Iron Man In Animation - A Retrospective

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

Aside from his Age Of Apocalypse alternative making a quick cameo in One Manís Worth in X-Men and another quick cameo or two over in Fantastic Four, Iron Manís first full fledged guest appearance was as Tony Stark in Spider-Man: The Animated Series in an episode entitled Venom Returns. Stark Enterprises had created an inter-dimensional probe that could teleport matter from one spot to another instantly. Dormammu realised that this could release him from his alternate dimension prison and reunited Eddie Brock with his symbiote so Venom could steal it for him. The first episode features Stark in LA with War Machine and Spider-Man battling Venom and later Carnage and they manage to steal the probe which of courses forced Iron Man into action in part two. Itís also worth noting, this show has my favourite War Machine design, he looks much better here than either design he had in his own show.

This isnít the Iron Man of season two presented here, but itís the Iron Man of season one either. They were obviously intended to be in the same continuity as thankfully, Robert Hayes returns to voice the Golden Avenger but the design is slightly different. I thought the legs looked a little weird but I really like the mask and the chest plate. Itís a little different from most of Iron Manís armour in the comics or even his own show, but I think itís cool. Itís not quite as cool as his season two armour but itís still pretty to the eye. Iron Manís not a lone wolf either, he seemed more than happy to team up with Spider-Man to stop Carnage, Dormammu and Baron Mordo. Perhaps he lightened up a little after the events of season two?

Thereís a scene in the episode that always makes me laugh, after Iron Man and Spidey have defeated all the villains. Iron Man smashes the probe, much to Spider-Manís horror.

Spider-Man: Hey, that belongs to Tony Stark!
Iron Man: If Tony Stark has a problem, he can take it up with me!

Iíve always had a soft spot for these episodes as Iíve always liked Carnage when he doesnít completely suck and well, itís got Iron Man and Spider-Man teaming up. Itíll do for me. Tony Stark had a quick cameo in The Spot, but if I say anything more about it Iíll break my sacred vow of only having a single sentence about The Spot in a retrospective.

Iron Man would return in Secret Wars, as Spider-Man was given the daunting task of leading a group of superhero to battle a group of supervillains that had taken over a peaceful planet because The Beyonder was curious as to whether or not good was mightier than evil. In all honesty he didnít really get up to much Ė I felt that he was intended to be there as the one person who Spider-Man didnít have to worry about. Heíd never met the Fantastic Four, Captain America constantly questioned his leadership skills, Storm seemed distrusting and Black Cat was in a tiff with him (classic Spidey line ďIíve just transported you to an alien planet, thatís all!"). This really was just a case of ďHi Iron Man, nice to see you again!Ē

His next guest starring appearance would see his rematch with The Incredible Hulk in what still stands as the best team up episode in all of Marvel animation. Bruce Banner travels to LA in his never ending quest for truth, justice and a cure for his Hulk condition and the episode is just brilliant, probably the best episode of Hulk they ever did. This is often described as Iron Man episode #27 as Iron Man, HOMER and War Machine all use their season two models/voices and the ever awesome Iron Man theme is present throughout.

For the ill educated amongst you, Iron Man season two has the greatest opening theme in the history of animation. Words cannot describe itís brilliance, so simply listen to it here. The episode sees an amnesic Hulk battling Iron Man in his big ass Hulkbuster episode, itís just brilliant, great fun.

Unfortunately, not all of Iron Manís guest appearances have been good. The Avengers: United They Stand has been ridiculed here in the past as Arsenal and I recently sat down and watched the entire show for our Avengers site andÖ itís painful. The writing sucks, the characters are terrible and the villains are beyond poor. Having sat down and watched every episode I failed to find a single redeeming factor, everything was simply awful and Iron Man was no exception. Whilst he was only featured in a single episode, there was absolutely no point in being there. He just happened to be in the same place as The Avengers wereÖ and thatís it. Sickeningly, Robert Hayes wasnít brought in to voice the character and the new unnamed actor didnít do anything with the role. Add this to a really, really silly looking armour and you have yet another terrible episode of an inexcusably poor show.