The 1994 cartoon dress-up scenes didn’t age well


While it might have seemed passable at the time, the series’ computer-generated Iron Man armor now only serves to add to its many sins.

While X Men and Spider Man were both highly regarded Marvel cartoons from the 90s, some of the other superhero cartoons featuring the company’s characters weren’t as well received including Iron Man: The Animated Series. While the second season is generally seen as an improvement, even this outing could not save the show from being canceled following the terrible reputation it gained from its Abyssal debut season.

One particularly poor element of the first season was the constant use of cheap stock footage whenever Tony Stark started Iron Man. A constant part of almost every episode, this archive footage also involved some incredibly questionable CGI to “complement” the thrilling nature of the scene. While it might have seemed passable at the time, the series’ computer-generated Iron Man armor only serves to add to its many sins.

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Iron Man the Animated Series

With the exception of the episode detailing both the history of Iron Man and the Mandarin, each of Stark’s transformations into his alter-ego is shown with rather cheesy archive footage. Said images still have Tony Stark in his lab, hanging different parts of Iron Man’s armor as others quickly slide over his body. The mechanical undergarment of the armor also magically zaps across Tony’s chest, making the whole thing even more cheesy.

Worse yet, it’s the CGI that completes the second part of the transformation. Animation suddenly switches from traditional 2D to animation, making Transformers: Beast Wars looks like Iron Man’s CGI from Avengers: Endgame. Most ridiculous is the ending, in which Iron Man’s armor apparently develops electromagnetic abilities to levitate Tony’s helmet in his hands. Not only is the CGI both poorly done and incredibly shocking, it also never appears in any other element of the series.

Worst of all, the stock footage will directly contradict some episodes. While Tony’s initial 2D animated armor will perform anywhere thanks to his suitcase armor, the CGI archival footage immediately locates him in his lab, even though he was completely elsewhere. It’s unclear exactly why CGI is used in this footage, especially given its horror.

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Tony’s various armors, such as the blue stealth armor, would appear in various episodes, but CGI archive footage still involved his main armor. It should be noted that the main Iron Man armor in the series is actually Tony’s modular armor from the comics and the series would grow and decrease between whether or not it was animated with a mouth slit.

Poor CGI is just one part of Iron Man this caused its somewhat deserved bad reputation, however. Combined with bad writing, cheesy characterization, and worse storylines, the show wasn’t even worth mentioning in the same breath as contemporaries such as the Spider-Man, X-Men, Batman Where Superman cartoons. To be fair, the CGI wasn’t all bad for 1994, and it was still two years before the aforementioned Beast wars created. Still, to viewers today, the animation looked a lot worse than even something Tony Stark did in a cave with a box of trash.

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