Iron Man: Armored Adventures carries on the traditional superhero cartoon staple of making everyone a teenager and injecting drama into everything, this time asking what if Tony Stark had his Iron Man armor at the sweet age of sixteen? With a surprisingly boastful two seasons scrying the depths of the Marvel Universe, you may doubt if you have enough time to fully appreciate every Arc Reactor charged episode. Have no fear, as I am here to provide you with the cheat sheet of what you need to know about this underage underdog of umber armor with the top ten episodes of Iron Man: Armored Adventures.
10. Iron Man vs. The Crimson Dynamo
Ivan Vanko, the Crimson Dynamo (who was technically depicted by Mickey Rourke in Iron Man 2) is caught in a solar flare in a deep space mission gone wrong due to poor science.
Instead of gaining superpowers based on whatever he was holding at the time like the rest of the Marvel Universe characters do when irradiated, when bombarded by solar radiation and left to drift in a mecha in space for two years, Vanko goes from highly-trained cosmonaut to Cosmo sex-column writer. It appears that Vanko has developed space madness, not unlike Firefly’s Reavers, Snake Eater’s The Fury, Dave from 2001, or Major Tom of David Bowie’s Space Oddity. How many fictional characters will we have to sacrifice to vacuum-dementia before we outlaw space?
The Dynamo’s goal is to return to home base, Pegasus-1, in order to exact revenge on his “comrades” who left him alone to die in space and live inside a chubby robot that walks as if it always needs to poop right now. Personally, I’m surprised that he thought about these dudes while floating through space for a a few years… or that he hasn’t married the Crimson Dynamo suit already, which despite its name is clearly white.
Regardless, “Iron Man vs. The Crimson Dynamo” remains one of my favorite episodes, both because it addresses my favorite recurring villain-fuel of space-madness, and also because it follows what I like to call a “Stop the Juggernaut” plot outline. In these plots, a gigantic force of nature has to barrel through several lines of defense in order to get to a specific goal, and the heroes have to throw as many things as possible in its way in order to stop it, proving to be unsuccessful only up until the last minute where something non-violent happens in order to stop it. In X-Men Evolution, this was Xavier doing a mental breach of the Juggernaut, in Justice League Unlimited it was a lecture from Lex Luthor, and here it’s a kindly Russian family getting hugged by a fat robot. Delightful.
9. Ready, A.I.M., Fire
As if the title didn’t give it away, this episode introduces Advanced Idea Mechanics, or A.I.M., into the Armored Adventures world, hitting the ground running with a great sequence of A.I.M. henchmen firing at Tony with a variety of science guns.
An anti-gravity gun hits Tony, causing him to enter earth’s orbit, and then burn up upon re-entry when the armor goes through a reboot, which features a perfectly ill fitting dirge of Muzak as Tony hurtles towards the pavement.
This is all before the opening credits mind you.
This episode also features the introduction of S.H.I.E.L.D., as you can’t have evil henchmen without good henchmen, so it’s an episode of many firsts. Another is Obediah Shane’s surprisingly hot daughter Whitney wants to go to Tony’s high school, specifically just to get closer to Tony.
A.I.M. is off the walls bananas for bees, so much so that even when breaking the law with their terrorist department, they still make sure to incorporate the bee theme that corporate is just crazy about. In the real world, that would be like Louis Vuitton employees robbing banks with Louis Vuitton-checkered balaclavas and shoving the loot into LV money bags.
Interestingly enough however, A.I.M.’s redesigns for Armored Adventures is actually significantly cooler than their comic book counterparts, with the head A.I.M. scientist sporting a Castle Crasher vibe that makes AIM look more like a science terrorist cell than renegade engineers in clean suits.
A.I.M. approaches Tony with a job opportunity, and Tony, unable to notice matching honeycomb themes despite his genius IQ, inadvertently places his friends under the hypnotic technology of The Controller. This mind control is represented by a paleness of the skin, red eyes, and a red runny nose. For millions of dollars and countless hours of research and illegal heists, A.I.M. has finally made a crack-head machine.
Incidentally I don’t know what it is about the A.I.M. henchmen, but they are always solid sources of hilarious banter. Something about the clean suits/bee-keeper look just makes everything they say ridiculous; I mean why else are they the go-to henchmen in Deadpool comics?
8. Man and Iron Man
In this episode we open on a Matrix Revolutions inspired fight in the rain with Whiplash, who I could have sworn died in a fire, fighting Iron Man atop a flying platform before they both crumble to the ground like a failed sci-fi franchise.
Although we started in media res, the episode flashes back to before this apparent low-point. At this point in the episode, I’m thinking okay, maybe they will explain how Whiplash is back from the dead, but nope. Dude is simply just chilling downtown with a new robot arm, explaining that he has to work for tech-villain supplier Mr. Fix to clear his debt. Mr. Fix gives Whiplash an upgraded version of his whip-arms, giving him full access to all of Ivy’s combos from Soul Caliber.
Wait. So if Whiplash has to work for Mr. Fix in order to fix his arm, which if The Six Million Dollar Man has taught us anything costs at least 2 million dollars, then Tony is just beating on a double amputee who is being blackmailed by a mad scientist.
Back in the Matrix Revolutions rain, Tony is forced to abandon his Iron Man armor, which is then inhabited by a Stark nanotech virus that has gone insane.
Yes, this is the exact same plot of that one Batman Beyond episode with the ghost in the machine, except that episode had a utility belt and domino mask.
We learn that Pepper is able to have two conversations simultaneously, one via txt and the other via mouth with the same group in real time, and Moose stand-in Happy Hogan can sleep with his eyes open, which begs the question– who is the real genius on this show?
So the virus hijacks the armor while Tony is still inside of it, and the suit almost repulsor blasts Mr. Fix’s face at point blank range before Tony can overpower it. This is all well and good, as we become aware that this is literally the story of a teenager in a walking tank, but it begs the question, when Tony blasted Madame Masque in her stomach, did that make her infertile?
Basically, it’s an artificial intelligence plot straight out of Asimov, with the suit viewing Tony’s well-being as its prime directive, regarding Tony’s friends and the outside world as threats. This perspective translates into the armor attempting to kill Tony’s friends, telling him not to resist and assuring him that “all of his biological needs will be met…” as she (the armor has a girl voice) slowly hover-sashays over to Tony, demanding that he get inside of her.
Literally, she opens up the chest part of the armor for him to climb inside. Nothing sexual about it. Nope. Nope nope nope.
Tony’s arc reactor battery dies briefly, and the armor repeats “Protect the wearer” while reaching for a circular blue disc as a thick ring spins in its own user face HUD. I think this is a convoluted metaphor for safe sex, but then again this entire episode is just… trippy.
By the episode’s end, Tony has reprogrammed the armor so that it would never do anything like that ever again, not knowing of the impossibly horrifying and intriguing acts that he only could’ve done while living inside of a iron-alloy based girlfriend.