Iron Man: Armored Adventures: Season Two, Volume Two (DVD)

That’s not Extremis, you just have a head cold.

Silly me. When I volunteered to review this disc, I somehow had the idea in my head that this was a direct-to-video standalone animated feature. Turns out it’s the second half of the second season of the series Iron Man: Armored Adventures, which I’ve never seen. How does the show hold up for someone jumping right into the middle of it? Let’s find out.

Teenage Tony Stark (Adrian Petriw), son of a wealthy industrialist, is secretly Iron Man, the city’s armored protector. He’s aided by his friends, Pepper Potts (Anna Cummer), who longs to have a suit of armor of her own, and James Rhodes (Daniel Bacon) who fights evil beside Tony as the U.S. War Machine. While duking it with foes such as the Mandarin and Dr. Doom, Tony searches for his missing father. He also occasionally butts heads with the folks from S.H.I.E.L.D., not to mention a doctor named Banner…

At first, this show perplexed me, with me not knowing who it was for. I thought casual viewers familiar only with the recent Marvel movies might be turned off by this new, younger take on the character. Similarly, I assumed comic book dork-borkers would also be turned off, not seeing their favorite Shellhead adventures from the page recreated on screen. The sometimes clunky CGI animation further had me hesitating as well.

But then, as I kept watching, the show’s positives started winning me over. Once you get used to the visuals, you start to notice the characters aren’t as stiff or as uncanny valley-ish as they initially appeared. Iron Man and War Machine fly and fight much like they do in the movies. When the characters are out of their armor, you can tell the animators are pushing the tech as the hard as they can to get smooth, naturalistic movements from them. A whole slew of Marvel characters join in on the fun, from Avengers characters we saw on the big screen to obscure goofball villains like Unicorn (a dude with a magic horn on his forehead).

If you take the view that this is a whole new Iron Man and leave what you’ve already seen/read at the door, then there’s a lot of fun to be had here. This teen Tony is more like half Iron Man and half Spider-Man, in that he has the former’s high-tech smarts, with the latter’s youthful energy. There’s no dark angsty superheroism here. Instead, the show makes it look like fighting bad guys can be fun. There are some serious moments, though, most notably when the show deals with Tony’s relationship with his father, and these too are handled nicely.

It’s true that I enjoyed the visuals once I got used to them, but it still bugged me that this city Tony lives in appears to empty of anyone except him and his friends. Skyscrapers are white rectangles, and there’s never a pedestrian to be found. I get that animation is expensive and all, but this city never once looks lived in.

Audio and video are solid, with bright, vivid colors and booming explosions. For extras, we’ve got galleries of original artwork for various characters and vehicles.

Iron Man: Armored Adventures is a pleasant surprise. It’s a different Iron Man then we’re used to, but give it a chance and you might find a lot to enjoy here, as I did.

The Verdict

Not iron guilty.

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