Episode #39 - Heavy Mettle
Original Airdate - November 26th, 2011
After Stane is fired from Stark International, he discovers Iron Man’s identity and steals Iron Monger to destroy him, leading to a battle that includes a scheming Titanium Man!

Written TBD
Directed By Stephane Juffe and Phillipe Guyenne
Review by Arsenal


“Heavy Mettle” does a good job of pointing out its flaws before any critic can.

Example one: Its final act is a riff on the classic scene in King Kong where the enormous ape carries the beautiful woman up the Empire State Building – except, instead of Kong we have an Obadiah Stane-piloted Iron Monger; instead of the glamorous blonde we have Pepper Potts; and, in lieu of a New York landmark, we have a nameless skyscraper.

This is an homage that’s been done to death. Everyone from the Simpsons to Phineas and Ferb has done it. And Iron Man: Armored Adventures doesn’t bother to wring anything new from this scenario.

However, it at least lets Pepper complain about the set-up’s lack of originality.

“Are you going to knock some airplanes out of the sky?” she taunts.

Of course, noticing that you lack originality doesn’t compensate for lacking originality.

Example two: this episode uses both of its female leads as damsels in distress.

Both Pepper and Whitney Stane get to run from robots and be thrown from skyscrapers while the boys fight it out.

Once again, Pepper critiques the action before anyone else can.

“This damsel-in-distress thing is so lame,” she notes.

It is – especially considering both Pepper and Whitney have shown more spunk in the past than, say, Gwen Stacy.

Final example: The episode concludes with a 3-way smackdown between Iron Monger, Titanium Man (operated by Justin Hammer) and the tag team of Iron Man and War Machine.

The fight ends Iron Monger falling to the pavement from the top of the skyscraper (as King Kong must) and Hammer commenting, “Now Stane’s body is as one-dimensional as his personality.”

And that is the problem with this episode in a nutshell. It asks us to care about Obadiah Stane; but we don’t because he’s spent the last 39 episodes as a one-dimensional robber baron complete.

Maybe if the creators spent more time playing Stane as a morally gray tweener, as opposed to a cackling villain, we could care when he tumbles to his demise. They, at least, could have given him a few more sympathetic moments with his daughter before this episode. That would have provided just enough pathos for this to be more than a super-robot rumble.

That having been said, the super-robot rumble was pretty fun even if it depended on another technological macguffin. (Hammer uses a piece of unexplained tech to control Iron Monger. If Hammer has that sort of tech, why doesn’t he just use it on Iron Man and War Machine. This is the sort of logical fallacy that merits, at least, a line of dialogue.)

But maybe I’m overthinking “Heavy Mettle.” Maybe I shouldn’t worry about uninspired homages, stereotypical gender roles in action movies or unsympathetic villains.

I suspect if one watches this episode without sweating the small (and some medium-sized) stuff, then they’ll enjoy the action. Because this episode gives us a lot of moments we’ve been waiting for – Tony Stark threatens to drop Stane to the concrete, Batman-style; a villain finally takes it to Tony where he lives.

Also, Whitney Stane’s seemingly supervillain turn at the end was well executed. It helps that the emotions building up to that moment felt earned.

So maybe this episode is a mirror for the audience. If you want to find a reason to roll your eyes at “Heavy Mettle,” it gives you plenty to work with (and it seems to know that.) However, if you want to enjoy it for what it is – 22 minutes of escapism –you’ll have no problem doing that.

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