I remember watching Iron Man (The Animated Series) weekday mornings before school when I was much younger. I used to watch it on a Fox affiliate, I can’t remember which affiliate exactly, and the channel would alternate between episodes of the 1990s Fantastic Four animated series and Beast Wars. With one or two episodes airing a week, while alternating with the other shows, it took awhile to see the whole series, but I found the wait worth it. Out of the three shows that rotated together, this was the one I was most excited to see. I truly enjoyed every minute of this cartoon. Looking back on this series now, it’s amazing how much things have changed.
From Stan Lee comes Marvel’s complete 1994 animated television series, Iron Man: The Animated Series. Experience every thrilling moment – from the very first episode, to the final climactic battle – in this 3-disc collector’s edition. Witness the action-packed adventure from the very beginning as billionaire inventor Tony Stark dons his invincible suit of iron to battle the villainous Mandarin and the power of his ten deadly rings. With fellow super heroes Nick Fury, War Machine, Scarlet Witch, Spider Woman and Hawkeye at his side, Iron Man faces off against a band of evil foes, including Whiplash…and confronts his own demons, as well. Go behind the armor and get to know the man under the powered suit. This complete Iron Man collection is a must-have for fans of all ages!
Originally airing in syndication back around 1994 – 1996, Iron Man was paired with Fantastic Four as part of the Marvel Action Hour, an hour of back-to-back cartoons promoting a new toyline series. Airing for two seasons, the show experienced a major overhaul in the second season that made the show jump from lackluster to spectacular. Featuring a bevy of heroes and villains, Iron Man was pretty packed with guest stars and adapted or paid homage to many aspects of the character’s rich comic book history. There’s more to it than that, of course, but there are plenty of other sites out there that can provide a more thorough recap of this show’s rather interesting backstory. Basically, all you need to know is that this show aired in the 1990s, had a horrible first season before being revamped into a real gem of a cartoon.
So, do I still enjoy Iron Man? You bet! The first thirteen episodes are pretty terrible, though not as bad as the first season of the 1990s Fantastic Four animated series, but the second season is pure gold, easily rivaling the best Marvel cartoons produced during that era. It’s really, really, really excellent. Sure, some flaws are more readily apparent now as I watch this series with mature eyes, but you have to just admire how great these thirteen episodes are. The animation is pretty great for the age and the writing is surprisingly mature at times.
So, as I said, this series is really only half-great. The first 13 episodes are largely forgettable, a mish-mash of terrible writing and stunningly bad animation at times. And I mean bad even by early 1990s standards. Bad. It is somewhat of a novelty to stick through these and watched poorly staged and labored action sequences unfold, where the fastest of punches move at a turtle’s speed, enduring the overabundance of villains and one-liners that seem so, so out of place. Where the episodes are so jam-packed that it is nearly impossible to get any sense of any coherency out of them. It’s worth a giggle but, honestly, sitting through the entire first season isn’t worth it. The first few episodes and the few last ones should be enough to see the first season, though if you’re brave enough to endure all 13, then go right ahead.
Personally, I’d encourage everyone to just skip to episode 14 and strap in for 13 really great episodes of Iron Man action. It’s seriously, seriously good stuff, on par with the still-enjoyable 1990’s X-Men: The Animated Series and better than 1990s Spider-Man: The Animated Series. Highlights for the second batch of theirteen episodes, the second season, is definitely the likes of “Armor Wars”, “Hand of the Mandarin” and “Hulkbuster.” Particularly “Armor Wars” stands out as a personal favorite to me, but the entire second batch of thirteen episodes is really enjoyable to watch. And you really can’t beat that theme song from the second season, arguably the iconic Iron Man theme.
Additionally, I like how the second season, while consisting of plenty of “one off” episodes, managed to create an underlying theme throughout most of the seasons. Subplots ran through most, and some episodes even followed up on the events from the first season. The first episode of the second season completely changes things for the series, not just in terms of quality but in overall story-telling, presenting a definite step-up.
Spread over three discs, the episodes featured in this collection include “And The Sea Shall Give Up It’s Dead,” “Rejoice! I Am Ultimo Thy Deliverer,” “Data In – Chaos Out,” “Silence My Companion, Death My Destination,” “The Grim Reaper Wears A Teflon Coat,” “Enemy Within, Enemy Without,” “Origin Of The Mandarin,” “Defection Of The Hawkeye,” “Iron Man To The Second Power (Part 1),” “Iron Man To The Second Power (Part 2),” “Origin Of Iron Man (Part 1),” “Origin Of Iron Man (Part 2),” “Wedding Of Iron Man!,” “The Beast Within,” “Fire And Rain,” “Cell Of Iron,” “Not Far From The Tree,” “Beauty Knows No Pain,” “On The Inside,” “Distant Boundaries,” “The Armor Wars (Part 1),” “The Armor Wars (Part 2),” “ Hulkbuster,” “Empowered,” “Hands Of The Mandarin (Part 1)” and “Hands Of The Mandarin (Part 2).”
Watching this old 1990s Iron Man animated series certainly brings back a wave of memories. I can still remember downing my cereal on the couch while watching this show before school. The second thirteen episodes are just excellent, though not without their flaws. Sure, the show isn’t as good as I remember, but it’s still a blast to watch. Plus it holds up remarkably well for its age. Iron Man: The Complete 1994 Animated Series may not be the best animated series out there, but it is arguably the best Iron Man animated series to date. Now, that could be the nostalgia effect for all I know, but I think it holds pretty true. I think all Iron Man fans should do themselves a favor and rush out to pick up this collected series. Coming Recommended, I guarantee you won’t regret it.
Like the Buena Vista Home Entertainment’s recent X-Men: The Animated Series DVD releases, Iron Man: The Complete 1994 Animated Series is packaged in a simple Amaray case, equipped with hinge flaps to support all three discs inside, and a nice foil-enhanced cardboard slipcover. Standard, but reliable.
Looking at the audio and video quality first, this release provides the same level of quality we’ve seen in the X-Men: The Animated Series releases – good, but not great. While the transfer is pretty solid, likely the best we’ll ever see these cartoons, compression, edge enhancement and interlacing are very noticeable at times. The image also occasionally appears soft with the odd dust or scratch jetting across the screen, likely due to the fact that these episodes were not remastered. Still, I find the quality to be above broadcast, even with all the faults. In addition, the audio for this release is pretty good, with everything sounding crystal clear and focused at the center. There’s the odd hollow-sounding moment here and there, but I’m pleased with the quality overall, standard for the aged cartoons presented here.
Despite the fact that we get the complete 1990s Iron Man cartoon, uncut as it seems, this three-disc release is absent of any extras save for a collection of trailers for other products. Disappointing but not surprising, given how Buena Vista Home Entertainment handled the X-Men: The Animated Series DVD releases.
Fans of Marvel’s Crimson Avenger should do themselves a favor and pick up this Iron Man: The Complete 1994 Animated Series DVD release. It’s a great collection of Iron Man adventures, even if half of the episodes included are barely watchable. And, while it probably could be better, the audio and video is just fine for this release, especially considering the age of the series. Buena Vista Home Entertainment has done a good job getting this series onto DVD, all in one collection no less, and I’m not disappointed with what we get here. We get hours worth of content to watch here, which more than makes up for the lack of bonus content. It’s simply great to finally have this series collected on DVD. Just in time for the live-action Iron Man 2 big screen flick, Iron Man: The Complete 1994 Animated Series is one DVD release that definitely comes Recommended. Don’t miss out on this underappreciated 1990s classic.
Iron Man: The Complete 1994 Animated Series is now available to own on DVD.
–Iron Man: The Complete 1994 Animated Series DVD Talkback (Spoilers)