A while back I blogged on the trailer for the upcoming Iron Man cartoon, basically saying it looked terrible. Having now caught some of the episodes on Jetix though I feel an update is required.
Its not terrible. In fact, I’m really quite enjoying it.
Obviously, the show plays really loose with the Iron Man mythos. The key parts are still there, heavily influenced by the movie. However the key players are all now 16. Obidiah Stane is one of the main recurring villains thanks to the movie, having taken over Stark Industries after Howard Stark dies and is turning all the Stark Tech into military hardware much to Tony’s disgust. As he’s only 16 Tony’s can’t take control of the company until he’s legally an adult, so instead is forced out, living with his best friend James Rhodes while also using the Iron Man armour to try and dig up any dirt he can on Stane and expose him for the evil so-and-so he is.
Its interesting to see how Stane’s success in the movie has moved him firmly into the role previously occupied by Justin Hammer. Its especially interesting given that Hammer himself is featuring in the next movie.
The other running villain is the Mandarin. In something very similar to season 2 of the 90s cartoon, there’s a running plot through the series of the Mandarin trying to retrieve all his rings. However in this series there’s only 5, hidden in various temples across the world, and all have a test that must be passed so the Mandarin can prove himself worthy of the ring. These tests allow the writers to work other villains into the show. For example the test for the third ring finds Iron Man and the Mandarin facing off against Ultimo.
The Mandarin however is quite different to his comics incarnation. The rings project a suit of demonic-looking samurai armour that identifies the Mandarin, however under the armour is secretly a 16 year-old classmate of Tony’s, who is using Tony to try and locate the other rings (Howard Stark had located the second ring and researching them was one of his passions).
Iron Man’s rogues gallery is pretty well served by this show, although again most of the characters can be quite different to their comics versions. In the episodes I’ve seen, outside of Stane and the Mandarin, there’s also been appearances by the Crimson Dynamo, The Controller, AIM and Madame Masque.
If you’re a continuity fanatic then this isn’t the show for you, and to be honest, I really expected to hate it. However, its sucked me in. Yes, reimagining everyone as 16 years old takes some getting used to, but in general I think this is a pretty well-made cartoon, helped in part by the plot arc with the Mandarin, while also setting up other plots that come back in later episodes. The only real complaint I’d make is that sometimes the CGI animation results in the characters looking quite plasticy. In some lighting it doesn’t really render skin all that well, but most of the time its ok.