Iron Man In Animation - A Retrospective

Part One - Part Two - Part Three - Part Four - Part Five - Part Six

One of the many wondrous creations by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Iron Man first debuted in 1963. Whilst never becoming one of the bigger guns in Marvelís vast arsenal, Iron Man has enjoyed a hell of a lot of animated appearances dating right back to ye olden days of Marvel Animation.

Back in 1966, several of Marvelís characters were licensed out a placed on a show called Marvel Superheroes. The show featured several short stories which, when comprised, would feature a full episode, usually taken directly from a comic. Unlike the Spider-Man and Fantastic Four cartoons of the time, these were simply the original comics with little to no animation. Throw in some cheesy voice-overs and the cheapest animation budget can buy. They do have their fans, if only because they are pretty much as faithful as you can be to the original comics and they feature artwork from Jack Kirby.

The 5 heroes in question were Captain America, The Hulk, Namor, The Mighty Thor and the hero of the hour, Iron Man himself. The exec with the heart of steel was voiced by the late John Vernon, whom most of the people reading this will know from his portrayal of Rupert Thorne in Batman: The Animated Series.

I can honestly say Iíve never seen an episode of the show so I really canít comment on the overall quality of it. I find the Captain America show to be enjoyable in an utterly childish, cheesy way but when I sat down and watched The Hulk cartoon from the same show I literally didnít make it until the end of it, I thought it was that bad.

Aside from a small cameo with the rest of The Avengers in the 1981 Spider-Man show, Iron Man wouldnít return to animation until Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends in the early 80ís. He was featured in various cameo appearances throughout the series, the most prominent being his appearance in The Origin Of The Spider-Friends. Tony Stark was actually a central character in the episode, as The Beetle kept trying to steal his inventions. As the title indicates, the episode tells the story of how the team came together and where they got all their computers and such because itís clear from the majority of the episodes that thereís no way they couldíve afforded to pay for it themselves. Enter Tony Stark, who gives them the computers as a reward for capturing The Beetle and saving his inventions. Also, look for a cool cameo of Iron Man fighting asteroids in space!

I remember rumours circulating here on these forums that Marvel attempted to get Iron Man and Captain America their own shows in the 1980ís, but I canít find any proof to present. I do recall the reason they didnít get their own shows though Ė the networks werenít interested. Iron Man wouldnít return to animation until 1994, when he and The Fantastic Four comprised The Marvel Action Hour.