New animated series Iron Man: Armored Adventures premiered in the US last night, finally answering the question "What if they made a cartoon about Iron Man that completely lost everything that made the movie good?"
It has to be said, Armored Adventures is so different from the Iron Man movie - or the original Iron Man comic, for that matter - that you have to wonder why anyone even bothered calling it Iron Man in the first place. Yes, the hero is Tony Stark, and yes, he's a genius who builds himself a suit of armor to save the day... but this is a teenage Stark, whose heart problems come from a plane crash that kills his father, as opposed to being damaged by something he had a hand in creating. Rhodey becomes a teenage best friend, and Pepper a high school student with the hots for Tony, and almost everything becomes much more generic as a result - certainly, the relationships between the characters could come from a million other cartoons, and there's nothing in the flat banter here to match the swagger of the movie.
It doesn't help that the animation - CGI that tries to look like flat, hand-drawn traditional animation - is so bad. It's the worst of both worlds, with characters saddled with the stiffness and awkward motions of CGI but lacking the texture and detail that computer animation can distract with. It's not that the show looks ugly, it just looks as bland and lost in translation as the writing sounds.
It's difficult to say just how badly Armored Adventures misses the mark, because it's just so different from - and suffers so much in comparison to - last year's movie, which was probably the best portrayal of the character in years. Perhaps if you'd never seen the movie, then this would at least seem passable...? But if you had - or, if you read Matt Fraction's impressive take on the character in the monthly Invincible Iron Man comic - then there's no way to look at this than a dumbed-down version made all the worse by the shoddiness of the process. The Nicktoons audience should complain at being patronized so lazily.