The success of 2008’s Iron Man launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe (whether or not that’s a great factor or not is as much as you). But our pleasant neighborhood Shellhead had a display screen presence even earlier than that. In the Sixties, he featured on a cartoon with the clunky title The Marvel Super Heroes. The Nineties gave us one other cartoon, Iron Man. And in 2008, there was Iron Man: Armored Adventures, a CG-animated sequence that ran for 2 seasons.
It’s straightforward to see why it was so short-lived: it didn’t gel in any respect with Robert Downey Jr.’s interpretation of the character, and the animation was, nicely, less than What If…? requirements. (It barely meets authentic Toy Story requirements, if I’m sincere.) But I discover it moderately charming. Part of which may be nostalgic gratitude, since this was my first actual introduction to Iron Man.
But essentially the most noticeable facet of the present is the truth that Iron Man was actually extra like Iron Boy: he and his associates had been simply 16 at the beginning of the present and 18 on the finish.
De-aging characters to enchantment to youthful audiences isn’t uncommon. DC Super Hero Girls put a few of our favourite heroes in a faculty setting, as did the now-defunct cellular sport Avengers Academy. And whereas this might have been the prime motivator for the parents behind Armored Adventures, there’s a for much longer, extra sordid historical past behind the concept of a teenage Iron Man than most viewers in all probability suspected.
Crossing a Line
The ’90s had been very, very unhealthy for comics. Aside from the ugly vogue decisions, uglier artwork types, and the truth that Marvel went bankrupt, there have been some deeply questionable storylines. “The Crossing” was among the many most questionable of all.
I’m not going to attempt to summarize “The Crossing” in its entirety, as a result of that might take too lengthy, it’s not related, and I’m undecided I perceive it myself. (No one does. It’s inexplicable.) The level is that this: Iron Man was revealed to have been a pawn of Kang the Conqueror for years, and Kang is now utilizing him to attempt to take away Earth from the timestream. The Avengers wish to cease this, however Tony is such a goshdarn smartypants that nobody can undo the harm he has achieved, not even the mixed mental skills of each scientist in Wakanda, together with Black Panther. As far as plot factors go, that’s up there with One More Day‘s “we all forgot how to treat bullet wounds” as one of many greatest a great deal of rubbish Marvel has ever tried to promote.
Eventually, our heroes determine that the one one that can cease Tony Stark is Tony Stark. So they go tiptoeing via the timestream/multiverse and pluck an untainted, 19-year-old Starkling out of the previous to assist them out.
OG Tony assaults Teen Tony, giving him a coronary heart situation that may solely be ameliorated with an armored chestplate, conveniently establishing a way of continuity. Then OG Tony sacrifices himself to cease Kang’s plans, leaving Teen Tony as our universe’s sole Iron Man.
Teen Tony settled in fast sufficient, enrolling at Columbia University and even working with the Avengers…and that was all he bought to do. “The Crossing” occurred in 1995. The very subsequent 12 months, “Onslaught” occurred, seemingly killing many of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. By the time they returned, Iron Man was again to his non-evil grownup self. Teen Tony — that poor, ill-conceived plot level — was swept underneath the carpet.
Until tv got here a-knocking.
On With the Show
Iron Man: Armored Adventures mercifully had jack-all to do with “The Crossing.” This Teen Tony was left orphaned after his father was killed in a airplane crash. Tony, additionally on the airplane, survived because of the armor that he simply so occurred to have simply invented and introduced with him. Tony decides to make use of the armor to forestall unhealthy guys — together with Obadiah Stane, who has management of Stark Industries till Tony comes of age — from misusing his father’s innovations.
Most of the opposite characters — Nick Fury, Hawkeye, Hulk, and varied villains — had been saved at their common ages. But some had been de-aged together with Tony, most notably his associates Rhodey and Pepper, and his archnemesis, the Mandarin.
I’ve many emotions concerning the Mandarin, most of which may be summed up as “put him in the bin,” however at the very least this sequence put some effort into making him an attention-grabbing character. Gene Khan, satisfied that he’s destined to make use of ten energy rings to result in world peace/subjugation, pretends to befriend Tony whereas exploiting his intelligence to search out the lacking rings. While he does betray Tony on the finish of season 1, he’s mildly conflicted about it. Season 2 even ends with him deciding possibly he needs to be a hero as an alternative of a conqueror.
The season 1 finale reveals that Tony’s dad Howard survived the airplane crash in any case, and Mandarin had been making him seek for the rings as nicely. This model of Howard is significantly nicer than others; the sequence transferred the entire “I must stop making weapons” revelation from Tony to Howard, and so far as we ever see, he’s a wonderfully caring, non-alcoholic, non-abusive father or mother. (This seems to have been a development. Marvel Adventures: Iron Man, a kid-friendly reboot of the character revealed in 2007–08, additionally de-douched and resurrected Howard. Not Tony’s mother, although. She can keep lifeless for all we care.)
Armored Adventures led to 2012 — the identical 12 months as The Avengers hit theaters — with a workforce of proto-Avengers heading off an alien invasion and Tony falling out of the sky after seemingly sacrificing himself to save lots of everybody, which is kind of the coincidence.
But Why, Though?
By this level, you is likely to be asking why they bothered to make an Iron Man sequence in any respect in the event that they had been going to alter him a lot. Heck, can he actually be Iron Man with out the alcoholism and the ethical ambiguity? Tony does nonetheless retain his important persona traits — being snarky, working too exhausting, doubting himself consistently, often being tempted to the darkish facet — however these traits describe plenty of heroes. Isn’t “teen science genius superhero” Spider-Man’s division?
One factor to differentiate Teen Tony is Rhodey and Pepper, who smack sense into him as obligatory. They ultimately be a part of him out within the area, with Rhodey getting his War Machine armor and Pepper — after MUCH nagging on her half — attending to be Rescue for about two episodes.
Even past that, there may be nonetheless a lot right here to mark this as a distinctly Iron Man cartoon. One of the present’s major villains is Obadiah Stane, a businessman who tries to take over Stark Industries. A recurring theme in Iron Man comics is that individuals are consistently attempting to pay money for Tony’s enterprise and pressure him to return to designing weapons, and that’s an enormous a part of the present, too. There are additionally just a few episodes the place Tony brings the authorized hammer down on Stane with the assistance of his guardian, Roberta Rhodes, Rhodey’s mom and a badass lawyer.
(Honestly, Roberta is severely underused. I suppose it might have wrecked the “teen hero” vibe, however I for one would have preferred to see Tony and Roberta bond some extra, grieve collectively over Howard’s loss of life, and kick some authorized butt.)
Other business-related villains embody Justin Hammer (right here de-aged to a frat boy) and the Ghost, a hacker who discovers Iron Man’s secret identification and threatens to out him on his 18th birthday. This proves irrelevant, as his identification is slowly leaked to everybody and their grandmother all through season 2, culminating in Tony dropping his helmet in the midst of a busy avenue. Iron Man foe/love curiosity Madame Masque additionally seems, although I concern that die-hard followers of the character will likely be disillusioned.
In the tip, I’m undecided if this present is healthier suited to Iron Man followers (although it modifications a lot concerning the character) or for individuals who don’t like Iron Man all that a lot (although it has Iron Man in it). Either method, I wouldn’t name it a must-watch, except you’re a completist. But it’s a enjoyable present, and you probably have Disney+, it received’t value you something additional to present it a shot. At least try the bangin’ theme track.