Unless I’m able to find an embeddable version by press time, I’m just going to direct you to the Nicktoon Network IM:AA website for this one. Just click the logo above. There you can check out the first two episodes (WARNING: may be blocked outside of the US–those of you in the UK can consider it payback for the BBC site not letting us watch any of the Doctor Who video–even the behind the scene stuff well after the episode’s aired around the world), check out some games, spoil yourself crazy on future episodes, and check out an online comic that really isn’t all that interesting.
You’ll want to watch the episodes first, as I’ll be spoiling the hell out of them in this review, so go click that logo now and see if you can watch the episodes. I’ll just note before I hit the “MORE” tag that I was right about the second episode being the same one from the Wal-Mart exclusive. Continue at your own risk, because I’m not holding any spoilers back. This is your final warning!
OK, it’s on your head now!
Would I say this is the coolest thing ever? No, that would be exaggerating. Is it darn good? That would be closer to accurate. Purists are going to have fits, but I’m not sure I ever cared what purists think. You accept some changes for the sake of the audience, the times, or whatever else. Perhaps the whole “teenage Tony” thing has them slightly off edge to begin with, bringing horrible flashbacks of the last Teen Tony, which was a bad idea.
However, this has zero connection with that, and it’s a pretty good version. Missing is Professor Yinsen, and I thought they rushed Tony into hero mode a bit fast for a two-part story. It’s possible that Rhodey aided in putting in his heart implant, similar to his standing in for Yinsen in Invincible Iron Man (see Thursday’s salute to previous Iron Man cartoons), since Tony does tell the suit to head for Rhodey.
In this version, Howard Stark is (or was) still alive, and has a stronger father/son relationship than most of the other versions I’ve seen. Rhodey refers to them as “dueling mad scientists”, which means they love outdoing each other. Usually, Howard’s a bit of a jerk and sometimes jealous of his son’s early achievements while annoyed at Tony’s preference to party than take the business seriously. So already, Howard’s making out better in this series, even though he’s killed halfway through episode 1. Now Tony’s given the old “I must avenge my father” routine (his mother having died years ago), which is nothing new, but it’s new to the Tony Stark character. In the Marvel Adventures: Iron Man series I wish Marvel had kept publishing, Howard goes into seclusion, and becomes a better man for it. In the Invincible movie he gets pushed into framing his son for the good of the company. So even in death, AA Howard is a more likeable character from day one.
With Rhodey, we again have him knowing Tony prior to his heart damage. In the live movie last year, this was also the case, but as in the comics he came to Tony’s rescue when Stark was captured by guerrilla fighters. This time they’re best friends, and Rhodey’s dad maintains a private building for Howard. (Hopefully it’s not part of Stark International, or Stane is going to be giving Tony more grief. More on that in a moment.) He also serves as Tony’s second eyes during his Iron Man missions, as well as helping keep his identity a secret as Tony tries to prove Stane was behind the plane bombing. Rhodey also serves to try and ground Tony, perhaps making sure Tony’s desire to expose Stane doesn’t drive his friend insane. I see a number of ways AA Rhodey can be used in this series, and help give Tony some balance in his life.
Ah, Ms. Pepper Potts. No connection to Stark at all this time, and her first tv series appearance since the old Marvel Super Heroes, not counting her way out of character portrayal in Invincible Iron Man, and the spot-on live action form of Gwenneth Paltrow. A little firecracker, this one. She’s either going to grow on you with her mile-a-minute sugar rush personality or make you reach for the duct tape out of instinct. In this version, her father is a government investigator who also seems to think Stane is connected to the plane “accident” that killed Howard, so she’s already learned quite a bit about him. In true Pepper fashion, she seems to have another “interest” in our young Stark, as evidenced by her asking Rhodey if Tony’s seeing anyone. It’s only a matter of time before she becomes part of the team, considering how hard she’s trying to become part of the circle without even making an Iron Man connection. AA Pepper is going to be a lot of fun..or frustration.
Then there’s Happy Hogan. Typical dumb jock type, minus the Flash Thompson-style bullying. He really got the short end of the stick on this one. He isn’t even in the episode guide for more than one story, and even then he’s a bad plot device. Oddly, he doesn’t seem to be interested in Pepper like comic Happy, but maybe that changes in later episodes. AA Happy is going to be an utterly useless comic relief character, isn’t he?
Obidiah Stane is taking cues from Jeff Bridges’ portryal in the movies, and going way over the top. In the movie, as here, Stane actually works for Howard Stark, and wants to push towards military development. He becomes so obsessed with converting the father/son deviced excavation machines into war machines, Howard is considering firing him. (Sidebar: who the hell designed these things for this cartoon? I don’t see a reason for making this “Earthmovers” resemble skyscrapers on a walking tripod and spitting lasers to begin with, much less ignoring the fact that there’s no way such a thing could work in the real world. From every engineering perspective, this thing is poorly designed.) Obviously, Stane exists to show the audience (kids, remember) that evil people design war weapons, which when you consider the concept Stan Lee and co used to create the Tony character to begin with (making a hero out of a weapons developer during the Vietnam days), is rather odd. AA Stane should get into his Iron Monger armor and die soon, to keep from being the one-note that he is.
Much more interesting is the Mandarin. Just as Tony and Howard (in this version) had a very close father/son relationship, Gene Khan has the exact opposite with his stepfather. We’re not told what happened to Gene’s mother prior to the series. We only know that he is in his stepfather’s care, and that his father is the Mandarin. The Mandarin is trying to get his hands on the infamous rings, which Howard believed were not magic but a far advanced technology. (In the comics, the rings indeed are alien devices the Mandarin adapts to aid in ushering in his evil empire.) Gene knows they’re more than symbols and usurps his stepfather, stuffing him in a dungeon–at least for now. Now Gene/Mandarin2 is determined to get the other rings and unlock their powers. AA Mandarin is going to get a lot more interesting, if the episode guide is any indication.
So some interesting takes on characters we know, and other Iron Man rogues are scheduled to come out, some of them spouting their own armor, whether their comic counterparts wore it or not. This is where the “Armored Adventures” come in, and this is the part that an armor freak like me will be most interested in as this series airs. I’ll revisit this series here at the Spotlight once the series ends.
[…] of that whole de-aged thing while Pepper and Happy were so far removed from their counterparts. I actually liked the show outside of that. Also, looking that old review over it’s funny how I complained about purists […]