09 June 2015

TV DVD Review: "Iron Man": The Complete 1994 Animated Television Series

Rated: TV-Y7 for fantasy violence (US) / PG (Canada)
Starring: Robert Hays, James Avery, and John Reilly
Released: 1994 - 1996 (original TV premieres) / 2010 (DVD)
Synopsis: Billionaire genius Tony Stark is no stranger to the public eye, but he has a big secret: he is also the famed superhero Iron Man! The evil sorcerer known as the Mandarin will stop at nothing to defeat Stark's alter ego once and for all; fortunately for Tony, he has his friends and allies War Machine, Hawkeye, and the Scarlet Witch to fight alongside him!  Whether he is battling zombiefied innocent people, seemingly reunited with his late father, or saving Hong Kong from a complete blackout, it's going to take all of Tony's smarts and technology to save the day...but, will even that be enough?

The Good: I'm a sucker for superhero shows; sure, you always know who is going to win, but, the question is: How? Tony Stark and his friends find themselves in some serious predicaments, not all of which are caused by the Mandarin and his minions.  Though the first season is good, the second season improves the experience so much, it feels like a completely different show.  The animation, voice work, action sequences, and other production values were all great.  It's also wonderful that the legendary Stan Lee was among the executive producers; that man knows superheroes.  A cameo by fellow Marvel star the Hulk was great as well.

The Bad: Most of my complaints are minor: the DVD subtitles were messed up at times, and one episode is merely a retrospect.  Probably my biggest issue is the violence, which I'll describe below; whereas it's nothing for older fans like me, some parents might want to think twice before buying this for their young children, despite its kid-friendly packaging.

Content Concerns:
  • Sex: Kissing; completely innocent romance. 4/5
  • Nudity: Tony Stark is seen shirtless numerous times, and other guys are as well; women are seen in everything from low-cut outfits to bikinis.  The style of the animation does make it less sultry, though. 3/5
  • Language: Name-calling, and usage of euphemisms such as "butt" and "gosh". 4/5
  • Violence: As usual for a show like this, action is seen throughout.  Iron Man, his allies, and the various villains are hit, kicked, thrown, blasted, shot at, etc., countless times.  Disasters--i.e., buildings exploding--are a fairly common occurrence.  A man is choked to death, which is repeated in a flashback, while another man is beheaded; those two incidents are only heard, not seen. 2/5
  • Drugs: None. 5/5
  • Frightening/Intense Scenes: Along with the violence, some of the villains come off as terrorists at times; emotional intensity is also present. 1/5
  • Other: Magic is used, both by the good guys and the bad guys. 4/5
Conclusion: In recent years, comic book superheroes have gained serious popularity, which has led to many old-school television serials featuring those infamous do-gooders being released on DVD, Blu-Ray, and via streaming services.  Iron Man himself has both his own film trilogy and the two Avengers flicks to his name; if you've enjoyed seeing him on the big screen, you'll probably like this as well.  As good as the movies are, I always like the TV series better, because the overall story is more complex.  For Marvel fans, this is worth checking out; just keep in mind the content concerns above.

Score: 4/5

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