my feelings about this show are mostly positive, what tragically keeps it from being great are Tony’s friends. Instead of the sexy Pepper Potts
from every other incarnation of Iron Man, she’s more of a “Peppy”
Potts- spastic nerd girl who’s job it is to inject all the high school drama into every story- I suppose this is to keep the Nickelodeon-age crowd interested and buying toys.
Up to now the character of James “Rhodey” Rhodes
had established himself as Tony Stark’s “you-know-I-could-probably-work-that-armor-better-than-you” best friend. Here he takes a big step backwards as his now a finger-wagging, “See-Tony?-I-told-you-not-to-do-that” sidekick. It becomes annoying pretty quickly and frankly I’m disturbed by the trend I’m seeing of so many nerdy, African-American sidekicks in cartoons lately.
• The music video of the show’s theme song performed by the band Rooney
. It’s not as catchy as the Spectacular Spider-Man theme, but it does get stuck in the head.
• Suit Profiles: Four quick TV spots that explain a different function of the armor, using repurposed animation from the show.
While I do recommend this show I must confess I haven’t watched it past the eighth episode. I would blame it on the fact that they haven’t all aired (in Amreica) yet, but the truth is I have the last two saved on my DVR and just haven’t gotten around to them because there’s usually something better waiting for me. Like I said, it’s a good show but not quite “great”.
My biggest disappointment with this Iron Man: Armored Adventures Vol. 1
is that it’s another one of these ripoff DVDs with only six episodes on it when we all know that within less than a year they’ll release the entire first season on one disc.
If you just can’t wait you can purchase it here