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Iron Man: Armored Adventures
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this animated series, which centers on a teenage version of popular comic book/movie hero Iron Man, is much more tween friendly than the big-screen version. There's still plenty of cartoon action -- including laser battles and super-powered fistfights -- but nobody gets hurt. Tony ditches class whenever necessary to don his special suit -- but he's doing it to save the world. He's also determined to find out the secret behind his father's death, an event that has a lot of impact on the series.
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What's the story?
Teenage genius Tony Stark (voiced by Adrian Petriw) has spent most of his life focusing on advanced scientific research at his father's massive corporation. But after his father dies in a mysterious plane crash and control of the company shifts to ruthless businessman Obadiah Stane (Mackenzie Gray), Tony moves in with his best friend and enrolls in the local high school. Things may seem normal, but Tony has a big secret: His last major project before Stane took over was an amazing suit of powered armor that transforms the boy into Iron Man. Tony's ready to save the world, but he also has a private mission -- to find out the secret behind his dad's death and prevent Stane from ruining his father's company. And who is The Mandarin, a powerful supervillain who seems to have a strange connection to Tony's late father?
Is it any good?
IRON MAN: ARMORED ADVENTURES turns the popular superhero into an ordinary teen -- a common strategy for cartoons aimed at kids, but a harder transition here than for other well-known heroes. Superman had superpowers all his life and started using them as a youth; Spider-Man developed his own abilities while still a student. But Iron Man, according to comics lore, is a millionaire playboy/genius inventor who created the super suit in a secret lab. That origin story is a bit hard to adapt to high school, and the series ends up feeling a bit more implausible than other shows about young superheroes.
But really, it's a cartoon for kids, and plausibility is pretty much beside the point. So what if Tony's a teen instead of adult? He's got a flying suit and can shoot lasers from his hands. That's more than enough to capture the attention of young viewers, who are unlikely to wonder why Tony rarely attends class or how a kid managed to build the amazing Iron Man suit in the first place. The series delivers a pair of standard-issue villains -- corporate mogul Stane and the superpowered Mandarin -- and plotlines that won't tax the comprehension of the average 8-year-old, as well as plenty of action and excitement. For a more complex take on the Iron Man story, check out the movie version or the original comic books; this version is aimed squarely at kids -- and it hits the mark.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes this series more kid friendly than the live-action movie. Is it just that it's a cartoon, or is there more to it? How does the show change Tony's character? Is making him a genius teen inventor any less believable than making him a millionaire businessman? How do Iron Man's youthful adventures compare to those of a young Superman or Spider-Man? Can you think of another way to rewrite the Iron Man story?
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