TV on DVD: Iron Man -- The Complete 1994 Animated Television Series (Marvel DVD Comic Book Collection)
Unlike Marvel's vastly superior animated X-Men series, which managed to strike a sophisticated balance between action and allegory, there's nothing very memorable or even entertaining about the 1994 original series Iron Man, which is released in this slim-packaged set in its entirety.
Its flaws are made all the more glaring not only because Iron Man hit the street just days before director Jon Favreau released the live action sequel to the original smash hit adaptation of the graphic novel starring the irreplaceable Robert Downey Jr. but also because it bowed on disc alongside the fifth volume in same decade's X-Men series. Therefore, Iron Man seems like two-day old generic frozen pizza by comparison.
And aside from the lack of a cohesive structure as the two season series switched animation houses for its final year, drastically changing the look, tone, and plot-line of the series in a way that makes them feel separate rather than two halves of a whole, a big part of the problem is that we don't get a worthwhile introduction to our lead character since the “origins” episode for wealthy playboy Tony Stark occurs near the end of the '94 debut season.
Although it was one of the first series to employ THX sound, it doesn't begin to impress when you couple this with rudimentary CGI as the show awkwardly moves from pencil drawn technique to an odd computerized sequence whenever he suits up as our unstoppable flying iron hero.
Adding to the problem is its conception as most episodes use very little of the classic comic books as inspiration in its Justice League, X-Men or Masters of the Universe set-up as Stark works alongside other Marvel heroes including Spider Woman. As such, his role is so diminished that you wonder why the series was named after him instead of something involving Marvel Heroes etc. to better suit the situation.
And although this ensemble dynamic is greatly removed in the second half save for a final hurrah in the series finale to try and pull these two seasons together in some way to make them cohesive, overall, this is a far cry from the Iron Man we're used to today along with the great animated work Marvel has given us over the years, reminding us that when it comes to Iron Man, we can accept no substitutes for Robert Downey Jr.
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Labels: TV on DVD