In the following interview, Len Uhley talks to Marvel Animation Age about the challenges that came with adapting the acclaimed Iron Man storyline "Armor Wars."
MAA: How did you come to work on Iron Man? Had you seen any of the previous season before accepting the job? If so, what did you think to the circumstances surrounding the reboot of the show, with the majority of the crew being replaced and the show undergoing a complete overhaul in both writing and direction?
Uhley: As above, none of this rings a bell with me. Sorry
MAA: The romantic relationship between Julia and Tony was in full force here, with Julia continually acting concerned for Tony whilst becoming increasingly annoyed with his disregard for the feelings of those around him. What did you think to their relationship, especially it’s origins as him leaving her standing at the alter was never shown?
Uhley: Again, I remember nothing on this topic. If there was any romance angle in the story, I only hope I handled it well.
MAA: The Armour Wars was one of the more intense storylines in Iron Man’s comic book lore, with the main character almost reaching his breaking point. However, in the animated version, he completely snaps. Was it difficult to write a hero who was almost becoming that which he fought against? What did you think to the original comic storyline?
Uhley: Actually, it's always interesting to deal with a character who loses touch with himself (so long as that personality is well-established previously). I remember it being a very good comic book. But, as is always the case, there was too much plot for 44 minutes of screen time (two 22-minute episodes). So even if the thing was solid gold, lots of it probably fell by the wayside.
MAA: In the original comic storyline, Iron Man fought The Captain in The Vault, rather than Hawkeye. This has been chalked up to rights issues but the majority of fans believe that the Iron Man/Hawkeye confrontation was one of the show’s highlights. What’s your opinion on the scene?
Uhley: As happy as I am to take credit (deserved or otherwise) for a highlight -- I can't tell you my opinion of the scene (since I don't recall much about it, and the script is filed away somewhere), but I can tell you that Captain America was not available for our use. Too bad, I've always liked Cap, but I never had a change to write for him. I did get a chance to write the Sub-Mariner a couple of times, though -- once for the Avengers back in the 1990's, and once for the most recent version of the Fantastic Four (see below). So, it's all good.
MAA: Similar question – in the comic, Rhodey acts as Iron Man’s sidekick, helping him to stop those using his armour for ill means. In the cartoon, Iron Man attacks Rhodey as soon as he wears his War Machine armour. What made you decide to pitch them against each other?
Uhley: Again, I have no clue how this came about -- was it something I was told to do, or was it my own half-baked notion? The answer is lost in the mists of time.
MAA: Was there ever any concern about the number of characters introduced in the episodes whom viewers had never seen before?
Uhley: None that I can remember. More of a headache on the production side, I should think -- all those new designs...
MAA: As the show was syndicated, you didn’t have to deal with Broadcast Standards and Practises. Do you think this allows you to cut loose with the story more or has BS+P never really concerned you?
Uhley: Any BS&P issues are the responsibility of the story editor(s). Freelance writers get to duck that particular bullet. Having said that, we're still talking about a children's cartoon that plays during the day. So one adjusts accordingly.
MAA: Any other Iron Man stories you would’ve liked to tell but never got the opportunity to?
Uhley: Yes, I'd like to write the sequel to the Iron Man feature. If you can figure out how to make that happen, let me know.
MAA: You’re working on the upcoming Iron Man: The Animated Series for Nickolodean. What can you tell us about your work so far on that?
Uhley: Again, I did not work on the new version in the manner you're thinking (large writing staffs are a thing of the past). I was fortunate enough to write one freelance episode of the new Iron Man (entitled "Field Trip") for the show's talented story editor, Christopher Yost. (I had previously written three episodes for his previous series, Fantastic Four.) He's a great guy, and if you haven't talked to him about the Nick version, you really should.
MAA: What’s your overall opinion of the show? How does it hold up against the other superhero cartoons of the time?
Uhley: It was fun to write, and I vaguely remember that it looked pretty good. Is it even available on DVD?
The Marvel Animation Age would like to thank Len for his participation in this interview, and his work on the show. Cheers Len!