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Cartoon Intro Cavalcade: Iron Man Season 2



“I always believe that Opening Titles of a show are very important.
They should provide intriguing visuals that not only sum up the series,
but also merit repeat viewing. To accomplish this, the artistic concepts
must of necessity be dynamite. Otherwise, the audience may simply
decide to change channels before the episode begins again. There is no
point in doing a good show if the audience is watching another channel,
is there?”

Those were the words of Tom Tataranowicz, one of the producers for the
second season of Iron Man (1994-1996). Tataranowicz and his producers
not only knew what Iron Man was supposed to be, they also knew what a
great opening title sequence was supposed to be. This was an underrated
series with, frankly, an amazing title sequence.

The opening is very straightforward and might sound a little dull were
you to summarize it. Tony Stark forges his armor and goes on a test
flight. It’s an unusual concept for a superhero cartoon title sequence,
as they typically explain the hero’s origin, feature an action set piece
or show a montage of the hero in action.

None of that matters, because the creative team added several layers
that tell us who Tony Stark is. His heart condition isn’t stated, but
obviated by the patch on his chest and beeping indicators on his
computer workstation. The presence of DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man on the
computer and the nod to it in the armoring up sequence belies the
series’ belief that Stark is something of a renaissance man. Stark is
the only character seen in this intro, and is frequently seen in close
up shots. This and the character’s driven attitude towards forging the
armor cement his reputation as an eccentric “lone wolf”. As Tony forges
his new armor, ghosts of his previous comic book armors appear. This
not only is a cool nod to the fans, but a great way of conveying that
Tony constantly updates his armor and has been doing this for a while.

All of this is accompanied by a fantastic theme song. Now, the ideal
theme song for Iron Man is, of course, Iron Man from Black Sabbath –
that’s the song used in the movies. That song is probably a wee bit
out of the price range for a half-hour cartoon series ostensibly aimed
at kids. Therefore, Will Anderson was tapped with coming up with a new
theme song that reflected the character, but I’d be shocked if Black
Sabbath wasn’t used as a reference.

Will Anderson’s theme song is fast and intense, composed of screaming
guitar riffs and a slight techno influence. There are words to the
song, but they’re not so much lyrics than a mantra: the words “I! AM!
IRON! MAN!” are sung over and over, with increased intensity as Stark
completes his task. It’s another way to hint at the obsessions that lie
at the heart of the Tony Stark character.

It’s also extremely memorable and surprisingly heavy for a Superhero
cartoon at the time. Batman, Superman, and Fantastic Four were using
orchestral style scores. X-Men and Spider-Man were closer to rock.
Iron Man, however, is closer to metal: heavy guitar and heavy
percussion. It’s an unusual but extremely fitting choice for the
character.

If I had to sum up the second season Iron Man opening in one word, I’d
use the word “rockin'”. Actually that’s not accurate: I’d use words
that I can’t quite use on the site. Suffice it to say that this opening
is completely awesome.

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