Iron Man: Armored Adventures
When it comes to cartoon shows based off of comic books few would argue that the most influential show to date has been Batman: The Animated Series. The show won multiple Emmy Awards, and was so popular that some story elements and characters were incorporated into Batman’s official DC Comics canon. It is the proverbial gold standard, everything that a cartoon adaptation should be and more.The first season of Iron Man: Armored Adventures is a fresh and exciting take on the Iron Man lore. While the show does not match the level of art the Batman series achieved, it does have a lot of potential.
Armored Adventures presents us with a teenage version of Tony Stark, living the high-life as he helps his dad develop new technology for Stark Industries. The show is definitely geared toward a younger audience as Iron Man’s origin story is altered to be less violent and Stark is already high school friends with his future Iron Man groupies, James “Rohedy” Rhodes and Patricia “Pepper” Pots.
The animation style is 3D CGI which gives the show a cool futuristic look to fit with its futuristic setting. The colors produced by explosions and slow-motion flying sequences all look especially beautiful. The only drawbacks are the human faces of the characters plagued with awkward mouth movements that don’t quite synch to the words their speaking. But, for a cartoon show as good looking as this one; it’s a dim scratch on an otherwise beautiful paint-job.
The show’s writing is fairly tight and avoids being ridden with angst. The problems that arise for Tony as he tries to balance his personal life with being Iron Man are casual ones that normal kids watching could relate to. There’s a little bit of a romance between Tony and Pepper, a clashing brother dynamic between Rohdy and Tony and of course Tony’s inability to get do well in school despite his intelligence. Toss in some underground mob bosses and psychopathic, jilted Stark Industries employees and you’ve got yourself an interesting show about being a teen superhero.
If there was one thing to criticize about the show’s writing it would be its formulaic plot structure. Every episode features Tony facing off against an enemy that seems to be of equal power. In Tony’s lowest moment, when power is running low and his heart is about to give out, for no reason at all he finds the strength to overcome his enemy and blasts them into the stone age. It just places an emphasis on overpowering your enemy with brute force as opposed to out-thinking them like the technological genius you are.
The choice to keep the plots simple seems understandable given the age group being targeted, but also unnecessary as kids can understand more than adults give them credit for. Watching Tony as Iron Man use technology to defeat his foes would be way more interesting.
Most of Iron Man’s biggest villains show their faces in the first season including Whiplash, Mr. Fix, and Mandarin in fairly original incarnations. Even long-time fans of the comic series could find something new to watch. In all Iron Man: Armored Adventures is awesome and definitely worth taking a look at the next time you come across it.
DVD Extra Features: Storyboards of Characters and Original Sketches.
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