Episode Number: 2
Season Episode Number: 2
Airdate: November 21, 2008
Writer: Romain Van Liemt, Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost
Director: Stéphane Juffé, Philippe Guyenne
Voices: Adrian Petriw (Iron Man), Daniel Bacon (Jim "Rhodey" Rhodes), Anna Cummer (Pepper Potts), Mackenzie Gray (Obadiah Stane), (Happy Hogan), Lisa Ann Beley (Iron Man Onboard Computer), Vincent Tong (Mandarin), (Zhang Tong).
Plot: Obadiah Stane has turned a laser drilling machine that Tony invented for Stark Enterprises into a laser weapon and is trying to sell it to the military. While Iron Man attempts to stop the machines from overloading and exploding during a demonstration, Obadiah Stane is paid a visit by the Mandarin who is looking for something Stane is wearing on his finger.
Review (Warning! Spoilers!): Iron, Forged in Fire, Part Two is the second half of the pilot episode for the series in which we are introduced to the Golden Avenger's greatest foe, the Mandarin!
But before we get to talking about him, I want to comment on some of the aspects of the show. The animation for the series is by Method Animation in France and they do quite well for an all CGI television series. CG TV animation is never as good as any feature film animation which causes the human characters to often seem stiff and lip sync to be tough.
The obvious comparison is with Mainframe's CG Spider-Man series that aired on MTV. While the animation in Iron Man is better than that series, I prefer the detail and use of shadows in Spider-Man. I am finding that Iron Man just looks bland. The colors used in the show are quite muted and soft, making everything look faded.
On the plus side, they have worked hard to bring us a good looking city for Iron Man to live in. The density of the city is apparent here in a way that was absent from the MTV Spider-Man. This causes much more interesting flight/chase scenes and camera work that is much more fun to watch.
The voice cast is well suited for their roles. The voices all fit the look of their character and the acting is good too. Whoever gets to animate Pepper's lips must get such a headache due to her fast Gilmore Girls style ranting. The voice of Tony Stark is Adrian Petriw who lent his voice to Hawkeye in Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow prior to this series.
This episode features two villains, the first is Obadiah Stane. Stane gets a complete overhaul for this show, changing his look and attitude to be more like Lex Luthor. Why this change? I'm not sure but I hope that the Iron Monger suit he will eventually build won't look like Lex's battlesuit.
The second villain in this episode is the Mandarin who also gets an overhaul. In the comics, the Mandarin gets his power from ten alien rings. In this show, the Mandarin is already a powerful warlord with a powerful suit of armor that is apparently capable of teleporation and only has one ring (two by the end of the episode). This is obviously to make a Dragonball-like quest for the first season's 26 episodes. Gotta find all ten rings!
If you are familiar with the comics then you know that each ring has a unique power. The two rings seen in this episode are the right index and middle finger rings. According to the comics, the power of those rings should be Impact Beam, which can project a force of energy, and Vortex Beam, which causes air to move around in a high speed vortex. We saw both of these powers demonstrated in this episode.
Another interesting fact about this version of Mandarin, he is an old man named Zhang Tong who gets usurped by his impetuous teenage son, Gene Kahn (you read that right, this show has a teen version of Mandarin)! Both names are alias that Mandarin has used in the comics over the years.
While I'm not sold on the show yet, I will hold out hope that it will get better.