Marvel Rising: Heart Of Iron Is Sort Of Okay

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Heart Of Iron Has Better Writing Than Last Episode

Heart of Iron partially reverses the downward slide after the abysmal Chasing Ghosts. It’s not as good as Initiation, but at least the plot setups actually go somewhere. It doesn’t feel like scenes are wasting the viewer’s time. 

And this is entirely because the story focuses on understandable character arcs. The superheroes get things to do. Oh, sure, almost all the plotlines are things you can find in a million children’s cartoons, but at least they’re presented earnestly. A team leader goes through a crisis of being unsure if they’re fit to lead—and it does actually make sense why they would be upset about it. A person who’s spent their life pushing people away must accept friendship—and the trauma that caused such a reaction is believable. 

These moments aren’t front-loaded, either. Every arc feels balanced within a bigger action scenario. It’s remarkably cohesive. The majority of Heart of Iron deals with problem-solving—instead of fighting—and it blends moments of using powers and gadgets with emotional payoffs.  

This does detract from the point of the episode, though. Ironheart has a significant plotline, but Heart of Iron doesn’t feel like her story. It’s interspersed with everything else and even removes her from the majority of the action for an emotional moment. If you went into Heart of Iron interested in seeing, you know, the title character, you might find yourself disappointed. Certainly, I was. It makes me suspect that the upcoming Shuri episode will also fail to give her enough screen time. 

There are other issues, too. And on this shaky of ground, every tremor hurts. There’s literally a singular moment in the whole of Heart of Iron referencing it, but it’s still not clear, even so long after Secret Warriors, how the bigotry subtext of “Inhumans” works. It’s such a heavy subject that it really feels like it needs to be addressed directly, even via open exposition or narration.  

On a different side of things, the “comedy” in Marvel Rising continues to derail moments. Every scene of “Look at this vegan bakery, isn’t it wacky?” got on my nerves, but it doesn’t compare to the main issue: Squirrel Girl. I want to like Squirrel Girl. The character is sometimes fun. Sometimes. Having her as the team programmer is genuinely interesting. But she causes two major problems in this story and is never in actual trouble for it. An easy “joke” about Squirrel Girl is that squirrel powers seem absurd and weak, but she’s secretly really powerful. Instead, in Marvel Rising, she’s a nigh-liability during multiple scenes. In a more serious show, she’d get someone killed. 

And, finally, the biggest grain of sand in my proverbial shoe: the dialogue. It’s awkward in so many places. The first few minutes of Heart of Iron have so much inorganic exposition. Gwen can’t help but give these almost tired-sounding quips throughout. Ironheart ends up saying pure technobabble. But most galling of all is a line about the reverse plasma “stealing powers” that is simply incorrect. That’s not what’s shown on screen! I like these voice actors’ performances—it might be the main thing keeping me in these series—but it’s hard to look past some of these lines. 

Truly, I am happy that Heart of Iron shows some promise for the future. I promise the next Marvel Rising episode will get the benefit of the doubt and a large amount of optimism, but I can’t say it’s an easy mindset to hold. It was nice of Heart of Iron to change up the conflict a little and let various characters’ powers mix in interesting ways, but the ultimate conclusion, the damning with faint praise, is that this episode is only mildly entertaining.   

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