Some of you may be familiar with the concept of “teenerizing” a show in order to make it more palatable or “relateable” to a younger audience. Some of you may even be familiar with the “pre-teenerizing” of a show, made famous by Muppet Babies. That name has practically become synonymous with the concept.
Well, Iron Man: Armored Adventures (IM:AA) is a teenerized version of the Iron Man property. The series plays fast and loose with the entire setting. Very loose. However, there is some effort to keep the spirit of the property intact for which we here at the Fortress are grateful. We are fans of Iron Man and reasonably knowledgeable of his universe.
Certainly, this adaptation is much better than another recent “tweenerized” superhero flick, The Next Avengers. So here is the one sentence synopsis:
In a contrived twist, high school “sooper genius” Tony Stark inherits his father’s company but cannot take control until his 18th birthday and in the meantime must fight the evil machinations of current CEO and bad guy Stane and the mysterious Mandarin while in the anonymous guise of his latest invention the Iron Man armor and along the way learn about humility, friendship and the power of teenage crushes er, a bunch of really cool suits of armor.
To grab those familiar with the property, the show introduces right at the start someone who looks exactly like classic Tony Stark. But that is NOT Tony Stark, it is his father. Tony Stark is the whiny kid next to him.
They also introduce someone who looks just like the classic Iron Man arch enemy, the Mandarin. But that is not the real Mandarin, that is his stepfather. The real Mandarin is the whiny kid next to him.
And in like manner all the young-versioned characters in the Iron Man mythos are introduced. Oh, except for Nick Fury who continues to be the old, cantankerous Samuel L. Jackson looking “Ultimate Universe” version also popularized in the Robert Downey film.
The look is fun and unusual. It may remind some of you of the excellent Skyland series and indeed was made at the same animation house, LuxAnimation. It is a fun cel shaded computer generated look. It works well with the varying armor types Stark dons. They are the keystone of the property after all. Space armor, underwater armor, etc., and the infamous War Machine armor.
Some of the additional armors were a little disappointing in appearance. A little blah. But importantly, they got the Uni Beam on Iron Man’s chest right. It is ROUND. It has been so for 90% of Iron Man’s history. It is one of his trademarks. It is not shield shaped like Superman’s “S”, despite occasional dalliances by various Marvel artists.
We compliment the day to day design team more than we do those who envisioned the whole adaptation. The design of supporting characters like Madame Masque and the various weapons used throughout the season are imaginative and entertaining.
If you are a fan of the Iron Man rogue’s gallery, you will see reinvented origins of all your old favorites like the Crimson Dynamo, Living Laser, A.I.M and M.O.D.O.K. Thankfully, the rogues were not as teenerized as the heroes.
Is it annoying to see Mr. Genius wrestle with puerile high school hijinks when lives are at stake? Yes. Is it a little discouraging to see Stark never fully come out on top? Yeah. Is it frustrating to see the major bad guys elude getting their comeuppance the entire season? Oh yeah.
But the show is fun, interesting and worth watching.