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Western Animation / Iron Man: The Animated Series

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The '90s Animated Adaptation based on the Marvel Universe Superhero and his alter ego, Tony Stark. (An earlier Iron Man animated series was shown as part of the The Marvel Super Heroes lineup that ran in 1966.)

This series ran for two seasons from 1994 to 1996 alongside Fantastic Four: The Animated Series as part of the syndicated Marvel Action Hour. Like Fantastic Four, it had a bland first season and a significantly improved second.

The first season dealt with Iron Man and his team of fellow superheroes, Force Works — consisting of War Machine, Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter), Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Century — battling the forces of the evil Mandarin, such as Whirlwind and Grey Gargoyle. The episodes in this season were mostly one-part stories. Common points of contention for many during this season were the shoddy animation, general outdatedness and that other than the "Origin of Iron Man" two-parter, which modernized his origins, there were no attempts to adapt stories from the comic mythos.

The second season featured much better animation (due in part by switching to a different animation studio) and stories more similar to the comic. It was more Arc based, and the Superhero team aspect was downplayed with all the teammates besides Spider-Woman and War Machine resigning after Tony faked his death without letting them in on the plan. Mandarin was also downplayed, having small cameos in some episodes as he reclaims his powerful Ten Rings, which were scattered during a confrontation with Iron Man in the season premiere.

Season 2 episodes of the show were later edited and redubbed as part of Marvel Mash-Up.

Provides examples of:

  • 10-Minute Retirement:
    • Tony has one of these in "Armor Wars."
    • Rhodey also takes a step back from heroics after "Fire and Rain". Circumstances force him back into the armor a few more times throughout the season, before Tony destroys the War Machine suit during the "Armor Wars" two-parter. He finally becomes War Machine again in the two-part series finale.
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Dreadknight and Blacklash both lusted after Hypnotia and often fought each other for her attention. Hypnotia alternated between being amused by their actions or thinking they were both assholes and telling them to knock it off. She only briefly considered Blacklash's affection when he saved her life.
  • Abridged Series: Got one as part of Marvel Mash-Up; strangely, they chose to use season 2 instead of season 1.
  • Achilles in His Tent: Force Works in Season 2 effectively disbands when half the team (Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, and Century) quits, having become disgusted by Tony faking his death and not letting them in on it. They do come Back for the Finale.
  • Actor Allusion: In "Iron Man on the Inside", Tony comments (while their plane is being manhandled by Ultimo) "All things considered, I'd rather be in Detroit." In Airplane!, Robert Hays' character Ted Stryker commented on how a dive bar was "worse than Detroit". This may also double as a Mythology Gag — in the comics, Tony briefly moved his base of operations to Detroit.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: The Mandarin has green skin, and is British to boot, presumably to avoid falling into the Yellow Peril trope (this despite still keeping the Mandarin name). Strangely, he's a lighter shade of green in season 2.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: It's never explained just where the Mandarin got the Heart of Darkness he used in the season 2 finale from. During Century's peering into Hypnotia's mind, we briefly see a shot of the crystal with the face of a Makulan (the race of alien dragons, including Fin Fang Foom, seen in "The Beast Within") briefly visible, so presumably it's another one of their artifacts like his rings (the fact that the power-generating thrones that the members of Force Works, and later the Mandarin's henchpeople, are strapped to are dragon-shaped furthers this idea). (In the comics, it was a 20,000 year old sphere that fell to Earth, but it was from a long-gone alien race and had no connection to the Makulans.)
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • Ho Yinsen became Wellington Yinsen.
    • Tony's parents are called Walter and Martha instead of Howard and Maria. That said, season 2 did retcon this as a case of Middle Name Basis for Walter and that Howard is indeed his first name (it was also Ret-Canon to the comics in the 2011 S.H.I.E.L.D. series)
    • Tony himself doesn't escape this as his middle initial is "B", suggesting his middle name isn't "Edward" here.
    • In keeping with the earlier idea her father was the Whizzer, not Magneto, the Scarlet Witch's last name is "Frank", not her canonical last name of "Maximoff" (or even Magneto's at-the-time last name of "Lehnsherr").
  • Adaptation Origin Connection:
    • The Mandarin is the one who captures Tony Stark and Yinsen, which results in the creation of the Iron Man armor.
    • Yinsen himself is involved in the Mandarin's origin story as well as Iron Man's.
    • MODOK's condition wasn't caused by A.I.M. trying to turn a man into a supercomputer (like in the comics); rather, he was mutated by his rival, the Red Ghost (who apparently created Titanium Man)note , over the affections of a woman. This results in MODOK serving the Mandarin as The Igor, whilst they have never worked together in the comics.
  • Adaptation Species Change: Firepower is re-envisioned as a mecha, as opposed to the man in a Mini-Mecha from the comics.
  • Adapted Out:
    • The show's version of Force Works replaces U.S. Agent with Hawkeye (apparently due to rights issues as U.S. Agent was tied to Captain America). Strangely, U.S. Agent still received an action figure in the show's toyline, possibly indicating that he was planned to be part of the team at one point; he and Hawkeye were both on the team in the tie-in comics. (It should be noted that the figure never received a wide release thanks to issues at Toy Biz; the figure later surfaced via semi-illegal means, and the mold was eventually repurposed — first as Living Laser, but when the IM line was cancelled along with the show, Toy Biz remolded it once again into Astral Armor Professor X.)
    • The adaptation of "Armor Wars" is pretty true to the comic that inspired it, but makes a few character changes:
      • Spymaster is replaced by the Ghost as the one who steals the Iron Man plans and sells them to Justin Hammer.
      • The plane hijacking scene has the Raiders replaced by Blizzard and Blacklash.
      • Hawkeye replaces the Captain as the Avenger who fights Iron Man at the Vault (due to the aforementioned rights issues).
      • Edwin Cord's role as the backer of the Firepower project is given to Hammer. Since Firepower is changed from an armored suit to a robot, Jack Taggert also doesn't appear.
      • The roles of Scott Lang and Abe Zimmer are cut entirely.
      • The Crimson Dynamo effectively serves as a Composite Character for the Gremlin (the second Titanium Man) and Force. He dies in battle against Iron Man in Russia instead of the Gremlin, and it's his armor, rather than Force's, that reveals the stolen Iron Man tech.
  • Affirmative Action Girl: Hypnotia was created to add a female villain to Iron Man's otherwise mostly-male rogues gallery.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The show generally assumes the audience is familiar with the comics, as many of the characters never really get their backstories explored. This is especially noticeable with Titanium Man, who is introduced with very little explanation, despite Iron Man claiming to have fought him in the past.
    • Madame Masque's past relationship with Tony, as well as the incident that led to her disfigurement, are never explored in any real detail. The most we get is her blaming Tony for ruining her face and Tony talking about how he had to break up with her because she wanted his company.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese dub uses a different opening theme song.
  • Ambiguous Situation: It's unclear if the bandits killed the Mandarin at the end of the Season 2 finale, or if they merely cut off his hands.
  • Anime Theme Song: When broadcast in Japan.
  • Anger Born of Worry: Twice in Season 2.
    • In "The Beast Within", Iron Man fakes his death by the Mandarin's hands, leading the rest of the team without their leader and to battle with Fin Fang Foom and the other dragons without him. Just as they seem to be losing, Iron Man appears out of the sky, and teams up with the Mandarin to stop the dragons. The scene has War Machine sound overjoyed at his best friend's survival, but in literally the next scene, Rhodey knocks Tony to the ground and chews him out for not having enough trust in the team to let them know he's alive. This is actually what led to Force Works disbanding.
    • During the "Armor Wars" two-parter, after Tony discovers that his designs have been stolen, he goes on a crusade to disable the armored heroes and villains using his technology to keep them falling into the wrong hands. It gets to the point that he "fires" Iron Man as Stark Enterprises can't associate with a Corporate Samurai gone rogue, and acts more rashly - while shutting out his friends and allies, even attacking one of them. Julia goes out her way to call him out on the crap he's pulled over the years - not just recently, and when he fakes his death again but lets Julia and Rhodey know he's alive, the former goes through the emotional ringer - first in grief to Tony's "death", then elation, and later takes Tony to task again for his recklessness and selfish actions, and makes it very clear to him that he hurt both Rhodey and herself in his paranoia over the stolen Stark tech, even if he hadn't set out to do so.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When Tony literally says "What Have I Done" after pointlessly fighting the hero Stingray, War Machine tells him, "Well, let's see: near as I can figure, you've trespassed on federal property, assaulted a naval officer, and taken a dip without waiting an hour after mealtime!"
  • Ascended Extra: An odd example. Hypnotia is the first villain actually shown in the first episode, beyond the opening credits, and she's shown successfully completing her mission. She then disappears for the next few episodes before Hypnotia reappears and starts getting bigger roles. This is only in the first season mind you, as she's mostly absent alongside the other villains for most of season two besides the opening and ending episodes.
    • Dreadknight is actually from the comics, but he only had a handful of appearances before the series.
  • Avenging the Villain: Firebrand in "Fire and Rain".
  • Back for the Finale: Scarlet Witch, Century and several of the Mandarin's minions return for the second season finale.
  • Backhanded Apology: "The Armor Wars" two-parter ends with Iron Man uploading a virus into Hammer Industries' computer systems. It destroys all records of the armor technology, but it also "accidentally" erases everything else. He "apologizes" by noting how "reckless" he was.
  • Bad Boss: The Mandarin, in the very first episode, almost killed Blizzard as punishment for the villain accidentally ruining the Mandarin's begonias. Hypnotia seems to be the only one of his minions he treats with respect, but that's most likely because she's the only one who is consistently competent.
  • Being Good Sucks: Nick Fury is certain in "The Armor Wars, Part II" that Justin Hammer is using Firepower to attack Stark Enterprises. Without proof, though, he can't intervene, so he presses Tony to bring back Iron Man.
  • Betty and Veronica: Spider-Woman and Scarlet Witch compete for Tony's affections in the first season.
  • Big Bad: The Mandarin is the main antagonist of the series.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Several Season 2 episodes.
    • "The Beast Within": The Mandarin's team is arrested and the dragons' plan is foiled, but Tony's actions cause half of Force Works and the remaining members to still give him grief. Also, viewers learn that the Mandarin is Not Quite Dead.
    • "Fire and Rain": Firebrand is arrested, but Rhodey is left shaken and gives up being War Machine.
    • "Cell of Iron": Arthur Dearborn sacrifices his life and dream to save millions of people.
    • "Not Far From the Tree": AIM's plot to take over Stark Enterprises fails, but the clone of Walter Stark escapes and intends to revisit his "son" when he's feeling most vulnerable.
    • "Beauty Knows No Pain": Madame Masque is stopped, but Tony and Julia are left feeling sorry for her, as well as reflecting on Tony's own lonely life.
  • Bragging Theme Tune: Distilled into four words in the second season's theme song — "I. AM. IRON MAN!"
  • Broad Strokes: The second season sometimes had callbacks to events from the first season, like Tony and Julia's fake wedding, and a flashback scene with Tony in his season 1 armor (with mouthslit), but most of these were few and far between (likely because the new episodes were nothing like the earlier ones).
  • The Bus Came Back: Even before the finale, Blacklash and Blizzard appeared in the Armor Wars two-parter hijacking a plane. Also, Titanium Man, who only appeared in the first episode of season 1 until his return in the season 2 episode "Distant Boundaries".
  • Canon Foreigner: Hypnotia, an Expy of Thor villainess Enchantress, and Dark Aegis, the main villain of the episode, "Distant Boundaries", were both original characters created for this cartoon.
    • The Hacker from "Iron Man on the Inside".
  • Cerebus Retcon: The Season 1 finale showed that Julia was in on the fake wedding with everyone outside of Wanda. Season 2, however, showed that she was actually quite bitter about being left at the altar, and the tension caused by that lingering resentment was used a recurring plot point.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • While the Mandarin's lackeys were used less frequently in Season 2 in general, Justin Hammer, M.O.D.O.K., Hypnotia, Whirlwind, Blizzard, Blacklash and Titanium Man all made at least one guest appearance each. Grey Gargoyle, Living Laser, and Dreadknight were far less fortunate, and completely stopped appearing after the first season, save for a few of them having a brief cameo in the Season 2 premiere (and Grey Gargoyle having a cameo in prison in the "Armor Wars" two-parter). What makes it odd is that the Mandarin eventually frees Hypnotia, Blizzard, Whirlwind and Blacklash from prison, but neglects to recover the rest of their former teammates.
    • Veronica, Tony's physical therapist, also vanished after Season 1.
  • Cliffhanger: "Hulkbuster" ends with the Mandarin reclaiming his final two rings and vowing to implement his ultimate plan.
  • Clip Show: Both seasons had an episode consisting primarily of footage recycled from older episodes - "The Wedding of Iron Man" and "Empowered," respectively.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: H.O.M.E.R. briefly becomes this during "Iron Man, On The Inside" thanks to The Hacker uploading a virus into the Stark systems. The result is H.O.M.E.R.'s holo-avatar constantly switching colors, his voice randomly modulating and him spouting non-sequiturs. Fortunately, Julia uploads an anti-virus program and he quickly returns to normal.
  • Commuting on a Bus: Hawkeye in Season 2. Unlike Scarlet Witch or Century, he appeared in two episodes in between the premiere and finale.
  • Composite Character:
    • Julia Carpenter (Spider-Woman) has a lot of traits of Pepper Potts. It's more evident in the second season. She's also somewhat of an Expy for Bethany Cabe, Stark's other red-haired associate at the time.
    • Sunturion's human form, Arthur Dearborn, had a completely different look in the comics; his appearance in the show appears to be taken from another Roxxon-associated character, Abner Doolittle.
    • The Mandroids have the same armor as the Guardsmen from the comics.
    • Titanium Man is a composite of both comic versions, having the identity of the first (Boris Bullski) and the armor design of the second (the Gremlin). Coincidentally, Bullski eventually did adopt Gremlin's armor design for a while in the comics.
    • Roxxon, while namechecked as owning a refinery, has its' villainous role in the Star Well project transferred to AIM; AIM also took the role of the villainous forces attacking the Star Well (which in the comics was the Soviet Union).
    • HOMER did not have a holographic form in the comics; his avatar here comes from PLATO, the AI that aided the comics version of Force Works.
  • Compressed Adaptation: "The Beast Within" is an adaptation of the comics' "Dragon Seed Saga" storyline, which went on for multiple issues; here, it's only one episode long (though it's a Wham Episode). Downplayed with the "Armor Wars" arc, which went for multiple comic issues but became a two-parter, and "Hands of the Mandarin", which in the comics spanned the separate Iron Man, War Machine and Force Works titles (plus a few backup stories in the Marvel Comics Presents anthology series); it's compressed into a two-parter season finale here.
  • Crossover:
    • Iron Man appears (alongside War Machine) in a few episodes of Spider-Man: The Animated Series (with a new design that mixes his season one and two designs with new elements borrowed from the Telepresence unit from the comics; War Machine also got a different appearance, with comics-accurate shoulder cannons), and later appeared in the show's adaptation of Secret Wars (1984).
    • He appears too (alongside War Machine once again, plus H.O.M.E.R.) in an episode of The Incredible Hulk (1996), "Helping Hand, Iron Fist"; it's something of a Sequel Episode to "Hulkbuster", with Tony and Bruce Banner already being friends and being a Secret-Keeper for the other.
    • He also made a couple of cameo appearances in Fantastic Four: The Animated Series as a member/leader of the Avengers (although he doesn't speak; it's also the only time the lead characters of both shows had any on-screen interaction).
    • An alternate future counterpart of IM, in green armor, made a quick cameo in the X-Men: The Animated Series episode "One Man's Worth". War Machine also made a couple of silent cameos in other episodes.
  • Curse Cut Short: "Ultimo! I thought I pulled the plug on that son of a -"
    Tony: Hello Fury, what bug crawled up your -?
    Nick Fury: It's about Iron Man.
    • And later in the same episode:
    Julia: You lousy, lying -!
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • The second season had darker colors, a more mature tone, and spent time developing the more self-destructive aspects of Stark as a character.
    • Ex-KGB who wants to basically bring back the Cold War and win it decides to launch a nuke at a Russian city and make America look responsible, and when stopped, decides to detonate it there, atomizing himself and anyone else in the immediate area, and causing numerous deaths from radiation poisoning. No, this isn't an episode of 24, it's an episode of a kids' cartoon. It's Crimson Dynamo's swan-song, setting off the animated version of the Armor Wars storyline... which is also one of those episodes that shows Stark's dark side.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Hawkeye.
    • And of course there's Hypnotia.
      Dreadknight: Give me a chance, Hypnotia. I'll make you lose your taste for Tony Stark.
      Hypnotia: I'm more likely to lose my lunch.
  • Dirty Communists: Crimson Dynamo, a deranged KGB agent-turned terrorist obsessed with destroying the capitalist system and bringing back the Soviet Union. Titanium Man counts too, as he also wants to bring the Soviet Union back.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The Hacker used Ultimo to attack Stark Enterprises because they turned down his job applications, saying such things as "Please re-apply after college."
  • Dramatic Unmask: In "Hands of the Mandarin, Part I," the Mandarin melts off Iron Man's helmet...and upon finding that IM and Tony are the same person, he dismisses this as being obvious.
  • Driven to Suicide: "Armor Wars: Part 2" has a scene where Rhodey becomes extremely worried after Tony locks himself in his lab and stops answering when anyone tries to communicate with him. Julia's response implies (but doesn't outright state) that the two of them are worried that Tony may have committed suicide after his latest bout of depression.
    Julia: You don't think he's gone and -?!
  • Due to the Dead: When it looks like Iron Man's been killed in "The Armor Wars, Part II," Nick Fury chastises two soldiers belittling his memory.
    "There was a good man in that armor, and he deserves your respect. That clear?!"
  • Enemy Mine:
    • In "The Beast Within," Iron Man and the Mandarin are forced to work together to defeat the dragons.
    • In "Distant Boundaries," Titanium Man teams up with Iron Man and War Machine to take Dark Aegis down.
  • Enhance Button: In "The Beast Within," Tony finds Fin Fang Foom's shadow in a satellite snapshot by enlarging, isolating, and enhancing it.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In "Distant Boundaries," Titanium Man is disgusted with Dark Aegis for destroying a planet simply For the Evulz.
    "My hunger is different from that of Dark Aegis. I want power to control; to lead. He wants power to annihilate!"
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: In "The Defection of Hawkeye", the Mandarin sets up evidence that Hawkeye is a traitor, and is completely shocked that Tony and the others trust him regardless.
  • Evil Knockoff: The two-part episode "Iron Man to the Second Power" had M.O.D.O.K. create a robotic duplicate of Iron Man.
  • Expy: Hypnotia seems to be one to Amora the Enchantress.
  • "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: "Iron Man, on the Inside," where Tony does this to fix Hawkeye's spinal injury. (This was adapted from a comic book story, but with Captain America as the patient instead.)
  • Fanservice: Both “And The Sea Shall Give Up Its Dead” and “The Grim Reaper Wears A Teflon Coat” feature Tony having physiotherapy sessions with a bikini-clad Veronica Benning. The latter episode also features Wanda in a bikini. “Enemy Within, Enemy Without” begins with a photo shoot with a bikini-clad model (M.O.D.O.K.’s former wife) that gets interrupted. She stays in the swimsuit the rest of the episode.
  • Forging Scene: The second intro sequence has one of these.
  • Foreshadowing: In his first appearance, Crimson Dynamo says that he is willing to sacrifice his life to destroy the capitalist system and Tony Stark. He does indeed sacrifice himself in his very next appearance, detonating a nuke in an attempt to start World War III.
  • The Gentleman or the Scoundrel: The Dreadknight (Gentleman) and Blacklash (Scoundrel) compete for Hypnotia's affections
  • Grand Finale: Season two's "Hands of the Mandarin" two-parter, where Mandarin — having finally collected all of his Ten Rings — launches a scheme to make all of the planet's technology useless, which would make his arch-enemy Iron Man ineffective against him. As Mandarin reforms his team of super villains, Iron Man reforms Force Works and develops new armor to negate Mandarin's anti-technology spell, and a final confrontation between the two ends in Mandarin's (possible) death.
  • Heart of the Matter: The series finale saw The Mandarin hold the world hostage using a gigantic gem called the Heart of Darkness which, by draining the energy of superbeings, could blanket the world in an anti-technology field, grinding the modern world to a halt.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Spider-Woman, Wanda (season one), and Veronica Benning, Tony's physical therapist.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Titanium Man in "Distant Boundaries," taking Dark Aegis with him.
    • Arthur Dearborn/Sunturion at the end of "Cell of Iron," which saves New York City from utter destruction.
  • Hypocrite: After all the anti-technology railing, the Mandarin reveals he has exo-armor. Iron Man calls him on it.
  • I Lied: "The Beast Within" offers a two-fer. Once M.O.D.O.K. fulfills his role in the plan, the Mandarin refuses to let him share in the spoils. However, immediately afterwards, Fin Fang Foom reveals his own treachery.
  • Identity Impersonator: Tony pulls this one on the Mandarin in "The Wedding of Iron Man." Tony himself appears at the wedding in disguise (so he can change into Iron Man later), while a robot represents Tony Stark.
  • The Igor: M.O.D.O.K. serves as this to the Mandarin.
  • Ill-Fated Flowerbed: In the pilot, Blizzard accidentally freezes the Mandarin's begonias to death while cooling off his drink. The Mandarin is not happy about it.
  • In Name Only: The Scarlet Witch seen here bears no similarities with the comic book character except having the first name Wanda (in the cartoon she's Wanda Frank rather than Maximoff), and having a vaguely Eastern European accent. Personality-wise, she's quick to anger, man-crazy, more than a little weird, has the hots for Tony, and sees Julia as her romantic rival for his affections. In the comics she's level-headed (normally) and has led the Avengers before, and she counts Tony and Julia among her closest friends. Power-wise, instead of probability manipulation, her abilities are vaguely-defined but seem to be explicitly magical, including tarot-reading, shape-shifting, and altering matter. Even her costume is based on a very brief period in the comics where she experimented with short hair, rather than her more recognizable long hair and tiara. And zero references are made to her father or twin brother.
  • Ineffectual Loner: Deconstructed in Season 2 with Iron Man. Refusing to let the team in on his plan in "The Beast Within" causes half of them to quit. Rushing off in "The Hands of the Mandarin, Part I" nearly gets him killed.
  • Irony: Discussed throughout "Cell of Iron," as Iron Man finds a given something ironic and H.O.M.E.R. tries to understand the concept. Played for Laughs, until the end.
    Iron Man: Goodbye, Dearborn. It's ironic that your ultimate gift to mankind wasn't the Star-Well after all, but rather the life you sacrificed to destroy it.
    H.O.M.E.R.: You say it is ironic, but I fail to detect the previous element of humor. Is irony not always funny?
    Iron Man: No, H.O.M.E.R.. Sometimes, it isn't funny at all.
  • It's All About Me: The episode covering his backstory depicted the Mandarin abandoning his own fiancee to die in order to enhance his own chances of survival, all the while justifying it on the grounds that he had a "great destiny" to live for.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Hawkeye.
    • Iron Man could count, too, given he does jackass things like faking his death and the "Armor Wars" stuff, but he did believe he was trying to help people.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: In the "Armor Wars" two-parter, Tony starts out by simply attacking villains using armor—stopping them in the middle of crimes and demonstrating that they were using technology stolen from him. However, he quickly becomes more obsessive and starts going after good guys that wear armor, such as Stingray and even War Machine. All the while, Iron Man is condemned as a menace, while Julia and Rhodey denounce him, Nearly getting killed by Justin Hammer's new weapon, though, knocks some sense into him and causes him to clean up his act.
  • Kick the Dog: The Mandarin almost kills Blizzard in the first episode for freezing his begonias.
  • Kick the Morality Pet: The Mandarin's backstory in this animated series; he and his fiancee were archaeologists on a dig in Mongolia when their expedition was attacked by bandits. The rest of the team sacrificed their lives so the two of them could escape on the last surviving camel, but the Mandarin betrayed his fiancee and abandoned her to die so as to ensure his own survival.
  • Killed Off for Real: Fin Fang Foom, Titanium Man (taking Dark Aegis with him), Crimson Dynamo.
  • The Lancer: Hawkeye
  • Last-Minute Hookup: Tony and Julia
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • When Iron Man and the Hulk get sent to the prehistoric past in "Hulk Buster", Tony sarcastically asks if someone just changed the channel.
    • Likewise, in "Hands of the Mandarin: Part 1," Tony says "You don't have to be a cartoon writer to figure out the Mandarin is behind [the terrorist attacks in Hong Kong]." note 
  • Legion of Doom: The first season exclusively featured the Mandarin as the Big Bad with the other villains (Blizzard, Blacklash, Grey Gargoyle, Whirlwind, Hypnotia, Living Laser, M.O.D.O.K., Justin Hammer, and Fin Fang Foom) all working for him and rotating in and out as needed.
  • Limited Animation: The first season.
  • Love Triangle: Two examples:
    • Spider-Woman and Scarlet Witch both want Iron Man in the first season.
    • Blacklash and Dreadknight both want Hypnotia. Hypnotia, on her end, alternates between slight teasing and being totally fed up with them, and frequently mentions she wants Tony Stark. Though she briefly reciprocates Blacklash's affection when he saves her life.
  • Make Wrong What Once Went Right: In "Hulk Buster," the Leader seeks to eliminate Bruce Banner in the past and claim the Hulk's power for himself.
    "Our destiny is about to be uncrossed, Banner."
  • Merchandise-Driven: Likely the reason why the first season featured Iron Man and Force Works vs. the Mandarin's Legion of Doom (it was a very similar setup to Transformers, ThunderCats, and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983)), and definitely the reason that season 2 gave Iron Man the ability to switch armors on the fly to adapt to any situation. Marvel had looked at the success of the multi-colored Batman toys in the wake of Batman Returns and were trying to copy its success with Iron Man by giving him an armor for every occasion (and compared to Batman, IM's different armor variants made sense most of the time). It didn't take off as well as Marvel had hoped.
    • This also led to Executive Meddling for comics at the time: West Coast Avengers was canceled in favor of the more Iron Man-centric Force Works in preparation for the hoped-for Iron Man fad.
  • Middle Name Basis: Season 2 retconned that Tony's dad going by "Walter" is a case of this and that, much like the comics, his first name is indeed "Howard".
  • Missed Him by That Much: "Beauty Knows No Pain" sees the Mandarin arriving in Egypt immediately after Madame Masque's rampage to obtain one of his rings, with Tony not being aware at this point of the Mandarin's survival. It ultimately remains a secret to Tony until the season finale.
  • Moment Killer: In "Distant Boundaries". H.O.M.E.R. and later Rhodey do this to Tony and Julia.
    H.O.M.E.R.: Are we doing facial inspections?
    Tony: [beat] That's right.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: During "Iron Man, on the Inside," Hawkeye suffers a paralyzing, most likely fatal injury while fighting Ultimo. Tony (feeling guilty over their falling out) is particularly hard on himself, but Julia insists that it was an accident.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Wanda Maximoff being renamed "Wanda Frank" is a reference to the period in the comics (before Magneto was revealed to be her father) where she and her brother were thought to be the children of Robert Frank, the the Golden Age hero known as the Whizzer.
    • Julia in a season 2 episode name-checks Captain America. Peter Parker gets referenced in a tongue-twister by H.O.M.E.R. when the latter goes off his rocker thanks to a computer virus.
    • In "Fire and Rain" Tony says Jim needs to meet him at the "Roxxon refinery"; in the comics Roxxon is a major oil company and a major foe of Tony's (though their role in the Sunturion plot was transferred to AIM).
    • When IM and the others receive Firebrand's broadcast in "Fire and Rain", Rhodey remarks that it's "Time warp, 1968". 1968 was the year Iron Man got his own comic book (having been part of Tales of Suspense until then), though Firebrand himself didn't debut until 1970.
  • Named by the Adaptation: The Mandarin was originally a white man named Arnold Brock.
  • Never Found the Body: Defeating the dragons in "The Beast Within" causes a massive explosion. Iron Man assumes the Mandarin was killed, but viewers quickly learn he's wrong. Justified, though, as the blast was powerful enough to kill all five dragons.
  • Ninja Log: Iron Man pulls this off on Blacklash in "Silence My Companion, Death My Destination" when he disguises a high-voltage transformer using his hologram.
  • Noodle Incident: When Century arrives in Hong Kong during "Hands of the Mandarin", he explains he was late because he had to traverse space and time without his staff Parallax, which was apparently "depleted". (It's not clear if this had something to do with the anti-technology fog or not.)
  • Not Helping Your Case: In "The Defection of Hawkeye", the Mandarin tries to set up Hawkeye as a traitor. However, the team doesn't believe he is, they just call him out on his attitude. Tony on the other hand is the one to point out that because of Hawkeye's refusal to explain his recent whereabouts, it was easy for the Mandarin to frame him to begin with.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Arthur Dearborn from "Cell of Iron" used high levels of microwave energy to cure a deadly disease, but he was transformed into Sunturion. He gave off lethal radiation and banished himself to the Starwell space station.
    Dearborn: And here I remain, my gift to mankind now serving as my prison. Do you have any idea of what loneliness it is to be cut off from all humanity and locked inside a cell of iron?
    Iron Man: Yes, I do.
  • Off-Model: The first season even fails in comparison to both X-Men: The Animated Series or the first season of sister series Fantastic Four: The Animated Series.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Hulk in his crossover episode when he realizes the time travel has brought him to just before the gamma bomb test.
    • M.O.D.O.K. in "Empowered" when he learns the Mandarin is still alive.
  • Once an Episode:
    • Season 1 had a CGI Transformation Sequence, where Tony would suit up.
    • Most Season 2 episodes in-between the premiere and finale ended with a tag scene showing the Mandarin slowly reclaiming his rings. The only exceptions were "The Armor Wars, Part I" (which had a story-related cliffhanger) and "Empowered" (a Clip Show that featured the Mandarin heavily).
  • Only Sane Man: Among the Mandarin's usual lackeys, Hypnotia consistently came across as the only one that wasn't an idiot. She also proved to be quite powerful with her hypnotic abilities in various occasions, from hypnotizing an entire village for 24 hours to using delayed-action hypnotism in a video recording.
  • Organic Technology: The final episode sees Tony donning a new suit of armor that runs on "bio-energy," meaning it's immune to the effects of the anti-tech fog the Mandarin has unleashed.
  • Origins Episode:
    • "The Origin of the Mandarin" revealed the origin of the Mandarin.
    • How Tony Stark became Iron Man was revealed in the two-part episode "The Origin of Iron Man".
  • Pet the Dog: Blacklash once saved Hypnotia's life in an act of genuine altruism.
  • Power Trio: Iron Man, War Machine, and Spider-Woman in Season 2.
  • Promoted to Love Interest:
    • Spider-Woman, almost definitely because she was more Toyetic than any of Tony's canon love interests.
    • The Scarlet Witch, too, though obviously unrequited.
  • Put on a Bus: Hawkeye, Century, and Scarlet Witch quit the team after Season 2's premiere. Hawkeye returns for "Iron Man, On The Inside", again the part 1 of the "Armor Wars" two-parter, and both he and the rest of the team return in the finale.
    • M.O.D.O.K. scampers off at the end of "The Beast Within" for parts unknown. He returns in "Empowered" and is revealed to have been busy searching for the Mandarin's rings.
  • Race Lift: In the 1994 animated series, the Mandarin is actually pure British by origin, instead of his comic book self's Mongolian; his green-skinned, pointy-eared, claw-fingered, Fu Manchu-mustachioed form is something he was warped into after he gathered the ten alien power crystals that become the Rings of Power.
  • Rated M for Manly: The second US opening theme.
  • Recap Episode: "Empowered", which features MODOK getting his hands on one of the Mandarin's rings.
  • Redemption Equals Death: "Go redeem yourself, Titanium Man."
  • Remember the New Guy?:
    • Dark Aegis was introduced as a villain Iron Man had supposedly already fought and defeated in the past, even though he'd never been seen or mentioned before his debut episode.
    • Several villains IM faced in the comics who show up in season 2 are generally treated like this — A.I.M., Madame Masque, the Beetle and the Controller (Stilt-Man doesn't count since he's more a funny Continuity Cameo than anything else).
    • The final episode introduces a Chinese scientist named Dr. Su-Yin, who has conveniently developed a special suit of armor that runs on bio-energy, and is thus impervious to the Mandarin's anti-technology mist. She and Tony are clearly very close and it's stated that they had been working together on the bio-energy microprocessors for several years, despite neither Su-Yin nor the project ever having been mentioned before this.
  • Renegade Russian: Crimson Dynamo is this (to the point of suicide by nuke), and so is Titanium Man to a lesser extent.
  • Ret-Canon:
    • The current comics reveal that the Mandarin was involved in the kidnapping of Tony Stark and Yinsen.
    • The post-Secret Wars relaunch incorporates the idea of Tony being able to switch armors at will.
    • The 2011 S.H.I.E.L.D. series brought in the idea that "Walter" is Howard Stark's middle name.
  • Retcon: In Season 1, the accident that killed Tony's father was caused by Justin Hammer. In Season 2, it was caused by A.I.M. Additionally, it was retconned that "Walter" is a case of Middle Name Basis and indeed Tony's father's first name is "Howard",
  • Reverse Polarity: Iron Man uses this to get away from Mandarin's traps.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: See Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking above.
  • Ring of Power: The Mandarin. Ten of them!
  • Rogues' Gallery Transplant: The "Armor Wars" two-parter features brief bits where IM confronts the Beetle (usually a Spider-Man villain, though he started out as a foe of Johnny Storm) and Stilt-Man (a Daredevil enemy, though he appeared in the comics "Armor Wars" arc too).
  • Say My Name: The season two premiere "The Beast Within" features Rhodey, in response to his best friend Tony supposedly getting blown sky high, belting out a tortured "TONYYYYYYYYYY!"
  • Sealed with a Kiss: The series ends with a shot of Tony and Julia locking lips.
  • Secret-Keeper: The end of "Hulk Buster" for both heroes.
    Bruce: You know that I'm the Hulk. What now?
    Iron Man: [removing his helmet] I won't tell if you won't.
  • Self-Serving Memory: In the season 2 premiere, it's the Mandarin's idea for him and Iron Man to combine their powers to defeat the Makluan dragons. However, this results in a large explosion and him losing his rings, and by the season 2 finale he's convinced himself that Iron Man tricked him into the plan to try and get rid of him.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The villain Beetle talks like a member of a certain rock band. Iron Man even tells him he's "In for a hard day's night" when they first meet.
    • The reporter in "The Wedding of Iron Man" mentions the time Madonna married "Whatshisname," as well as when Elizabeth Taylor married "everyone else."
    • In the same episode, M.O.D.O.K. jokingly says they'll have to get Hypnotia to do a standup routine on David Letterman's show.
    • Julia once mentioned Captain America in a season 2 episode.
  • Stock Footage:
    • Season 1 featured the lengthy clip of Tony suiting up as Iron Man and dubbing in new dialogue for different episodes.
    • "Hulk Buster" reuses the climatic explosion from "The Beast Within" and a Hulk transformation from Fantastic Four: The Animated Series.
    • The fight between Iron Man and Hawkeye in the "Armor Wars: Part 1" uses the same close-up of Hawkeye grinning while preparing an arrow at least twice.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Walter Stark looks like Tony Stark with gray hair. Hell, in season 2, he even has his son's mullet!
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham: The series was generally lighter on special guest stars than other Marvel cartoons of the era, especially Spider-Man: The Animated Series and Fantastic Four: The Animated Series. This is particularly noticeable in the two-part Series Finale, where the Mandarin shuts off all of the technology in New York City. Despite New York being home to the vast majority of the superheroes in the Marvel Universe, no other costumed heroes are seen helping out while the city is devolving into chaos.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: H.O.M.E.R. replaces the female-voiced computer from Season 1.
  • Swiss-Army Hero: Iron Man in Season 2, with the power to switch to different armors for different challenges.
  • Team Member in the Adaptation: As noted under Adapted Out, Hawkeye replaced US Agent as a member of Force Works.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: After Force Works dissolves in Season 2, War Machine and Hawkeye don't bother to hide their mutual disdain for each other, as Rhodey is angry at Hawkeye for leaving and Hawkeye at Rhodey for staying. Their mutual anger at each other extends to other members on both sides as well as Clint doesn't bother hiding his contempt at Julia for her staying, either, and while Rhodey doesn't say anything about Century, he does make a snide remark about Tony welcoming Wanda back in the Grand Finale.
  • Tempting Fate/Chekhov's Gun: In "Silence My Companion, Death My Destination", Rachel Carpenter wonders when she will ever need classical music and her mother later gives her a tape of a Van Cliburn performance. Apparently, the music can be used to recharge Iron Man.
  • Tension-Cutting Laughter:
    • While chewing Tony out for his actions in Armor Wars, Julia insists that he can't just ask her and Rhodey for forgiveness; their emotions aren't something he can switch on and off like a computer. H.O.M.E.R asks if he should be offended by that, and Tony, Julia and Rhodey all crack up. Tony isn't laughing for long, since he's in pretty bad shape.
    Tony: Whoever said laughter is the best medicine oughta be shot...
    • Happens again while Rhodey and Tony are stranded on an alien world with an unbreathable atmosphere - and Rhodey has an attack of claustrophobia in his suit. Tony tries to calm him down, then finally threatens to slap him if necessary.
    Rhodey: (cracking up) Gonna pull my hair, too, boss-man? (they both laugh)
  • Title Drop: The big guy himself word-for-word in "Rejoice! I Am Ultimo, Thy Deliverer"... repeatedly.
  • Token Competent Minion: Hypnotia was consistently the only competent one among the Mandarin's lackeys. The very first episode opened with her successfully completing her mission to turn a submarine crew into zombie servants for the Mandarin. It's telling that Hypnotia was the only one of the Mandarin's lackeys who could get away with snarking at him without receiving a murder threat in return.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Let's just say in Season 2, some of Tony's less admirable personality traits from the comics made their way onto the show.
  • Toyless Toyline Character: For a show meant to shill toys, several:
    • On the heroes' side, Scarlet Witch and Stingray.
    • Amongst the bad guys, Hypnotia, Justin Hammer, Firebrand, Controller, Stilt-Man, Beetle, Dark Aegis, and Firepower. In Dark Aegis's case, much like the US Agent/Living Laser figure, his planned toy was reused for the X-Men's "Mutant Armor" subline as a figure for Beast.
    • Beetle's case may be justifiable because he was released as part of the Spider-Man toyline, and Marvel toylines from the same time are similar enough to be put together as a same collection, so a Beetle in the Iron Man line would have been redundant. What is still strange, is that the Spidey toyline was series-based too, and Beetle didn't appear in the Spider-Man cartoon.
    • Strangely subverted with US Agent, who was a member of Force Works in the comics but not the show (due to legal issues), yet had a figure produced for this toy line — though, in this case, it wasn't legally available. See, the US Agent figure was dropped because the number of slots available in the toyline were cutback (company-wide), and the figure was planned to become a figure of the Living Laser in series 5 of the Toy Biz line, but the line was cancelled. However, the figure, with LL's armor pieces, was retooled as the "Astral Armor Professor Xavier" figure in the "X-Men Mutant Armor" line (the other figures from that series were put into the "Spider-Man Techno Wars" and the aforementioned Mutant Armor lines).
    • Justified for Stingray, Controller, Stilt-Man, and Firepower, as they were only in the "Armor Wars" two-parter, Justin Hammer was merely a civilian (albeit one secretly corrupt), while Firebrand was only in one episode.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Zigzagged (subverted?)for the Mandarin: the rings he uses to mount the alien gems that serve as his Rings of Power are all he has left of his fiancee after she was killed/dragged away by Mongolian bandits. The tragedy is subverted in that he abandoned her to die in order to heighten his own chance of successfully escaping.
  • Transformation Sequence: The first season had out-of-place CGI Once an Episode. The second season had a much better one in the opening sequence.
  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: The first season featured a completely CG-rendered suit-up sequence whenever Tony donned his Iron Man armor. It looked out-of-place and was scrapped in season 2.
  • Unwanted Assistance: While Tony tries to disarm a warhead, H.O.M.E.R provides a countdown.
    Tony: H.O.M.E.R? That's not helping.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The Mandarin is one to the dragons in "The Beast Within."
  • We Will Meet Again: The Crimson Dynamo promises this to Iron Man in "Not Far From the Tree." They meet again in the first part of "Armor Wars," and it's a complete disaster.
  • We Would Have Told You, But...:
    • Outside of the Scarlet Witch, everyone knew the wedding between Tony and Julia was fake, but they wanted Wanda's reaction to be genuine. As part of the more route of season 2, Julia herself was also shown to be quite resentful of her role in the affair.
    • Force Works quits after Tony pulls this on them with faking his own death in the second season premiere.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Tony has these issues with his father, as seen in "Not Far from the Tree."
  • Wham Episode:
    • "The Beast Within": Fin Fang Foom is written out, the Mandarin's rings are scattered across the world (and he's thought to be dead), his Legion of Doom gets arrested, and Iron Man's Jerkass scheming costs him half his team.
    • “The Armor Wars: Part 1”: Crimson Dynamo commits suicide by flying to the base of a nuclear missile while pursued by a heat seeking missile, and the resulting explosion leads to thousands of people getting radiation poisoning.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: In "Distant Boundaries", Iron Man and War Machine head into space to save an alien civilization from Dark Aegis. By the time they arrive, Dark Aegis has already slaughtered them.
    Iron Man: You're payin' big time for this crime, Dark Aegis! Bank on it!
    Dark Aegis: Crimes? Against who? Humanity? The fools of this planet were grotesquely less than human.
    Iron Man: Life is life, pal! Even yours — as twisted as it is — is born with value.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Tony's buddies are rather ticked after learning he faked his death without letting them know it was a ruse to stop Mandarin's scheme in "The Beast Within."
    • The "Armor Wars" two-parter is pretty much this non-stop until Tony has a What Have I Done moment after defeating the heroic Stingray only to find that Stingray was not using his technology.
    • The first season had an episode where Tony fooled the Mandarin into thinking that Tony Stark and Iron Man were separate people by having Julia (Spider-Woman) marry a robot duplicate with everyone being in on the charade except for Wanda, who was very upset at the deception. And even though she was in on it, Season 2 had Julia rightly point out how she was being jerked around.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Rhodey gains a crippling fear of being submerged in water due to watching his friend drown as a young boy, and then getting stuck at the bottom of the ocean in the War Machine armor.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: The "Origin of Iron Man" two-parter.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Netflix listed its streaming of the Marvel Action Hour under Iron Man's name.
  • Women Are Wiser: Hypnotia, compared to the Mandarin's mostly male villain entourage, is a smart and savvy woman who is clearly thinking straight.
  • You Killed My Father: Firebrand blames Tony for the death of his father, even though his father accidentally killed himself while trying to blow up a Stark Enterprises building after being fired.

See also ComicBook.Iron Man and Film.Iron Man, other works with this title.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Iron Man


Iron-Man TAS

A theme tune so metal, its required to be played over a forge.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

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Main / TitleThemeTune

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