Starting this Friday, April 24, a new Nicktoons Network/Marvel Animation series starts to follow the teenage years of Marvel's armored super hero. Yes, a teenage Tony Stark struts his stuff in Iron Man: Armored Adventures.
After the insane success of last year's Iron Man movie with Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, it's only natural that Marvel would want to capitalize on the phenomenon. But when I heard about this series, I was worried. A teenage Iron Man? How would they pull that off?
Well, honestly, they don't pull it off. The best way I can put it is that you have to take Iron Man: Armored Adventures and assume it's in a parallel universe where things are different than the main Iron Man timeline (which 2008's Iron Man movie and next year's Iron Man 2 movie do recognize). So if you take the new animated series out of the main Iron Man context, the rest of it works fine.
In this alternate universe, Tony Stark is a teenager who's best friend is Rhodey (James Rhodes). Tony just happens to be an inventive genius, just like his father, Howard Stark, the head of Stark Industries. Except for the teenager part, this is pretty much the same background as Iron Man.
In the first episode, "Iron Forged in Fire, Part 1" we see Tony finish creating the Iron Man armor which he tries to show to his father. But before he can do so, he and his father are in a plane crash. His father is killed and Tony is mortally wounded. The Iron Man suit saves him and gives a new electronic heart in the process. Obadiah Stane, one of Howard Stark's right-hand men, steps in to take control of Stark Industries, effectively shutting Tony out of the corporation and his former home until Tony is 18.
Tony goes to live with the Rhodes family and starts attending the same high school as his friend Rhodey. He meets a new friend, Patricia "Pepper" Pots who is a sharp, energetic, and curious daughter of an FBI agent. She knows Tony and Rhodey are up to something and starts hanging around to find out what.
In "Iron Forged in Fire, Part 2," we see Tony start figuring out that Stane is turning his and his father's inventions into weapons. He also suspects that Stane might have been behind the plane crash that took his father's life. And if that's not bad enough, he meets the strange armored figure known only as "The Mandarin" — a figure who controlled two rings that Tony's father thought might have been ancient and quite powerful technologies.
Though the animation has been done on the computer, it's not as obvious or distracting as previous CGI-animated cartoons have been. The transitions between the portions where you see animated human characters and the Iron Man suit are actually pretty smooth.
I was apprehensive at first that I'd enjoy this new series, but after watching the first two episodes, I see myself setting Iron Man: Armored Adventures to regularly record on my DVR starting this Friday. There are 26 total episodes in the season, so we'll see what happens. If you liked the Iron Man movie or are an Iron Man fan from the comic books, this is another interesting interpretation of the mythos behind the armored suit. Just keep in mind that this Tony Stark operates in a different Marvel universe than the Robert Downey Jr. version.