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Iron Man: Armored Adventures doesn’t quite get Tony Stark

'Iron Man: Armored Adventures' Season 2 Vol. 1 is out on DVD now. Jumping into the series, I enjoyed it, but didn't quite understand some character choices.

I’m still on a bit of an Avengers kick and with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes coming to a close, I’ve been looking for other Marvel shows to check out. So, when I got the newly released Iron Man: Armored Adventures Season 2 Vol. 1 DVD to review, I was interested in seeing another versions of Tony Stark on TV. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite hold up as well as I had hoped.

I hadn’t watched anything from the first season of the show before putting in the DVD. So, except for my general knowledge of the Marvel universe and Iron Man, I went into this cold turkey. The series greatly differs from the traditional Iron Man origin, but the first episode drops us into the story pretty quick and I managed to figure out some things about the previous season off the bat. Iron Man: Armored Adventures is about teenage prodigy Tony Stark, who recently lost his dad in a plane crash. The crash also caused Tony’s heart injury that leads him to become Iron Man, fighting bad guys in secret while also still being a “normal” teenager. His friend Gene (soon to be Iron Man baddie the Mandarin) apparently betrayed him in the first season’s finale, but Gene had admitted that Tony’s father might still be alive. Since the finale, Tony has been looking for his dad throughout Asia while his friends Pepper and Rhodey (as War Machine) have been holding down the fort in New York. So now that we’re all caught up …

What appealed to me about the show overall is how Tony has to deal with multiple antagonists at a time who each have their own motives. There is always the looming danger of Stark Industries president Obadiah Stane, who quite obviously caused the plane accident and is pretty set on taking out Tony one way or another before he turns 18 next year and gains control over the company. There’s also a new threat in a mysterious benefactor to the villains Mr. Fix and Whiplash. On top of that, a 20-something Justin Hammer is trying to take over Stark Industries, which makes him an antagonist for both Stane and Tony. All in all, there’s some interesting stuff going on in these power struggles. And in the middle of the DVD episodes was also a rather bold story choice with the villain Ghost learning Tony’s identity and promising to blackmail him when he turns 18 and has control of the company … so Ghost has control of the company. That episode also showed the start of this canon’s version of the Armor Wars saga.

Of all the character portrayals in this series, I enjoyed Rhodey’s the most. He’s still the feet-on-the-ground reasonable best friend, but they give him a lot to do and he fights alongside Tony as War Hammer more often than not. He also pulls off some good quips, and the chemistry between the trio is enjoyable to watch. I also liked how they tried to represent Tony from within the suit and that Tony had the forward thinking to install voice masking software so Iron Man sounds like an adult.

The problem with the show really comes with Tony himself. I know exactly why they chose to age down the main characters — because there’s this common misconception that kids need to see kids in their cartoons in order to relate to them and buy things. Telling those “what if” or prequel stories aren’t necessarily doomed to be poor, but you have to get the characters right. They have to seem like the same characters, just a little less rough around the edges. I watched Iron Man: Armored Adventures and couldn’t see Tony Stark in young Tony Stark.

Even if you take away the more “adult” things about the character like his goatee and his booze and even his gaggle of ladyfolk, you’d still have a snarky, cocky and almost insufferable guy. Armored Adventures‘ Tony is too good for his own good. We do get some quips from him, but it’s more on par with Peter Parker than Tony Stark. Actually, with the juggling of his school life and being a clean-nosed crime-fighter, this Tony does seem to have more in common with Spider-Man than anyone else. He’s not the worst character I’ve ever seen, but I could have certainly used more biting wit in his dialogue and a little more swagger in his step. Oh, and Pepper Potts is a flibbertigibbet in this show … not sure how I feel about that.

The CG animation is certainly going for a specific style in this and I didn’t mind it. The action scenes were strong and I did find myself invested in most of the stories, especially once Ghost comes along. I just wish they hadn’t played it so safe with Tony’s personality. As far as the DVD extras go, there was only a gallery of character art for Tony and Justin Hammer. For that reason, I wouldn’t suggest buying the DVD unless you already really like the episodes themselves. It might also be worth it to wait until the season ends, since the first season was originally released in two parts and later came in a full season set. That being said, I liked parts of the show and would suggest Marvel fans at least check it out. The show is rumored to end with this season, but you can still watch new episodes on Nicktoons until July 26th.

Photo Credit: Nicktoons

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