Robot 6

Teenage armor: A review of the new Iron Man cartoon

Iron Man: Armored Adventures

Iron Man: Armored Adventures

“I couldn’t stand boy companions. If the theory behind Robin the boy Wonder, Rory the Superboy, the Sandman’s Sandy, the Shield’s Rusty, the Human Torch’s Toro, the Green Arrow’s Speedy was to give young readers a character with whom to identifiy it failed dismally in my case. The super grownups were the ones I identified with. They were versions of me in the future. There was still time to prepare. But Robin the Boy Wonder was my own age. One need only look at him to see he could fight better, swing from a rope better, play ball better, eat better and live better … He was obviously an “A” student, the center of every circle, the one picked for greatness in the crowd — God how I hated him.”

– Jules Feiffer, The Great Comic Book Heroes

So what is it with Marvel these days taking all their core characters and turning them into sulky teen-agers? First there was Wolverine: Prodigal Son, the Marvel/Del Rey book which attempted to “mangify” the character by turning him into a generic angsty shonen hero — thereby robbing everything that made him interesting to begin with — and now there’s Iron Man: Armored Adventurers, which imagines Tony Stark not as gadabout playboy but nerdy youth.

The show, which debuts tonight at 7 p.m. on the Nicktoons Network, takes everything I liked about the character — filthy rich, likes booze a bit too much, porn mustache — and chucks it straight out the window. Tony Stark is now a young high school-age lad who just happens to be so brilliant that he doesn’t have to go to school. He just putters around a high-tech lab making futuristic red and gold armor for kicks, as well as Gundam-like machinery that is tototally to be used for peaceful purposes only, I swear. That’s when he’s not joshing about with his CEO Dad, whose no slouch in the brain department either.

And now you know why I put that quote at the top of this review.

Enter employee Obidiah Stane, who announces his villainy so loudly that he might as well be wearing a cape and top hat and be twirling a handlebar mustache, while having a large neon sign lit up over his head that says “I am evil.”

Stane wants to Stark Industries to develop weapons for the government. Tony’s dad says “No way man, I want to use that 500-ton, 100-foot tall robot that shoots lasers for archeology purposes only!” So Stane has his plane blown up.

Iron Man: Armored Adventures

Iron Man: Armored Adventures

Tony is the only survivor of the crash, but as a result has to have a thing implanted in his chest now to stay alive (one of the show’s many faults is that it skimps on a lot of details, like how Tony’s armor works or what exactly is keeping him alive. I guess the producers figured everyone already saw the movie and can put two and two together). He also has to attend public high school now — horror of horrors — with his best friend Rhodey and put up with the incredibly annoying Pepper Potts.

One of the things that amused me at this point was how the cartoon shows Tony acting like a braniac in all of his high school classes and outperforming his teachers, but no one once beats the crap out of him in the hallways for it. Hell, the jock guy even seems to act like a friend!

As with the Wolverine book, Armoured Adventures drains the unique aspects of the franchise until it becomes utterly generic. Stark is the bland hero, dedicated to avenging his father. Rhodey is the best friend and surrogate mom figure (he’s always nagging). Pepper Potts is the snotty love interest while Stane and the Mandarin (oh yeah, he shows up too) are the obvious villains. There’s not a single character here that doesn’t seem capable of moving out of the etched-in-stone roles they’ve been assigned.

Iron Man: Armored Adventures

Iron Man: Armored Adventures

I’m not even sure why they felt the need to de-age the character in the first place. Wasn’t there just a hit movie last year featuring the adult Iron Man that tons of kids went to see? Wouldn’t the producers have felt more comfortable ripping off that instead of offering the umpteenth version of “Spider-Man But Not?”

Are there other problems? You betcha! For one thing it animation style is horrid, adopting an antiseptic, flat, computer rotoscoping effect that make the characters look horribly stiff and alien. The environments look like they came out of Doom Generator 101 and the city is remarkably devoid of people and objects. Imagine a day-glo version of your average PS2 video game cut scene and you’re on the right track.

Will kids like it? I suppose so, in the sense that kids will like anything that’s shiny and loud and will keep them from having to think about their homework or the fact that mommy’s drinking again. But there’s nothing really unique or special about Iron Man: Armored Adventures. It’s a hopelessly dull affair that reeks of corporate cynicism and a desperation to please without the faintest idea of how to do so. As a kid, I know I would have easily preferred the older, alcoholic Stark to this annoying twerp any day.

Also, I really hated the theme song.

Iron Man: Armored Adventures

Iron Man: Armored Adventures

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Comments

8 Comments

Oz the Malefic

April 24, 2009 at 6:13 pm

Sounds, uh…… great.

Well, that saves me a download…..

Wow… Don’t see the show because any bad reviews guys. Actually it’s very good… for teens. It seems Ultimate (young) Iron Man.

That sounds REALLY bad!

And I hated Ultimated Iron Man, so there you go.

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

One might have thought that Marvel’s first experience with a teenaged Iron Man would have been enough to last them forever.

How silly, apparently.

I thought it looked like crap from the first announcement of the series. Sounds like I wasn’t wrong (the animation looks horrid too)… Chance are most kids (like my daughter) will look at this and say “Hey! That’s not how it happened!” As Chris points out, plenty of kids saw the movie last year. I bet this lasts about as long as MTV’s equally unattractive Spider-Man series did.

Really, it’s just a shame that WB isn’t developing any new shows for the tube with Bruce Timm… Those DC/Timm shows weren’t perfect, but they were usually really, really good. Far above anything Marvel’s produced for the small screen.

The one show I’d had hopes for was Wolverine and The X-Men. We watched the first shows, which weren’t half bad, but quickly lost interest in the show. It’s a shame Nick brought Avatar (perhaps the best animated adventure show ever?) to an end, but gave us these lesser shows instead.

It’s not as bad/good as you write, depending on your viewpoint of the show.

I watched the 2-part origin story this afternoon. As a distraction from a boring afternoon, it is fine. I think it is aimed at 10-year-old boys, not teens. After all, it IS on Nicktoons.

It’s action packed. It’s easy to follow. The Iron Man suit is very colorful. The characters are all likable…so far.

The animation is weak overall. Iron Man looks great and moves beautifully. The mechanical ‘beings’ look only okay. The people are non-dimensional, even though there was an attempt at shading to give them depth.

The voice acting isn’t too bad, but one line in particular was read, not acted. In the first episode, Rhodey’s mom says to Tony (approximately), “You need to go to school. It’s what your father wanted. It’ll be okay.” The ‘it’ll be okay’ was meant to mean that Tony will be okay, but it is read as if school would be okay. A pause was needed. Once I notice such a thing, I look for others, taking my attention away from the story, and into looking for further flaws.

But the 2 major flaws with the story are parts of the concept, and especially the writing. The concept flaws are similar to those of last year’s movie. (Too much gets accomplished too quickly and too easily to be credible.) There is simply no way Tony can get done all that he gets done without assistance. He rebuilds a lab, on the sly, that is humongous, an undertaking requiring great wealth and a greater amount of equipment and manpower. Simply not possible for one person.

Writing is the key to good stories. Writing is everything about a story. Good writing will overcome weaker plot and weaker ideas by at least not insulting the audience. The speech patterns were okay, for the most part. But there were too many points that had to be made via dialogue. If you have to have ‘data-dump’ dialog, you either have a problem writing, or there is too much information to be given in 22 minutes, which goes back to writing problems. Shorten/simplify your script. Is Christopher Yost the new Chuck Austen?

Heroes–Iron Man/Tony and James Rhodes.
Villains–Obadiah Stane (stain?) and Mandarin.
Annoying twits–Happy Hogan and Pepper Potts.

After all that, I still enjoyed it, and will watch more episodes. It’s fun, with a lot of faults.

ITS JUST LIKE THAT CRAPPY DRAGONBALL MOVIE.

I just watched the series, expecting it to be pretty good but it really sucked. first off he’s right the theme song does suck, the animation is bland and stiff, and they ignored major story points. Its just like that new dragonball evo movie (that bombed at the box office), they completely change the story thinking youths will like it better but they just ruin it.

I mean who do they think bought the comic books in the 1st place? so if it aint broke don’t try and fix it

Ya know, I watched this with my kids this weekend, and as a Marvel fan for a couple of decades, well versed in the Iron Man lore, I was perfectly pleased and quite entertained at this show.

Its not meant for the adult Marvel reader, its meant for kids 4 – 14, probably not too familiar with the details, who deserve something entertaining to watch that doesn’t have to do with a Japanese card battle game.

Its a solid show, with plenty of stuff packed into a 22 minute episode that hits its mark with no apologies.

Get over yourselves. There is plenty of room in the Marvelverse for expansion on a theme that they’ve beaten to death for the better part of 40 years.

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